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WBS Weekly: Penguins drop Outdoor Classic 3-2 in overtime

After a loss to Hershey midweek and the disappointment at the home of the Browns, WBS beat Cleveland 6-4 on Sunday to end the week on a high note.

FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, set up for the Outdoor Classic between the WBS Penguins and the Cleveland Monsters
Elaine Shircliff, @imaraindancer

Wednesday, March 1: WBS 3 @ Hershey 5

Before heading to Cleveland for the Outdoor Classic this weekend, WBS made a stopover at GIANT Center to conclude their 12-game season series with the Hershey Bears. Henrik Borgstrom opened the scoring for Hershey at 9:49 of the first with his 8th goal of the season. WBS tied the score at 17:32 of the first on a power play through Justin Addamo, who had just signed his fourth PTO of the season with WBS prior to the game. It was Addamo’s first AHL goal, assisted by Colin Swoyer and Lukas Svejkovsky.

Hershey took control in the second period with a pair of goals. First, Ethen Frank scored his 24th goal of the season on a power play at 6:02 of the second. Then, at 19:02 of the second, Joe Snively scored his 6th of the season to make the score 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Addamo doubled his scoring at 3:38 of the third with his second power play goal of the game, assisted by Nathan Légaré and Mitch Reinke.

Just 1:33 later, Alex Nylander scored his 24th goal of the season off a Jon Lizotte assist to tie the game at 3.

Unfortunately, WBS could not break the tie, as Snively scored his 2nd of the night and 7th of the season with 4:05 to play. Mike Vecchione put a bow on it with an empty netter at 18:26 of the third to give Hershey the 5-3 victory and split the season series with WBS at 6 wins each.

Hershey goaltender Zach Fucale stopped 25 of 28 Penguins shots for the win, while Dustin Tokarski stopped 30 of 34 Hershey shots in the losing effort.

Saturday, March 4 (Cleveland Monsters Outdoor Classic): WBS 2 @ Cleveland 3 (OT)

There is a misprint on that lineup, as Nathan Légaré suited up on the third line in place of one of the Corey Andonovskis.

The weather for the Outdoor Classic Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium was absolutely gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky, sunshine blazing…the weather was so good, in fact, that the ice suffered for it. As a result, a scheduled 1:05 pm EST start was pushed back to 6:00 pm EST to allow for shadows to overtake the ice.

Once the game got going, WBS took control very early. Peter DiLiberatore, acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday in exchange for Teddy Blueger, opened the scoring at 5:42 of the first with his first goal of the season, assisted by Kyle Olson and Jamie Devane.

Raivis Ansons extended the lead to 2-0 at 15:06 of the first with a shorthanded goal, his 2nd goal of the season. Olson and Taylor Fedun provided assists.

Cleveland started to claw back late in the second period, as Justin Richards scored his 10th goal of the season on a power play at 19:28 of the second. The Monsters then tied the game at 1:25 of the third, as Marcus Bjork scored his 4th of the season.

The game would eventually go to overtime, where Bjork scored his 2nd of the game and 5th of the season with a significant bit of controversy to win the Outdoor Classic. You can see the full play at the end of the highlight package below, but it certainly appears as though Penguins goaltender Dustin Tokarski has a shot covered for a stoppage. Play was allowed to continue, and Bjork managed to poke the puck home.

Tokarski finished with 28 saves on 31 shots and a misconduct penalty for abuse of officials. Cleveland goaltender Jet Greaves finished with 19 saves on 21 shots for the win.

Sunday, March 5: WBS 6 @ Cleveland 4

The return game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Sunday was a wild affair, with plenty of scraps, line dustups, and the sort. It also featured 10 goals.

Roman Ahcan started the proceedings for Cleveland at 9:01 of the first period with his 5th of the year. WBS’s Ty Glover matched the goal at 11:55 with only the 10th successful penalty shot in WBS history.

Cleveland restored the lead at 15:12 of the first through Carson Meyer’s 7th goal of the season on a power play. Glover doubled his fun at 9:20 of the second to tie the game at 2, with Jack St. Ivany and Drake Caggiula assisting.

Cleveland then responded with two quick goals, with Trey Fix-Wolansky (24) and Alex Whelan (3) scoring 41 seconds apart to put Cleveland up 4-2.

WBS counterpunched from that, with Taylor Fedun (2) and Caggiula (13) scoring 1:09 apart to tie the game at 4. Raivis Ansons assisted on Fedun’s goal, while Valtteri Puustinen and Alex Nylander assisted on Caggiula’s power play goal.

WBS scored the knockout punch at 13:59 of the third, as Caggiula scored his 2nd power play goal of the game. Puustinen and Mitch Reinke assisted on the goal, Caggiula’s 14th of the season.

Nylander put the cherry on top with an empty net goal at 19:14, his 25th goal of the season. Ansons and Jon Lizotte assisted, as WBS broke a four-game losing streak.

Taylor Gauthier stopped 29 of 33 shots in the winning effort for the Penguins, while Daniil Tarasov stopped 29 of 34 shots for the loss.

Atlantic Division Standings, through the games of March 5

  1. Hershey Bears: 55 games played, 34-14-5-2, 75 points
  2. Providence Bruins: 55 games played, 32-13-8-2, 74 points
  3. Charlotte Checkers: 56 games played, 32-19-3-2, 69 points
  4. Lehigh Valley Phantoms: 56 games played, 28-22-3-3, 62 points
  5. Springfield Thunderbirds: 55 games played, 28-21-2-4, 62 points
  6. Bridgeport Islanders: 55 games played, 25-22-7-1, 58 points
  7. Hartford Wolf Pack: 55 games played, 24-21-3-7, 58 points
  8. WBS Penguins: 55 games played, 23-23-4-5, 55 points


Alex Nylander’s empty-netter on Sunday put him to 25 goals to lead WBS, and he now ranks fifth in the AHL in goals. He’s only 3 behind the league leader, Matthew Phillips from Calgary, and he’s 9 away from the all-time single-season WBS record of 34 (Chris Minard, 2008-09). Valtteri Puustinen’s 21 goals tie him for 16th in the AHL.

Nylander also leads WBS in points with 50 (T-14th in AHL), three ahead of Puustinen’s 47 and 10 ahead of Drake Caggiula, who ends the week with 14 goals and 26 assists.

Dustin Tokarski ends the week with a record of 10-9-5, a 2.47 GAA, and a .917 save percentage. Taylor Gauthier ends the week with a record of 7-2-3, a GAA of 2.53, and a .914 save percentage in 15 appearances.

The WBS power play ends the week with a conversion percentage of 20.4%, rising to 11th in the AHL. The penalty kill ends the week at 80.3%, 20th in the AHL.

The Week Ahead

WBS now returns home for a four-game homestand starting Wednesday, March 8, as the Toronto Marlies come to town for a 7:05 pm EST face off. Lehigh Valley visits on Friday, March 10, for a 7:05 pm EST engagement, then Utica comes in Saturday, March 11, start time 6:05 pm EST.