The WBS Penguins started the season at home against the Charlotte Checkers, a new addition to the Atlantic Division this year. The game started off with the announcement that both Jarred Tinordi and Colin Smith were both out injured with undisclosed injuries that will put them on the shelf at a week-to-week basis.
The lineup Clark Donatelli went with for the opening night was:
Interesting notes on the lineup:
No Taylor or Prow on the backend. The depth on the Baby Penguins’ blue line is pretty ridiculous that they can absorb an injury to Tinordi and still be able to scratch Prow on merit.
Pedan and Corrado as a pairing is interesting. Both have history playing for the Utica Comets, so may have some familiarity there, but I can’t confirm that.
Dea shifting back to C between Sprong and Aston-Reese is pretty intriguing. Despite being a center in junior, Dea’s spent most of his pro career as a RW. A shift back to center wasn’t really predicted for Dea, but having lost McKegg to the NHL Penguins, there was an opening as top 9 center with Smith out injured.
Takeaways From The Game
The Penguins started brightly, converting on the powerplay which featured three of the brighter talents in the Penguins system with Bengtsson running the powerplay with Sprong occupying the left half wall and Aston-Reese planting himself in front of the opposing goaltender. While the initial movement was good, it took a stretch pass from goalie Tristan Jarry to send Sprong in on the right wing after a slow change from Charlotte to bring about the first goal of the game, with Sprong rocketing the puck over Jeremy Smith’s pad in the Charlotte net and beating his blocker. The Penguins dictated the rest of the first period from that point, despite a rocky start with plenty of turnovers on both sides. That was until a failed clear off a faceoff from DiPauli and Sestito resulted in Zykov capitalizing to tie the game at 1. Another negative in the first period was Trotman awkwardly hitting the boards and seemingly injuring his shoulder. He never returned to the game.
The Penguins then spent a significant period of the 2nd period on the penalty kill, with 5 separate minor penalties. The Baby Penguins successfully killed the first 4 of these penalties, even managing to take the lead on a DiPauli short-handed marker in which Teddy Blueger showed off his improved skating to apply pressure to Charlotte in their own zone, forcing a turnover and finding DiPauli whose initial one timer was saved before he followed up on his backhand. Everything was looking rosy for Wilkes-Barre. This was until Warren Foegele got tied up with Jarry in front of the net, and angry old man/captain Tom Kostopoulos took issue, attempting to remonstrate Foegele’s actions with his fist. Foegele, fully aware of the concept of dad strength, thought better of this, turtling on the ground and causing Kostopoulos to take a rough penalty. In the penalty the Penguins would have wanted to kill off the most, their captain sticking up for their goaltender, Charlotte finally converted with some quick puck movement and jumping on a rebound to tie the game 2-2. 49 seconds later, Charlotte took the lead after a poor entry from the Penguins on the PP, in which Dea tried to drop the puck to a stationary Sprong. This resulted in a 2 on 1 going the other way, with Foegele being the one to score. In the 2nd period, the Penguins ended up being outshot 22-9 as a result of 8+ minutes of shorthanded ice time.
The 3rd period was a pretty even affair, with Charlotte managing to take advantage of a risky gamble from Christian Thomas playing the point on the powerplay, who attempted to jump on a loose puck where he was beaten to it by new WBS folk enemy Foegele who potted his second goal of the game shorthanded. Despite receiving another PP opportunity towards the end of the game, the Penguins couldn’t score, finally conceding an empty netter and losing their opening tilt 5-2.
A lack of offensive spark throughout the game, combined with poor discipline, resulted in a disappointing start for the WBS Penguins.