WBS Penguins Gameday: Penguins vs. River Rats

Last Game Recap:
Jesse Boulerice scored his second goal in as many nights and Tim Wallace had two assists as the Penguins completed a weekend sweep with a 4-3 win over the Adirondack Phantoms. After Andreas Nodl scored at 10:21 of the second period to break a scoreless tie, Zach Sill answered back 53 seconds later with his second goal of the season.

The back and forth hockey continued in the third period with Luca Caputi and Stefan Legein trading goals 46 seconds apart. However, Boulerice and Dustin Jeffrey gave the Penguins a cushion by scoring at 9:40 and 18:30 respectively. Jared Ross pulled the Phantoms within one at 19:29 while goalie John Grahame was pulled for an extra attacker, but Adirondack would not force an extra frame.

The Penguins are now on their first three game winning streak since December 26th-December 28th. Adam Berkhoel made 26 saves on 29 shots for his first goaltending win with WBS since January 2nd over Rochester.

Three Stars of the Game:
3. Andreas Nodl (Adirondack): second period goal
2. Jesse Boulerice (WBS): third period goal, +2
1. Dustin Jeffrey (WBS): two points (1+1), +1

WBS Scratches:
Jon D’Aversa
Alex Grant
Chris Conner
Ryan Bayda
Keven Veilleux

News and Notes:
Chris Conner missed Sunday’s game for personal reasons.

Ryan Bayda had knee surgery this past Friday and is out for the rest of the season.

Mark Letestu and John Curry were re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday morning for the Olympic break.

With Curry back in WBS, Adam Berkhoel was re-assigned to Wheeling.

WBS current record: 26-26-1-1 (54 points; third in East Division)

Next Game:
Who: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. River Rats
When: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 7:05 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

Last Penguins/River Rats meeting:
Back on December 27th, the Pens completed a sweep of a home and home series with Albany with a 3-2 win. Mark Letestu scored two goals for the Penguins, while Nick Johnson netted the game winning goal in the third period. The Jeffrey-Johnson-Letestu line combined for seven points and a +7 rating. Adam Berkhoel stopped 24 of 26 saves for the victory.

About the River Rats:

The River Rats are the only team in the division who are close to Hershey in the standings; with an overall record of 29-20-3-3 for 64 points and second in the East Division. This has been a strong comeback year for the Rats since they failed to make the playoffs last year; finishing seventh in the division with a record of 33-40-3-4 and 73 points. Their power play is currently ranked 22nd with a 16.2% success rate, and their penalty kill is ranked 81.7% for 17th in the AHL. Their last game was a 2-1 win over Norfolk on Sunday.

Unfortunately, it was recently announced that the River Rats will be moved to Charlotte next season. The team will be called the Charlotte Checkers and make the transition from the ECHL to the AHL. Carolina is Albany’s NHL affiliate and the move was done to have the Canes prospects closer to Raleigh. Albany is a good candidate to have another team in the future, but it is unknown which NHL club will move in.

Fast Fact:
Friday will mark the one year anniversary of a bus crash that injured several River Rats players on the way home from a game in Lowell. Former Penguin Joe Jensen suffered a concussion in the crash and has not played since.

River Rats to Watch:
Rookie defenseman Jamie McBain is currently on a seven game point streak. He has 10 points(1+9) in Albany’s last seven games. He is on second on the team for 30 points (5+25) this season.

Jiri Tlusty, who came to Albany in a Carolina/Toronto trade back in December, has eight points in his last six games (5+3). In 29 games with the Marlies and River Rats, he has 13 goals and 10 assists.

Ali’s Analysis:
Right now, everything is going right for the Penguins. Brad Thiessen is finding his stride. Scoring is coming from unlikely places, and Pittsburgh sent back more help for at least two weeks. However, the Penguins still need to tighten their game and avoid mistakes such as allowing a game tying goal less than a minute after taking a lead. If the Penguins stay focused, they will be on their way to four wins in a row for the first time since the end of 2009.

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