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WBS Report: The AHL Penguins split the weekend as the NHL trade deadline looms

WBS delivered the first home win to its paying supporters in 13 months on Saturday, then dropped a infuriating game to Hershey on Sunday.

The WBS Penguins show off their new alternate jerseys as they take on the Binghamton Devils.
@WBSPenguins

Saturday, April 10: Binghamton 4 @ WBS 5 (OT)

After a week off the ice, WBS kicked off a span of two games in around 26 hours on Saturday evening with a visit from the Binghamton Devils. Devils forward Nate Schnarr opened the scoring at 15:27 of the first period with his second goal of the season. Nolan Foote then expanded the lead to two at 2:02 of the second with his sixth tally of the year.

Forward Justin Almeida brought the Penguins back to within one just 4:15 later with his second goal of the season.

Binghamton brought the lead back to 2 just 2:43 later through Schnarr’s second of the game.

From there, WBS started its comeback.

Felix Robert kicked it off 22 seconds away from the end of the second period with his fourth goal of the year.

Defender Cam Lee then tied the game at 5:31 of the third with his first career AHL goal.

With defender Pierre-Olivier Joseph in the box for tripping in the final minutes, Chase Berger struck gold with a short handed goal at 16:24 of the third, putting WBS up 4-3.

Unfortunately, once again WBS could not see the lead through to the end of regulation. This time, it was Ryan Schmelzer who tied the game back up for the Devils just 36 seconds away from the end of the game.

In overtime, though, Jordy Bellervie won the game for the Pens.

Who else would it be, really, but WBS’s leading goal scorer and the one who scored in overtime just 11 days before to give WBS a victory against these same Binghamton Devils?

The goal was Bellerive’s eighth of the season. The win was WBS’s first home victory of this season since reopening its arena to paying customers, and as a result was the first victory in front of their own paying customers since last March 7, a 5-2 victory over Bridgeport.

In the cage on this day for WBS was Max Lagace, who finished with 17 saves on 21 shots for the victory. Binghamton goaltender Gilles Senn stopped 32 of 37 WBS shots in the losing effort.

Sunday, April 11: WBS 0 @ Hershey 2

Where Saturday’s game was a goal-loaded affair, back and forth between two rivals, Sunday’s game was the opposite of that. What it lacked in action and offense, it more than made up for in controversy.

Once again, WBS fell behind in the first period, as forward Aliaksei Protas, in his fourth game for the Bears, opened his Bears account with his first of the year. The goal came at 12:14 of the first.

The game stayed like that until the third period. With Axel Jonsson-Fjallby in the box for delay of the game, Jordy Bellerive appeared to tie the game, as seen here.

Inexplicably, though, the goal was not given on the ice.

To make matters worse for the Penguins, there is no provision for replay review in the AHL this season. Since some teams in the league are operating their seasons out of their practice facilities, which are not set up for AHL video review, there is no provision for video review anywhere in the AHL this season. It therefore falls to the on-ice officials to make the calls and review the calls among themselves. In this case, referees Jordan Deckard and Terry Koharski ruled against the Penguins.

WBS could not recover, and forward Brian Pinho’s empty-net goal 12 seconds from full-time determined the final margin of victory, 2-0.

Lagace took the net again and stopped 20 of 21 shots in the losing effort, which was not quite good enough against Pheonix Copley’s 21 saves on 21 shots.

Stats

The split of the weekend left WBS with a record of 7-8-3-2, good for 19 points in 20 games and a .475 points percentage. By points, they are tied for fifth with Rochester, who has 19 points in 17 games; by percentage, they are sixth. Leading on points is Hershey, with 30 points in 21 games and three clear of Lehigh Valley, who due to COVID-19 protocols had both of their games this past weekend postponed. Syracuse has 21 points in 17 games for third place by both points and percentage.

Through 20 games, Nick Schilkey leads the Penguins with 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists). Tim Schaller is second, with 6 goals and 6 assists. Jordy Bellerive’s 8 goals lead the Penguins, and with 3 more assists ties Radim Zohorna for third on WBS with 11 points.

The WBS power play could not convert anything on the weekend, dropping their overall conversion percentage to 17.4%, 17th in the AHL. The penalty kill would have finished the week clean as well had Pinho’s empty netter not been on a power play; the kill percentage ends the week 83.8%, 9th in the AHL.

The Week Ahead

Following the NHL trade deadline today, WBS is currently scheduled for two games this weekend. First on the schedule is a contest against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday, April 16, set for a 7:00 pm EDT start. However, as noted above, the Phantoms were forced to postpone their two games this past weekend due to COVID-19 protocols.

If Lehigh Valley can clear the league protocols in time, then game on; otherwise, the only game WBS will have this weekend is a Saturday night trip to Syracuse on April 17, start time 7:00 pm EDT.