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WBS Weekly Regular Season Finale: WBS stumbles to the finish line

With nothing left to play for, the Penguins dropped its final two games of the regular season. The best-of-3 opening round series between WBS and Hershey opens Friday.

Penguins goaltender Tommy Nappier defending the net Friday night in Syracuse.

Friday, April 29: WBS 1 @ Syracuse 4

The WBS Penguins entered their final two road games of the season with nothing left to play for, locked into fourth place in the Atlantic Division and having their opening round series with fifth place Hershey already scheduled. However, their opponents for their second-to-last game of the season, Syracuse, still had some work to do. The Crunch could clinch 2nd place in the North Division and home-ice advantage in their best-of-5 division semifinal series with one point in their final two games.

It perhaps wasn’t a surprise, then, that Syracuse prevailed on Friday 4-1.

Remi Elie opened the scoring for the Crunch at 12:48 of the first with his 17th goal of the season. WBS forward Radim Zohorna, on the occasion of his 26th birthday, squared the proceedings with his 12th of the year at 4:42 of the second.

Anthony Angello and Drew O’Connor scored assists; for O’Connor, it was his 20th assist of the season for WBS in just 33 games.

Just 3:15 later, Simon Ryfors broke the tie with his 11th of the season, and the Crunch were on their way. Gabriel Dumont scored his 30th of the season for Syracuse on a power play at 16:48 of the second to give the Crunch some insurance, and Alex Green sealed all remaining doubts at 19:41 of the third with his 5th of the year into an empty net.

Penguins goaltender Tommy Nappier, in his final prep for the playoffs, stopped 33 of 36 shots in the losing effort. Former Penguins goaltender Max Lagace saved 20 of 21 WBS shots for the victory. WBS was unsuccessful in 4 power play attempts, while its penalty kill stopped 2 of 3 Syracuse advantages.

Saturday, April 30: WBS 0 @ Lehigh Valley 3

The Penguins closed out their regular season schedule the same way they opened it: against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The regular season finale started badly for WBS, with Linus Sandin scoring his 8th of the season just 28 seconds into the game.

WBS never really recovered, as the Phantoms added two in the 2nd period. Cal O’Reilly scored his 21st of the season at 16:01 of the second, then Isaac Ratcliffe scored his 11th of the season at 19:38 of the second. The third period passed somewhat quietly to close out a 3-0 Phantoms victory, with no goals.

Phantoms goaltender Felix Sandstrom stopped all 26 shots he faced for his 16th win of the season and his 2nd clean sheet of the campaign. For the Penguins, Alex D’Orio took the net and stopped 26 of 29 shots. O’Reilly’s power play goal was the only one scored by LV in 3 chances, while WBS did not convert either of its 2 opportunities.

Final Atlantic Division Standings

  1. Charlotte Checkers (division champions): 42-24-5-1, .625 points percentage, wins tiebreaker over Springfield by 36 regulation wins to 31
  2. Springfield Thunderbirds (first-round bye): 43-24-6-3, .625
  3. Providence Bruins (home-ice against Bridgeport): 36-25-5-6, .576
  4. WBS Penguins (home-ice against Hershey): 35-33-4-4, .513; wins tiebreaker over Hershey by 26 regulation wins to 23
  5. Hershey Bears: 34-32-6-4, .513
  6. Bridgeport Islanders: 31-30-7-4, .507
  7. Hartford Wolf Pack: 32-32-6-2, .500
  8. Lehigh Valley Phantoms: 29-32-10-5, .480

Final Statistics, powered by HockeyDB

Juuso Riikola’s 34 assists to finish the season land him in a tie for 7th among league defenders.

The 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs begin in earnest tonight, as Providence and Bridgeport start their opening round series with Game 1 in Providence. Game 2 of that series is Wednesday night in Bridgeport, with the as-necessary Game 3 on Friday in Providence. Five of the other 6 opening round series begin either Tuesday or Wednesday, with WBS and Hershey getting the latest start on Friday alongside North and Central Division semifinal series.

Game 1 between Hershey and WBS is set for Friday, May 6, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, start time 7:05 pm EDT. Game 2 is set for Sunday, May 8, at GIANT Center in Hershey at 5:00 pm EDT. If needed, Game 3 will be back at Mohegan Sun Arena Monday, May 9, starting at 7:05 pm EDT.