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WBS Weekly: WBS Penguins ride another perfect week to best record in AHL

Three wins in three places in four days, and the Penguins stand atop the league at the end of October. Check out all the highlights.

Penguins forward Drew O’Connor during his three-point performance Wednesday night against Cleveland.

Wednesday, October 26: Cleveland 1 @ WBS 5

The WBS Penguins opened their three game slate this week with their first of the season against the top affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Cleveland Monsters. The four-game series with the Monsters is unique among WBS’s opponents this season, as it includes only the second outdoor game in WBS history. On Saturday, March 4, 2023, WBS heads out to Cleveland for the weekend, the first of their two games will be outdoors at FirstEnergy Stadium, the usual home of the Cleveland Browns.

But that’s for March. On Wednesday, WBS enjoyed goals from four different scorers to rout the Monsters 5-1. Ty Smith opened the scoring with his second goal of the year at 3:58 of the first, unassisted.

Drew O’Connor doubled the lead at 10:45 with his first of the season, getting assists from Corey Andonovski and Ty Glover. For Glover, it was his first professional point.

Alex Nylander tripled the lead at 4:32 of the second with his fourth goal of the season, assisted by Lukas Svejkovsky and Xavier Ouellet.

Cole Fonstad for Cleveland broke the clean sheet for starting goaltender Dustin Tokarski at 12:49 of the second with a power play goal, his first goal of the season. Valtteri Puustinen restored the three-goal lead at 8:05 of the third with his own power play goal, his second of the season, assisted by Filip Hållander and O’Connor.

O’Connor then closed out the proceedings with his second goal of the night and third point of the game at 10:20 of the third period. Jack St. Ivany scored the primary assist, his first professional point, with Hållander getting the secondary assist.

Hållander took third star honors on the evening with his pair of assists. Tokarski stopped everything else he faced for a total of 32 saves on 33 shots and second star honors. Top honors went to O’Connor for his three-point night.

Friday, October 28: WBS 3 @ Lehigh Valley 1

WBS’s first visit to Lehigh Valley of the season didn’t have the best start in the world, as Max Willman scored his second goal of the season for the Phantoms at 18:14 of the first. The Phantoms managed to hold the lead late into the second period, but Puustinen squared the proceedings at 14:06 of the second with a power play goal. It was Puustinen’s third straight game with a goal, with O’Connor and Nylander assisting.

The third period tiebreaker came from Tyler Sikura, who scored his first for WBS with only 2:33 left in the third period. Hållander and Andonovski got the assists.

Andonovski answered all remaining questions with 1:19 to go in the third, scoring his second goal of the season off a gorgeous Jonathan Gruden assist.

Willman’s goal in the first period was all that Tokarski conceded, locking down the final 40 minutes with a total of 11 saves across the final two periods and a total of 22 on 23 shots. Curiously enough, his performance didn’t get a star from the Phantoms, as it was instead Lehigh Valley starter Samuel Ersson who took third honors with 32 saves on 35 shots in a losing effort. Even more curiously, Willman was awarded second honors for his goal. Andonovski took top honors on the night with his goal and assist.

Saturday, October 29: WBS 2 @ Hershey 1 (OT)

The box score for Saturday’s game in Hershey looks somewhat boring, with WBS starting goaltender Filip Lindberg finishing with 28 saves on 29 shots and Hershey’s Hunter Shepard finishing with 27 saves on 29 shots. But the first game of the season between the Penguins and Bears was a showcase for the two netminders, as buried in those save numbers were a number of truly spectacular stops.

Hershey’s Sonny Milano, veteran of 197 NHL games coming into Saturday’s contest, scored his second goal for the Bears at 6:48 of the first period, with familiar names Garrett Pilon and Mike Sgarbossa assisting. WBS matched the goal at 17:24 of the first through Andonovski, who scored his fourth point of the weekend, second goal in as many games, and 3rd goal of the season through sheer force of will.

From there, the goaltenders took over. Here’s one such example, as Lindberg denied a breakaway from Milano in the third.

Lindberg and Shepard went save for save over the last 40 minutes, each recording 19. The game went to overtime, which featured two more stellar saves from each goaltender before Hållander ended the proceedings.

Hållander’s second of the season, assisted by Puustinen, scored top honors on the night and completed the month of October without any regulation losses for the Penguins. As the Penguins woke up on Sunday morning, they held the AHL’s best record at 6-0-1, dropping only the opening night point to Lehigh Valley and closing out the month with six straight wins. Milano’s goal was good for second honors, while Shepard took third honors.

Atlantic Division standings, through the games of October 30:

  1. WBS Penguins: 7 games played, 6-0-1, 13 points
  2. Providence Bruins: 8 games played, 5-1-2, 12 points
  3. Bridgeport Islanders: 7 games played, 5-1-1, 11 points
  4. Charlotte Checkers: 6 games played, 4-1-1, 9 points
  5. Springfield Thunderbirds: 8 games played, 4-3-1, 9 points
  6. Hershey Bears: 7 games played, 3-2-2, 8 points
  7. Hartford Wolf Pack: 6 games played, 2-2-2, 6 points
  8. Lehigh Valley Phantoms: 7 games played, 2-4-1, 5 points


The Penguins’ strongest performers from last season are once again fueling the team’s success this season, which is a great sign for the future. Alex Nylander leads with 4 goals, and Valtteri Puustinen is tied with rookie Corey Andonovski with 3 for second place. Filip Hållander, Drew O’Connor, and Ty Smith have two each, with Ty Glover, Tyler Sikura, and Nathan Legare also scoring goals among active players. Hållander, Xavier Ouellet, and O’Connor tie for the team lead in assists with 4 each, with Nylander and Smith having 3 each. Nylander’s 7 points leads the team.

Dustin Tokarski has excelled in his return to the WBS net. In 5 games in October, Tokarski sports a 4-0-1 record, a 1.38 GAA, and a .949 save percentage to lead all AHL qualified goalies in GAA and finish a thousandth of a point behind the joint leaders in save percentage. Filip Lindberg hasn’t been a slouch in his return from injury, posting two wins, a 2.17 GAA, and a .915 save percentage in the month, but Tokarski has been stellar.

Only two games on tap for WBS this weekend, and both are against the Hershey Bears. Hershey comes to WBS Saturday, November 5, start time 6:05 pm EDT, and WBS goes to Hershey following the Daylight Savings Time shift Sunday, November 6, start time 4:30 pm EST.