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WBS Report: Two games left for the WBS Penguins after two wins this week

With so few games to go, it’s time for WBS’s best players to prepare for playoffs, even though WBS doesn’t have any playoffs. The taxi squad surely awaits WBS’s standout performers, so they need to be at their best just in case.

Penguins defender Pierre-Olivier Joseph takes a shot on a power play against Binghamton on Wednesday night.
Photo taken by me

Wednesday, May 5: Binghamton 3 @ WBS 6

The WBS Penguins’ second to last home game of the season was an especially important one for me, as it was the first time in nearly 14 months I was able to attend a WBS game in person. I was happy and proud (and fully vaccinated) to be among the 740 paying customers to see the Penguins host the Binghamton Devils.

Fabian Zetterlund opened the scoring for Binghamton after a strong first four minutes with his 6th of the season. WBS responded quickly, as Jordy Bellerive hit double digits in goals with his 10th tally of the season at 4:59 of the first.

Yes, the goal was originally given to Felix Robert on a deflection, but I sure didn’t see one live. The change only took about 5 minutes to make.

WBS took a 2-1 lead later in the first as captain Josh Currie scored his eighth goal of the season short handed.

Anthony Angello pressed the advantage at 1:41 of the second period with a goal to extend the lead.

Just seven seconds after the goal, though, Angello took a cross-checking penalty, and just eight seconds into that penalty, A.J. Greer scored for Binghamton.

But Binghamton could get no closer, as Currie scored his second of the game at 11:36 of the second, then Tim Schaller hit double digits with his 10th of the year at 6:00 of the third. Binghamton’s Tyce Thompson scored for Binghamton at 12:43 of the third to bring Binghamton back to 5-3, but Angello finished off the proceedings with an empty netter 38 seconds from full time to make the final 6-3.

Angello and Currie each finished with two goals and an assist. Drew O’Connor, Cam Lee, and Pierre-Olivier Joseph each finished with two assists. Jordy Bellerive finished with a goal and an assist, for a total of six players with multi-point nights.

Goaltender Alex D’Orio stopped 21 of 24 shots for his fifth win of the season and fourth in as many starts. Evan Cormier took the net for Binghamton and stopped 23 of 28 shots in the losing effort.

Saturday, March 8: Binghamton 1 @ WBS 4

WBS closed out the home portion of its schedule on Saturday with another contest against the Devils. This contest also marked the last time these Binghamton Devils will visit WBS, as the AHL announced on Thursday the relocation of the New Jersey Devils’ AHL franchise to Utica, New York, starting in 2021-22 and going for ten years. The AHL franchise of the Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, will move to Abbotsford, BC starting in 2021-22.

After a scoreless first period, Nick Schilkey opened the scoring at 8:24 of the second with his sixth goal of the season.

Schilkey struck again in the third period on a power play for a 2-0 lead. Anthony Angello extended the lead to 3-0 with an unassisted goal, his sixth for WBS, at 12:16 of the third.

The shutout bid of starting goaltender Tommy Nappier came up 2:05 short, as Graeme Clarke scored, but Jonathan Gruden restored the three-goal victory margin at 18:22 to give WBS their sixth victory over Binghamton on the season in eight chances and close out their home schedule with a record of 7-5-3-1 in 16 games.

Nappier finished with 22 saves on 23 shots for his first professional victory. For Binghamton, Evan Cormier took the net again and stopped 31 of 34 shots in the losing effort.

Sunday, May 9: WBS 2 @ Lehigh Valley 6

To close out the week, WBS headed to Lehigh Valley to celebrate Mother’s Day with the Phantoms. The stakes were moderately higher on this day, as a victory by the Penguins would clinch the North Division championship for the season for the Hershey Bears.

Lehigh Valley would have none of it, using a first period hat trick by Brennan Saulnier to propel themselves to a 6-2 victory and keep their hopes of a division championship breathing. Tanner MacMaster and Chris Mueller (two) also scored for the Phantoms, who also benefitted from Zane McIntyre’s 29 saves on 31 shots.

The lone bright spot on the day would probably be the final goal of the day, as Josh Currie connected on a power play at 7:42 of the third to give himself ten goals on the season. Felix Robert also scored for WBS, while Tommy Nappier in net stopped only 20 of 26 Phantoms shots.

Stats

Since the return of Anthony Angello to WBS on April 24, the Penguins are 5-2-1 in those 8 games. That hot streak has propelled WBS back to .500 this season, with a record of 12-12-4-2 after 30 games. By points, that’s fourth in the North Division; by percentage, it’s fifth.

After a 12-goal offensive explosion by WBS this past week, there are three forward with 10 goals on the season: Josh Currie, Jordy Bellerive, and Tim Schaller. Currie’s 12 assists give him a total of 22 points, a point-per-game pace during his time with WBS. Nick Schilkey shares the team lead in assists with 12, as do defenders Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Cam Lee. Drew O’Connor continues to lead the rookies with 6 goals and 11 assists for 17 points, nearly a point per game pace over his 18 games.

WBS’s power play continues to be mid-to-lower-half tier in the league, with a conversion percentage of 18.4% at wee’s end that ties the San Jose Barracuda for 16th in the AHL. The penalty kill, which entered the week third in the league, suffered a horrendous week. The PK allowing four goals in a total of in fourteen chances in the three games this week to drop all the way to 10th in the AHL with a kill percentage of 83.6%.

Lehigh Valley has three games left on its schedule, two with Binghamton and one with WBS on Saturday, May 15, start time 7:05 pm EDT. Hershey has two, one with Binghamton and one with WBS to close the season Sunday, May 16, start time 3:00 pm EDT. Hershey has the clear inside track to win the division, so it’s extremely possible there will be nothing left to play for except future NHL playoff callups once the I-81 rivals get together on May 16 to finish off this strange, abbreviated 22nd season of WBS Penguins hockey.