WESTERN NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ seven-game road trip rolls into western New York this weekend, with the league leaders set to take on a pair of North Division foes three times in a four-day span.

The action gets underway Friday night, when the Penguins (26-7-3-0, 55 points, first in Atlantic Division) face off with the Rochester Americans (16-20-0-1, 33 points, sixth in North Division) at 7:05pm.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posted a 4-1 win over the Amerks back on December 16 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.  Lukas Bengtsson notched his first AHL goal in that contest and added an assist; Jake Guentzel and David Warsofsky both matched Bengtsson’s point output; and Casey DeSmith stopped 27 shots for the victory.

The Americans, 2-2-0-0 since the start of the new year, are led by left wing Cole Schneider, whose 36 points puts him third in the league behind the Penguins’ Jake Guentzel (39 points) and Chicago Wolves winger Kenny Agostino (50 points).  Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Cal O’Reilly (7+26=33), also ranks in the top-10 in league scoring with the Americans.

This is the final meeting between the two teams this regular season.

Following Friday night’s contest, the Penguins travel 90 minutes east to Syracuse, where they’ll face off with the Crunch (18-9-2-5, 43 points, first in North Division) in games on Saturday night and Monday afternoon.

The Crunch enter a Friday night contest with the Toronto Marlies riding a six-game point streak, but only two of those six contests have been wins (2-0-2-2 in that time).   Syracuse has a league-high five shootout losses this season.

Matt Taormina paces Syracuse with 33 points (10+23) in 29 games, and ranks tied for sixth in the league in points.  Adam Wilcox has 13 wins in 20 appearances for the Crunch, placing him in a tie for sixth place in the AHL as well.

The Penguins and Crunch have met twice already this season, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton winning both contests on home ice.  Kevin Porter netted a pair of shorthanded goals in a 3-1 win  on October 22, then picked up two more goals in a 6-1 drubbing on October 30.  Porter claimed the game-winning goal in both contests.

After this set of games, the Pens and Crunch will meet two more times – January 25 in Wilkes-Barre and March 24 in Syracuse.

WBS BITS (all stats/streaks/standings are as of January 12, 2017) 

Tom Sestito has four goals in his past four appearances with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and has posted six points in that stretch of games dating back to January 6.

Derrick Pouliot has seven points (1+6) in his past five games after going without a point in his first nine games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.

Jake Guentzel picked up his 20th goal in his 31st game of the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday night.

Tristan Jarry is tied for second in the league with 15 wins, one behind Lehigh Valley’s Alex Lyon.  Harry’s 2.09 goals against average is fifth overall, and his .923 save percentage is eighth.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 13, against the Rochester Americans. The Penguins’ next home showing is Saturday, Jan. 21, and their opponent will be the Hershey Bears.

Individual game tickets for the game on Jan. 21 and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 22-game12-game, and 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.