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WBS Weekly: Penguins drop two gams in Canada to stumble into holidays

Toronto and Belleville teamed up to ruin WBS’s pre-Christmas Canadian tour.

Penguins defender and alternate captain Xavier Ouellet, who scored his first two goals of the season this week.

On account of the dangerous winter storm attacking the United States and Canada leading into Christmas, the game on Friday night, December 23 between the WBS Penguins and the Laval Rocket was postponed. At press time, the game has not yet been rescheduled.

Tuesday, December 20: WBS 2 @ Toronto 5

The WBS Penguins opened up their Canadian road trip with a Tuesday night visit to the Toronto Marlies. Toronto wasted little time taking control of the game, as former Penguin Joseph Blandisi scored his eighth goal of the season at 5:47 of the first period. Things went downhill from there, as Ryan Chyzowski (2), Noel Hoefenmayer (8, power play), and Marshall Rifai (2) expanded the lead to 4-0 after two periods.

WBS attempted a late comeback, as Xavier Ouellet finally entered the goal column with his first of the year at 12:28 of the third to break the shutout bid of Toronto starter Joseph Woll.

WBS made it 4-2 at 18:10 of the third, as Alex Nylander became the first Penguin this season to hit double digits in goals. His 10th of the season came on a power play.

WBS could get no further, though, as Nick Abruzzese fired his eighth goal of the season into an empty net at 19:04 of the third to seal away the 5-2 victory.

Dustin Tokarski stopped only 23 of 27 Toronto shots in the losing effort, while Woll stopped 37 of 39 WBS shots to take the evening’s top honors. Blandisi and Hoefenmayer took second and third honors respectively with a goal and an assist each. Both teams went 1 for 5 on their respective power plays.

Wednesday, December 21: WBS 1 @ Belleville 3

The Penguins were hoping to bounce back from the Toronto loss the next night in Belleville, but they instead left with another loss and potentially the recurrence of a huge problem from last season.

WBS started goaltender Filip Lindberg for the second of back-to-back games, but he only lasted 13:05 and three saves on three shots before departing the game. Dustin Tokarski took over for the rest of the game and finished with 27 saves on 30 shots, many of them strong, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Belleville’s Jayce Hawryluk opened the scoring at 14:23 of the second on a power play, but Xavier Ouellet matched him at 15:58 of the second with his second goal in as many nights.

Belleville retook the lead at 2:23 of the third period through Brennan Saulnier’s fourth of the season, then iced the game away through a shorthanded penalty shot goal by Ridly Greig at 7:45 of the third.

Saulnier took third star on the night. Belleville starting goaltender Mads Sogaard saved 24 of 25 WBS shots for second honors on the night, and Greig’s penalty shot goal was enough for top honors.

Atlantic Division Standings, as of Christmas Day:

  1. Hershey Bears: 29 games played, 20-6-3, 43 points
  2. Providence Bruins: 28 games played, 16-5-7, 39 points
  3. Bridgeport Islanders: 28 games played, 14-9-5, 33 points
  4. Charlotte Checkers: 28 games played, 14-11-3, 31 points
  5. WBS Penguins: 25 games played, 13-8-4, 30 points
  6. Lehigh Valley Phantoms: 27 games played, 13-11-3, 29 points
  7. Springfield Thunderbirds: 29 games played, 11-13-5, 27 points
  8. Hartford Wolf Pack: 27 games played, 10-12-5, 25 points


With points leader Drew O’Connor still on recall to Pittsburgh, Alex Nylander, Valtteri Puustinen, and Filip Hållander share the active scoring lead on the team. Nylander has 10 goals and 10 assists in 25 games; Puustinen has 9 goals and 11 assists in 26 games; Hållander has 7 goals and 13 assists in 21 games. Xavier Ouellet leads defenders on the team with 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists), with Ty Smith just behind at 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists).

Two rough appearances this week have taken Dustin Tokarski down the goalie standings a bit at the Christmas break. Tokarski holds a record of 8-5-3, a GAA of 2.20 that is now fourth in the AHL, and a save percentage of .926 that ties for fourth in the AHL. Filip Lindberg’s 13 minutes of clean action lowered his GAA to 2.39 (8th in the AHL), and his three saves increased his save percentage to .915 (13th in the AHL).

The WBS power play ends the week at a conversion percentage of 18.6%, falling back to 22nd in the AHL. The penalty kill is up to 82.5% and 10th in the AHL.

The Week Ahead

WBS closes out calendar year 2022 with a trio of games. League-leading Hershey comes to town for their 9th game of the season against the Penguins Tuesday, December 27th, start time 7:05 pm EST. The Providence Bruins come to town Friday, December 30, start time 7:05 pm EST. WBS then visits Lehigh Valley on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31 to close out 2022. Start time is given at 7:05 pm.