Monday, January 21: Lehigh Valley 1 @ WBS 2 (OT)
When we last left the WBS Penguins, they had just acquired forward Joseph Blandisi from Anaheim in exchange for Derek Grant. Blandisi was not able to join the team in time for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but the WBS offense didn’t seem to mind, putting up a remarkable 46 shots against the Phantoms. The game proceeded without any goals for the first 40 minutes, with Lehigh Valley’s Mike Huntebrinker scoring his first goal of the season for the Phantoms at 3:55 of the third. To stave off what would have been a very harsh result, Adam Johnson equalized at 11:04 of the third with his 13th of the season.
Regulation ended tied at 1, with WBS taking the extra point through All-Star Ethan Prow’s 12th of the season at 4:00 of OT.
Lehigh Valley goaltender Anthony Stolarz finished with 44 saves on 46 WBS shots to earn third star honors on the evening. WBS goalie Tristan Jarry saved 27 of 28 shots for the win, with Adam Johnson (second star) and Ethan Prow (first star) rounding out the honors on the afternoon.
#WBSPens VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS : - The Penguins pulled out a big 2-1 OT win over the @LVPhantoms on Monday afternoon. Adam Johnson with his fourth goal in the past three games, and Ethan Prow with the OT winner (off a great effort by Teddy Blueger). pic.twitter.com/YLDE3Kbdvn— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) January 21, 2019
Wednesday, January 23: WBS 5 @ Bridgeport 2
WBS carried the momentum of their overtime win into their second school day game of the season, scoring 5 consecutive goals in the first 26:51 to fuel a 5-2 victory over the Atlantic Division’s second-place team, Bridgeport. The newly-acquired Blandisi made his WBS debut in this game and wasted no time opening his account with a goal 3:38 into the game, his ninth in the AHL this season.
Teddy Blueger, playing his way into “AHL All-Star snub” status since the rosters were announced, scored two goals on the day to get to 20 on the season.
Ryan Haggerty also scored two goals, his 7th and 8th of the season.
WBS conceded two within two minutes soon after Haggerty scored his fifth, with Chris Casto and Tanner Fritz drawing the Sound Tigers back to 5-2, but they could get no closer. Jarry started again and stopped 25 of 27 shots for the win.
Bridgeport’s Chris Bourque assisted on both Sound Tigers goals to earn third star honors. Haggerty’s two goals were good for second star honors, while Blueger added an assist to his two goals for top honors.
Saturday, January 26: WBS 5 @ Binghamton 4 (OT)
The day before WBS closed out its pre-All Star schedule, it agreed the mutual termination of Will O’Neill’s contract, making the veteran defender a free agent. The prevailing wisdom appeared to be a looming backlog of veterans for WBS with players like Chris Summers and Zach Trotman returning to full health, and with all teams in the AHL limited as to how many veterans it can play in a given game, it would have been difficult for O’Neill to get into the lineup, so it was agreed that O’Neill should try his hand elsewhere.
WBS surged out to leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in this contest, with Blandisi scoring his second for WBS in as many games, Prow scoring his 13th of the year, Haggerty scoring his 9th of the year and 3rd in 2 games, and Adam Johnson scoring his 14th of the year, continuing his resurgence.
Credit to Binghamton, though; they were able to claw back the entire lead through John Quenneville’s 12th of the year and two by Blake Pietilla to tie the game at 4. Binghamton could not steal the extra point, though, as Teddy Blueger scored his 21st of the year 21 seconds into overtime to win the game for WBS 5-4.
Tristan Jarry started his third straight game for WBS and saved 25 of 29 shots for the victory. Adam Johnson took third star with his goal and two assists; Teddy Blueger’s game-winner earned him second star, while Binghamton’s Pietila earned top honors with his two goals to tie the game and an assist.
Despite the perfect week, WBS still finds itself in sixth place in the Atlantic Division at the All-Star break with a record of 22-18-4-1, 49 points, and a points percentage of .544. Teddy Blueger’s 21 goals leads WBS by a considerable margin, with a gap of 7 separating the forward from Adam Johnson and Anthony Angello with 14 each. Blueger also stands tied for 4th in the AHL in goals, one behind Springfield’s Paul Thompson at 22 goals and two behind Chris Terry of Grand Rapids and Joel L’Esperance of Texas at 23 each. Blueger’s 39 points also leads WBS and clocks in at a tie for 14th in the AHL.
At the break, Tristan Jarry holds a record of 14-8-3, a GAA of 2.80, and a save percentage of .909. Anthony Peters’s stats stay the same at 6-8-2, 3.31 GAA, and .888 save percentage. The power play stayed relatively static at 16.7%, 21st in the AHL, while the penalty kill stands at 78.6%, 24th in the AHL.
Full Atlantic Division standings at the break:
- Charlotte Checkers - 46 games played, 31-11-4-0, 66 points, .717 points percentage (leads AHL by .006 percentage points over San Jose)
- Bridgeport Sound Tigers - 46 games played, 24-16-4-2, 54 points, .587
- Lehigh Valley Phantoms - 45 games played, 24-16-3-2, 53 points, .589
- Providence Bruins - 45 games played, 22-16-6-1, 51 points, .567
- Springfield Thunderbirds - 46 games played, 20-16-6-4, 50 points, .543
- WBS Penguins - 45 games played, 22-18-4-1, 49 points, .544
- Hershey Bears - 44 games played, 21-20-0-3, 45 points, .511
- Hartford Wolf Pack - 45 games played, 19-21-3-2, 43 points, .478
Look at the bunching. The pack around the playoff cutoff line has caught up to Bridgeport in second, leaving only a five-point gap between second place and sixth.
AHL All-Star Skills Competition
As part of the AHL All-Star Skills Competition, the WBS Penguins’ only representative, Ethan Prow, was assigned to three events: the Puck Control Relay (alongside Charlotte’s Andrew Poturalski and Toronto’s Trevor Moore), the Accuracy Shooting competition, and the Breakaway Relay (teamed up with Belleville’s Drake Batherson, Bridgeport’s Sebastian Aho, Cleveland’s Nathan Gerbe, and Hartford’s John Gilmour against Iowa Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen).
Prow skated his Puck Control session very cleanly to help his team claim victory in their race, earning the East squad one goal. He hit two targets on 8 shots during the Accuracy Shooting competition, as Utica’s Reid Boucher and San Jose’s Francis Perron each hit the 4 targets on 6 shots to share the winner’s honors, while the East hit more targets in less shots to win the team goal in that event. Prow was unable to convert his breakaway in the Breakaway Relay, as the West absolutely outclassed the East in the breakaway relay 10-4 to clinch the overall victory in the Skills Competition 17-14.
AHL All-Star Challenge
The AHL All-Star Challenge was contested as a round-robin series of 6 10-minute 3 on 3 games, two periods of 5 minutes each, where each of the 4 division teams plays each of the others, with the best 2 divisions playing a final, 6-minute, one period, 3 on 3 game to determine the winner.
- Central vs. Atlantic: Milwaukee’s Troy Grosenick started the game for the Central and stopped all six shots he faced. Unfortunately, he only played half the game, as the Atlantic’s Colin McDonald (LV), Trevor Carrick (CHA), and John Gilmour (HFD) scored in the second half to win the first game 3-1. WBS’s Ethan Prow was on the ice for the Central’s only goal, Denis Gurianov from Texas.
- Pacific vs. North: Belleville’s Drake Batherson scored two goals within 14 seconds to tie the North Division’s first game against the Pacific Division at 2, but Ontario’s Sean Walker tapped a backhand through the legs of Syracuse’s Connor Ingram to win the game for the Pacific. Bakersfield’s Cooper Marody scored an empty-netter to make the final score 4-2.
- Central vs. North: Batherson continued his strong night into the North’s second game, scoring two more goals in the second half of the North’s game against the Central to give him 4 on the night and his North side a 4-2 win. The North advanced to 1-1 on the night, the Central regressed to 0-2.
- Pacific vs. Atlantic: John Gilmour put up two more goals in the Atlantic’s second game, but the highlight for WBS fans will undoubtedly be Ethan Prow’s goal, as he finished a give and go play with Bridgeport’s Michael Dal Colle. Dal Colle got his own goal in this one, as did Charlotte’s Andrew Poturalski, as the Atlantic advanced to 2-0 with a 5-2 win over the Pacific.
- Central vs. Pacific: The Pacific needed to win this game to keep their hopes of advancing to the title game alive, but the Central managed instead to take their first victory of the night by a score of 5-3. Both the Central and the Pacific finished the round robin at 1-2.
- North vs. Atlantic: The North had a chance to clinch a spot in the final if they won their last game against the Atlantic, and they did with a 4-1 victory fueled by two Nathan Gerbe (CLE) goals. Both teams finished the round robin at 2-1.
- Championship Game - North vs. Atlantic: The title game went scoreless and nearly stoppage-less for six minutes, with time expiring on a North 2 on 0 to deny them a potential winner. The scoreless title game was then decided in a shootout, with Batherson scoring in round 2 to match a Michael Dal Colle shootout goal to close out an All-Star Challenge MVP performance. Trevor Moore from Toronto scored in round 4 of the shootout to give the North the championship.
WBS will open the post-All Star portion of their schedule with a pair of home games to kick off February, hosting the Cleveland Monster on Friday, February 1 at 7:05 pm, then hosting the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday, February 2 at 7:05 pm for the annual WBS “Pink in the Rink” night to support the fight against breast cancer.