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Wilkes Report: The week that was in the AHL

The Wilkes-Barre Pens go 2-1-0 in the last week to stay perfect at home


While the Pittsburgh Penguins are struggling at home (and just in general) these days, their minor league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre capped off a 2-1-0 week by winning both of their home games.

Nick Hart at WBSPenguins succinctly summed up the action as such:

Wednesday, Oct. 25 – PENGUINS 5 vs. Hershey 1

The Penguins used a three-goal outburst in a less-than-five-minute span to spur them to a victory in their first meeting of the season against the Bears. Alex Nylander began the scoring with a power-play goal three minutes into the game, while Sam Houde tallied twice for the Penguins.

Saturday, Oct. 28 – PENGUINS 4 vs. Hartford 2

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton picked up right where it left off on Wednesday, scoring early and often to defeat the Wolf Pack. Valtteri Puustinen potted his first of the year at 3:24 of the first period, followed by a shorthanded strike by Joona Koppanen. Jonathan Gruden and Rem Pitlick also tallied in the opening frame, giving the Pens a 4-0 lead before the 14-minute mark.

Sunday, Oct. 29 – PENGUINS 1 at Hershey 6

Hershey exacted revenge on its loss earlier in the week, skating to a lopsided win at Giant Center to even the season series. Sam Poulin notched his first goal of the season with a man-advantage marker in the second period.

Overall, the WB/S Penguins are currently sitting in the top-middle of the pack of the Atlantic Division with a 4-3-0-0 record to start the season.

The AHL Pens will look to keep the home cookin’ going this week, with three more games in Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday (Providence), Friday (Hershey) and Saturday (Belleville).

Movers and shakers

Due to injuries in Pittsburgh, forward Vinnie Hinostroza and goalie Magnus Hellberg are up to the NHL roster. Prospect goalie Taylor Gauthier has been called up from ECHL Wheeling to back-fill the depth in net (2-1-0, .908 save%, 3.33 GAA with Wheeling). WB/S also has Joel Blomqvist and Garret Sparks (AHL contract) currently with the team.

Players of the week

Despite two wins, it was a fairly split week of production that makes spotlighting individuals a little more difficult than you might think. A lot of players throughout the team from Ty Smith to Jonathan Gruden to Sam Poulin all did pretty well and had their moments, but there were few clear-cut individual standouts to a high degree this week.

Sam Houde - isn’t on an NHL contract, but is making the most of his minutes. Initially pushed out by all the numbers from being in the AHL lineup, Houde has played well with six points (2G+4A) in the four games he has dressed.

Valtteri Puustinen - Hinostroza being gone from the AHL opens up a bigger opportunity for Puustinen, who scored his first goal of the season and was named the game’s second star in the 4-2 win over Hartford. After perhaps the worst start to his AHL career (1G+0A in the first seven games), Puustinen remains a very important player for the AHL team to get going.

Bonvie to the AHL Hall of Fame

Words like “icons” and “legends” are over-used in the sports realm, but there’s no doubt Dennis Bonvie is just that. And now the tough guy is going to the AHL Hall of Fame.

From WBSPenguins:

Known as a hard-nosed player who was always ready to stick up for his teammates, Bonvie spent five seasons playing for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (1999-01, 2005-08). His 285 games played rank sixth on the team’s all-time list, while his 1,284 penalty minutes place him first in Penguins history.

A fan favorite during his time in northeast Pennsylvania, Bonvie helped the Penguins to the Calder Cup Finals in 2001 and 2008. He retired following the 2007-08 campaign, and was named a member of the team’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2014.

“No player is more synonymous with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey than Dennis Bonvie,” said Penguins CEO Jeff Barrett. “Dennis was the heart and soul of the team during its early days, both on and off the ice. His style of play endeared him to his teammates and our fans.

“He was the perfect player and person to have as the face of a new franchise, and he’s still loved in the area to this day.”

Remembering Johnny

The report this week would be remiss without pointing out the Pens’ mourning and honoring the loss of former player Adam Johnson.