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WBS Weekly: Reinforcements return to end two game losing streak

After dropping home games to Syracuse and Lehigh Valley, Dustin Tokarski returned to WBS to backstop a 3-2 win at Bridgeport.

Penguins forward Jamie Devane and Lehigh Valley forward Hayden Hodgson fight during their game Friday night.

Wednesday, January 18: Syracuse 3 @ WBS 2

The WBS Penguins opened their week with their first game of the season against their one-time division rivals, the Syracuse Crunch. After a scoreless first period, Syracuse forward Alex Barré-Boulet scored his 10th goal of the season at 2:27 of the second to put the Crunch up 1-0. The goal tied the Syracuse franchise record in points, a record which Barré-Boulet would break later in the week with an assist Friday night in Utica.

Penguins forward Drake Caggiula tied the game at 9:44 of the second with his 8th goal of the season. Lukas Svejkovsky and Tyler Sikura recorded assists.

Just before the end of the second period, another Crunch player hit a milestone. This time, it was the 400th career AHL point for Syracuse captain Gabriel Dumont, whose 9th goal of the season 39 seconds from the end of the second period gave the Crunch a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Syracuse expanded the lead to 3-1 at 12:28 of the third through Daniel Walcott’s 8th of the season. The goal ended up being the game-winner, as Alex Nylander scored his 15th of the season at 18:46 of the third to close the final margin of victory to 3-2 for Syracuse.

Syracuse goaltender Hugo Alnefelt took the victory with 26 saves on 28 shots, while WBS’s Filip Lindberg saved 25 of 28 Syracuse shots in the losing effort.

Friday, January 20: Lehigh Valley 5 @ WBS 2

WBS closed out the first half of their schedule with their 5th game out of 12 this season against their bitter division rivals from Lehigh Valley. Lukas Svejkovsky opened the scoring at 9:58 of the first with his 2nd goal of his rookie season, assisted by Tyler Sikura and Mitch Reinke.

Unfortunately, the good vibes ended there. The vibes turned extremely bad in the second period, as Lehigh Valley posted 4 goals in the middle 20 minutes. Phantoms All-Star Tyson Foerster led the charge with two goals, his 12th and 13th of the season, while Wyatte Wylie and Bobby Brink scored the other goals. It was an overall ugly period for WBS, as the Phantoms outshot them 19-5.

WBS tried to spark another 3rd period comeback, as Nathan Légaré scored his 5th goal of the season at 3:39 of the third to bring WBS back to 4-2. Sikura and Chris Ortiz recorded assists.

The comeback bid was short-lived, though, as former Penguin Jordy Bellerive scored his 4th goal of the season just 2:17 after Légaré’s goal to restore the three-goal lead at 5-2 and clinch Lehigh Valley’s first regulation win of the season over the Penguins.

Then, the vibes got ugly. In a span of 21 seconds, WBS and Lehigh Valley sparked four different fights, with Wheeling callup Josh Maniscalco, enforcer Jamie Devane, Corey Andonovski, and Sean Josling all getting into dustups.

Phantoms goaltender Samuel Ersson recorded his 10th win of the season for Lehigh Valley with 28 saves on 30 shots, while Filip Lindberg stopped 28 of 33 shots in a losing effort.

Saturday, January 21: WBS 3 @ Bridgeport 2

Thanks to Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry and Jeff Petry returning to full fitness, Pittsburgh returned goaltender Dustin Tokarski and defender/captain Taylor Fedun back to WBS on Friday. Both rejoined the game night roster on Saturday in Bridgeport to open the second half of the season.

Sam Houde opened the scoring at 15:51 of the first period with his 8th goal of the season on a power play. Colin Swoyer and Nathan Légaré recorded assists.

Just one minute later, Alex Nylander scored his 16th goal of the season, with Drake Caggiula and Tyler Sikura assisting. It was originally thought that captain Taylor Fedun got the second assist, which would have been his 200th career AHL point, but the assist was later changed to Sikura.

Bridgeport responded quickly through their own All-Star, Samuel Bolduc. Bolduc scored his 7th goal of the season at 17:58 of the first to bring Bridgeport back to 2-1. Then, at 3:31 of the second, he fired a shot off Tokarski’s glove, off the crossbar, then back off Tokarski and into the net in the resulting scramble. It counted as Bolduc’s 8th of the season, and it tied the game at 2.

WBS broke the tie at 18:07 of the second through Drake Caggiula’s 9th goal of the season. Nylander and Sikura recorded assists.

That goal was enough, as WBS held Bridgeport to only two shots in the 3rd period to see out the 3-2 victory.

Tokarski finished with 22 saves on 24 shots in his return to WBS, including this beauty in the third period.

Cory Schneider started the game for Bridgeport and saved 23 of 26 shots in two periods before being replaced by Jakub Skarek, who saved all 7 of WBS’s third period shots.

Atlantic Division Standings, through the games of January 22:

  1. Hershey Bears: 39 games played, 26-8-4-1, 57 points
  2. Providence Bruins: 39 games played, 23-8-6-2, 54 points
  3. Charlotte Checkers: 39 games played, 20-15-2-2, 44 points
  4. WBS Penguins: 37 games played, 19-13-2-3, 43 points
  5. Lehigh Valley Phantoms: 38 games played, 19-14-3-2, 43 points
  6. Hartford Wolf Pack: 39 games played, 16-14-3-6, 41 points
  7. Springfield Thunderbirds: 40 games played, 18-17-1-4, 41 points
  8. Bridgeport Islanders: 40 games played, 17-16-6-1, 41 points


Alex Nylander leads the Penguins in points at week’s end, with 16 goals and 16 assists for 32 points. Valtteri Puustinen is close behind, with 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points. Drake Caggiula clocks in at third, with 9 goals and a team-leading 18 assists for 27 points. From there, with Filip Hållander still recovering from his scary injury, Drew O’Connor still called up, All-Star Xavier Ouellet still week-to-week, and Jonathan Gruden also called up to Pittsburgh, the next active player on the scoreboard is defender Mitch Reinke with a goal and 15 assists.

WBS has their top two goalies back at week’s end after injury and callups. Dustin Tokarski ends the week with a record of 9-6-4, a GAA of 2.21, a save percentage of .926, and one shutout, while Filip Lindberg holds a record of 6-6-1, a 2.71 GAA, and a .907 save percentage. Among qualified goaltenders, Tokarski’s GAA ranks fourth in the AHL, and his save percentage ties for third in the AHL.

The Week Ahead

The Penguins have a very busy week ahead of them this week with three games and the completion of a fourth on the schedule. First off is a brief trip to Utica Tuesday, January 24, at 7:00 pm EST, to finish off the game against the Comets from October 17 that was cut short by a power outage. The game will resume with 2:43 left in the second period and Utica leading 2-1.

From there, WBS heads up to Rochester to take on the Americans Wednesday, January 25, start time 7:05 pm EST. WBS heads down to Lehigh Valley to take on the Phantoms Friday, January 27, start time 7:05 pm EST. To close out the week, WBS hosts Bridgeport Saturday, January 28, start time 6:05 pm EST.