Welcome to the WBS recap for the weekend of November the 5th. The Baby Penguins enter the weekend riding a 5-game winning streak and begin the weekend in Lehigh Valley playing against the Flyers’ affiliate Phantoms, then host Washington’s affiliate Hershey on Sunday afternoon.
Zach Trotman and Frank Corrado are still up with Pittsburgh, with Tristan Jarry going up to become the backup to Matt Murray, which allows DeSmith to return to WBS. Tinordi, Taylor, Colin Smith and Troy Josephs are still all out injured entering the weekend, although all but Josephs have begun to practice and are listed as day-to-day. Kostopoulos is a new addition to the injured list, who is day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Friday Night (11/3/17)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Away) – 6-5 SO Win
Prow and Spionzzi stay in as Zink remains scratched on the backend, with Tiffels, Burton and McGrath getting scratched up front. DeSmith is the goalie for the night. A back and forth game that was certainly not lacking in entertainment, containing a 7 goal 2nd period, Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton decided that defending wasn’t on the menu, playing to a 5-5 tie and heading to overtime off the back of another 2-goal night for Ryan Haggerty. Despite receiving one full 2-minute powerplay, the Baby Penguins couldn’t capitalize and headed to the shootout, which was won in the third round by the Olympic hopeful Christian Thomas in his last game before departing for the Karjala Cup in Finland.
Sunday Afternoon (11/5/17)
Hershey Bears (Home) – 3-2 SO Loss
Taylor, Josephs and Kostopoulos remain out through injury. Healthy scratches of Prow, Spinozzi, Di Pauli, Burton, Thomas and McGrath lead to season debuts for Colin Smith and Jarred Tinordi returning from injury and a return to the lineup for Tiffels and Zink. Another game that headed to OT, the Baby Penguins again got themselves into a special teams battle, giving up 7 powerplay opportunities and receiving 6 of their own. However, the PP ran dry, including an extended 5 on 3 in the 2nd period that they failed to convert. Zach Aston-Reese did manage to pot his 1st goal of the year after receiving such little puck luck earlier in the season. In OT, DeSmith kept the Penguins in the game with multiple sparkling saves, but none of the Penguins shooters converted in the shootout, only getting the Penguins 1 point.
1) Zach Aston-Reese finally got off the mark on the season and you could tell from his celebration how relieved he is. He’s struggled to get any puck luck so far this year, and was getting visibly frustrated in his last few games. His goal came from battling behind the net, winning the puck in a 2 on 2 battle and driving to the front of the net banking the puck off Copley in the Hershey net. Hopefully this spurs him to pot a couple more opportunities, as he’d been moved around the line up recently in an effort to spark him. He did also get his first fight of the year against Bridgeport after laying a crunching hit. For a college kid, he sure knows how to handle himself with no gloves on.
2) I hope that Casey DeSmith has a bright future in the NHL, but I get such a massive Brad Thiessen vibe from him. He moves well enough to be an AHL all-star, and puts up some eye popping numbers, but his height and goalie style will work against him and while we only saw him for a short period of time in the NHL, I saw a lot of the same faults that prevented Thiessen from jumping to the next level. I hope I am wrong on DeSmith, but it’s very, very difficult for a 6’0 tall goalie to make it in the NHL.
3) WBS has a serious discipline issue, and no player is indicative of that more than Andrey Pedan. Through 10 games, he has 8 minor penalties for 16 PIMs total. This falls in line with him having 100 PIMs last year, despite only picking up 2 fight majors. As a team, the Baby Penguins end up shorthanded 6.4 times per game. By my bad maths, that puts them 2nd in the entire league to Hershey in regards to times shorthanded per game. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s one saving grace is that their PK is currently clicking at a 86% kill rate, which is thankfully towards the top number in the league.