WILKES-BARRE, PA–This was the type of game Clark Donatelli and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were waiting for. It all seemed to come together. Guys were selling out and blocking shots, and Daniel Sprong took over at times with his play.
Sprong picked up the hat trick and added an assist, Teddy Blueger had two assists, and Anthony Peters made 27 saves in his second stint with the club to lead the Penguins to a 5-1 victory on Friday night.
Reversing a recent trend of playing from behind early, the Penguins got on the board first. Sprong deflected a Jeff Taylor at the point. Cutting through the slot, Colin Smith deflected the shot past Marek Mazanec at 9:27. The secondary assist was Taylor’s first career point in the American Hockey League.
Just when it looked like the Penguins might end the period with the lead, Joe Whitney took a diagonal cross-ice pass from Neal Pionk and beat Peters with a wrister from the bottom of the left circle at 19:02. Shots in the period favored the Wolf Pack, 8-7.
Things got rough early in the second. Hartford’s Scott Kosmachuk took down Jarrett Burton along the boards, and Patrick McGrath basically forced Kosmachuk to answer for his actions. Unfortunately for the Penguins, it negated a power play from the original hit on Burton.
The fight was a boost to the bench, and the start of Sprong’s great night, ass he gave them the lead minutes later.
The Wolf Pack’s Anthony DeAngelo fumbled a puck on the boards, and it came to Greg McKegg. McKegg found Adam Johnson and Johnson dropped the puck to Sprong, who found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the season at 8:30.
Sprong wasn’t done, however, as he scored again just 7:14 later. It was an identical shot from nearly the exact same spot as his first goal. Jarred Tinordi was given a secondary assist.
The Penguins have been known to sit back when they get a lead. That was not the case on Friday. They kept the pressure up in the third, peppering Mazanec from all angles. At 14:26 of the frame, Zach Aston-Reese caught the Hartford Power play napping, and made them pay for it.
Seven seconds after Gage Quinney went off for a trip, Aston-Reese took a faceoff win from Blueger and raced in on a breakaway, beating Mazanec five-hole for his fourth tally of the campaign. Sprong finished his hat-trick bid with an empty-netter from center ice with 1:55 remaining, his second such performance of the season. The three goals left him trailing only Charlotte’s Valentin Zykov, (19) for the league lead in that statistic.
Notes: On Sunday Morning, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton announced that they had recalled Forwards Cody Wydo and Reid Gardiner from Wheeling of the ECHL. Wydo was leading the team in points with 31, while Gardiner was second on the team in goals with 14. Also, the Pittsburgh Penguins had announced they had recalled Sprong and returned Dominik Simon to the AHL.
3 Stars: 3) WBS-Adam Johnson (Two Assists)
2) WBS-Anthony Peters (27 Saves)
1) WBS-Daniel Sprong (Three Goals, Assist)
Up Next: The Penguins travel down the turnpike to face the Hershey Bears Saturday at 7 P.M.