WILKES-BARRE, PA–Things are rounding into form for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. After a stretch that saw them drop ten of 14 decisions, the Penguins have now won four straight. As an added bonus, all of those games have come against their Atlantic Division rivals.
On Friday, it was the Springfield Thunderbirds who became their latest victim. Adam Johnson had a goal and an assist, Ryan Haggerty had the game-winner in the third, and Casey DeSmith made 22 saves in a 4-2 victory.
The first period looked more like a ping-pong match, with neither team holding possession or getting many shots. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had an early power play, but couldn’t convert. They had a great chance to open the scoring with 9:32 left, but Zach Aston-Reese couldn’t beat Samuel Montembeault from the right circle. Shots in the period were eight to five in favor of the Penguins.
It did not take the Penguins long to get on the scoreboard in the second. Less than a minute after killing an Andrey Pedan hooking penalty, Greg McKegg slammed home the rebound of a Chris Summers point shot. It was McKegg’s fourth of the campaign.
Late in the period, Springfield nearly tied it by the closest of margins. A Curtis Valk shot got through DeSmith, it was crossing the goal line when Jarred Tinordi dove in and swept the puck off the goal line.
The third period saw the Thunderbirds tie it up just 1:03 in, when Mark Fayne got his first of the season burying the rebound of a Dryden Hunt shot. 2:59 later, the Penguins would take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After an odd-man rush by Springfield, the Penguins got one of their own. Garrett Wilson found Olympic hopeful Christian Thomas with a cross-ice pass and Thomas’ shot found the top right corner of the net.
Haggerty pushed the lead to two four minutes later, and it was a good thing for the Penguins. 21 seconds after the Haggerty goal, Hunt finished off a Jayce Hawryluk centering feed, cutting the lead back to one. However, Johnson’s empty-netter with one second remaining in regulation would ensure two points and send the fans home happy.
Three Stars of the Game
3) WBS – Greg McKegg (Goal)
2) WBS – Christian Thomas (Goal)
1) WBS – Ryan Haggerty (Goal)
Up Next: The Penguins host the Belleville Senators Saturday at 7:05.