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WBS Weekly: Baby Penguins get three wins in three days

After a power outage in Utica cut off their second game of the season, WBS won three games in 48 hours over the weekend to kickstart their 2022-23 campaign.

WBS goaltender Dustin Tokarski protects his net Sunday afternoon in Providence.

Monday, October 17: WBS 1 @ Utica 2, suspended

A busy four-game week for the WBS Penguins started in Utica on Monday night as the Comets opened their home schedule. The season debut for last October’s AHL Goaltender of the Month, Filip Lindberg, didn’t start out quite as hoped. Utica scored twice in the opening 20 minutes on 12 shots. Nick Hutchison and Robbie Russo both opened their season accounts with their first goals of the year. Comets starting goaltender Nico Daws stopped 11 WBS shots in the first period.

In the second, newly acquired defender Ty Smith got his WBS goal on the power play at 9:38 of the second, assisted by Alex Nylander and Drake Caggiula. It was also the first career AHL point Caggiula.

However, with 2:43 left in the second period and the Penguins about to go on a power play, the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica lost power. The game was eventually suspended, and it will resume from the point of suspension on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, starting at 7:00 pm EST.

Friday, October 21: Laval 1 @ WBS 2

Following the suspended game, the Penguins returned home for a quick stopover before a pair in New England. The Laval Rocket were waiting.

The Penguins kicked off the scoring in the first period on a power play. With Jesse Ylönen in the penalty box for hooking, Alex Nylander scored his second power play goal of the season, with Ty Smith and Drake Caggiula assisting.

WBS doubled their lead at 13:36 of the first, with Nathan Legare’s first goal of the season. Sam Houde got the only assist for a beautiful breakaway pass.

Dustin Tokarski took it from there, conceding only Gabriel Bourque’s power play goal just 3:03 from full time.

Tokarski finished with 26 saves in the victory and third star honors on the night. Nylander’s goal was good enough for second star, while Legare’s game-winner took top honors on the night.

Saturday, October 22: WBS 4 @ Hartford 3 (SO)

WBS played very naughty guests for Hartford’s home opener on Saturday night, scoring the first three goals of the game against former Penguins goaltender Louis Domingue. Scoring first was Corey Andonovski, who opened his AHL account with his first of the year by deflecting in a point shot from defender Ty Smith. Tyler Sikura also recorded an assist.

WBS expanded the lead to 3-0 in the second period with Alex Nylander’s third goal of the year at 4:37 of the second and Filip Hållander’s first of the season at 11:22 of the second.

Hartford roared back from there, though. Two power play goals, one each from Julien Gauthier and C.J. Smith, brought Hartford back to 3-2 in the third period, then Smith scored again at 17:23 of the third to tie the game.

Overtime brought no goals, so a shootout was required. Penguins starting goaltender Filip Lindberg recovered from losing the lead to stop all three Hartford shooters, while Nylander scored in the shootout to give WBS the extra point and their second win in as many nights. Lindberg finished the night with 27 saves on 30 shots, while Domingue stopped 30 of 33 WBS shots.

Ty Smith took third star with his assist, Nylander took second with his goal and shootout goal, and Smith took top honors for Hartford with his two goals.

Sunday, October 23: WBS 2 @ Providence 1

To close out their weekend, with Sam Poulin and Drake Caggiula diverted to the parent Pittsburgh Penguins, WBS ventured to Providence.

The first two periods went scoreless, with Dustin Tokarski and Providence’s Keith Kinkaid trading saves. Kinkaid made 11 saves over the first two periods, while Tokarski made 18.

WBS broke through first in the third period, as Ty Glover scored his first professional goal at 6:01. Lukas Svejkovsky recorded his first pro assist on the goal.

Just 1:55 later, a more familiar face joined the goal ranks for the season, as Valtteri Puustinen scored his first of the season with Filip Hållander assisting.

Puustinen’s goal would be the game winner, as Joona Koppanen broke Tokarski’s clean sheet at 13:47 of the third with his first of the year on a power play. Luke Toporowski and Victor Berglund assisted.

Tokarski locked down the game from there to finish with 30 saves on 31 shots, the game’s second star, and roughing and misconduct penalties at full time following a dustup after the final whistle between Tyler Sikura and Toporowski. Koppanen’s goal was good for third star, while Puustinen’s game winner took top honors.

Atlantic Division Standings, as of the games of October 23:

  1. Charlotte Checkers: 4 games played, 4-0-0, 8 points
  2. Bridgeport Islanders: 5 games played, 4-1-0, 8 points
  3. WBS Penguins: 4 games played, 3-0-1, 7 points
  4. Providence Bruins: 5 games played, 3-1-1, 7 points
  5. Hershey Bears: 4 games played, 2-1-1, 5 points
  6. Lehigh Valley Phantoms: 4 games played, 2-1-1, 5 points
  7. Springfield Thunderbirds: 5 games played, 2-3-0, 4 points
  8. Hartford Wolf Pack: 4 games played, 0-2-2, 2 points

Team Statistics:

Alex Nylander leads the team with three goals through the first two weeks of action. Seven other players have hit the goal sheet, among them the promoted Sam Poulin and rookies Ty Glover and Corey Andonovski. Ty Smith leads the team with three assists, while Nylander, Xavier Ouellet, and Drew O’Connor have two each. Nylander’s five points leads the team.

Through three starts, Dustin Tokarski has a record of 2-0-1, a GAA of 1.63, a save percentage of .938, and the team’s penalty minute lead with 14. Filip Lindberg, who is still considered a rookie by the AHL’s standards, has a record of 1-0-0, a 2.93 GAA, and a .886 save percentage in two appearances.

Next Up:

Three games in four days for WBS this week, as the Penguins welcome Cleveland to town on Wednesday, October 26, start time 7:05 pm EDT. Then it’s two on the road against classic rivals, as WBS visits Lehigh Valley for the first time this season on Friday, October 28, start time 7:05 pm EDT. Following that, it’s a Saturday night in Hershey, start time 7:00 pm EDT.