WBS Penguins Gameday: Penguins vs. Falcons

Last Game Recap:
The Penguins got first period goals from Jesse Boulerice and Nick Johnson and held on for a 2-1 win against Norfolk on Wednesday night.

The Admirals’ only goal came in the third period from Matt Fornataro at the 15:22 mark. The game was also fairly physical with Boulerice and Chris Conner fighting Jaraj Simek and Matt Lashoff respectively. In all, 31 penalties were called by referee Nygel Pelletier (15 for Norfolk and 16 for WBS) with fourteen power play opportunities arising from that total. The Penguins’ power play went 1-for-6 with Johnson’s goal while Norfolk’s power play failed to convert on eight opportunities.

Brad Thiessen earned the win with 29 saves on 30 shots.

Three Stars of the Game:
3. Jesse Boulerice (WBS): power play goal
2. Brad Thiessen (WBS): 29 saves
1. Nick Johnson (WBS): game winning goal

Alex Grant
Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Eric Tangradi
Ryan Bayda
Keven Veilleux

WBS Current Record: 34-29-2-3 (73 points; fourth in East Division)

Scoreboard Watch: WBS is one point behind Norfolk for the third and final guaranteed playoff spot in the East Division. They are tied with Bridgeport for the fourth playoff spot in the divisional playoffs, but have two more wins (34 for WBS vs. 32 for Bridgeport). With that in mind, the Penguins would clinch the final spot if the playoffs were to start tomorrow.

Matchups to Watch: Norfolk vs. Adirondack (7:15 p.m. on Friday) and Bridgeport at Syracuse (7:30 p.m. on Friday)

News and Notes:
Chris Conner was presented with the Booster Club Player of the Month award for February prior to the game.

Norfolk forward and tough guy Mitch Fritz received a two game suspension for his actions during last night’s game. Fritz received a game misconduct at the end of the second period and made obscene gestures to the crowd while being escorted off the ice. According to AHL rules, that is an automatic two game suspension.

Next Matchup:
Who: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. Springfield Falcons
When: Friday, March 19 at 7:05 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

Last Meeting:
Chris Conner scored two power play goals in the first period, but Chad Wiseman has a four goal game to lead the Falcons to a 6-3 win back on January 17. Dustin Jeffrey had a shorthanded goal at 12:43 of the third period. Adam Berkhoel took a disappointing loss with 33 saves on 38 shots.

About the Falcons:

NHL Affiliate: Edmonton Oilers
ECHL Affiliate: Stockton Thunder

Key Statistics/Rank in AHL:
Record: 23-34-9-3 (58 points; eighth in Atlantic Division)
Power Play Away: 15% (18th)
Power Play Overall: 18% (15th)
Penalty Kill Away: 81% (16th)
Penalty Kill Overall: 79.7% (27th)

Goals For/Against: 175/250

Last Game: 5-4 shootout win against Portland last Sunday. The Falcons won their second straight shootout after defeating Hershey by the same score the night before. Rob Hisey led Springfield with three points (2+1) and a +2 rating. A goal from Chad Wiseman in the shootout was all the Falcons needed to take the game; as all five Pirates failed to score on Jean-Philippe Levasseur.

Ali’s Analysis:
The Penguins may have a playoff spot now, but there is still a lot of work to be done; as their grasp on the fourth spot can easily be lost. The Falcons may be one of the AHL’s weakest teams, but the Penguins should remember what happened in the last game and come out ready to prove they are stronger both on the ice and on paper. The power play should be treated as a necessity to win this game; and another strong goaltending performance from either Brad Thiessen or John Curry should secure two more points.

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