The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have been one of the hottest teams in the American Hockey League over the past three weeks, posting eight straight wins and moving back to the top of the Atlantic Division standings.
One of the catalysts of the recently resurgent Penguins’ play has been rookie forward Zach Aston-Reese.
During that same group of games, Aston-Reese has come alive, posting 10 points (3+7) and finding the scoresheet in seven of the eight contests.
It’s been a nice stretch for the youngster, who didn’t record his first point until the sixth game of the season.
“I think the biggest thing is just being consistent in every game,” he said. “It’s good to struggle early on because that’s where you learn the lessons.”
But the former NCAA scoring champ spreads out the credit for his recent success as deftly as he dishes the puck to his teammates.
“Things are clicking,” said Aston-Reese, who has been skating alongside Jean-Sebastien Dea and Ryan Haggerty for much of the season.
Dea was on pace for a career-year, with 23 points (9+14) in 36 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before being recalled by Pittsburgh this week.
And Haggerty has been terrorizing the opposition, netting a single-season best 16 goals in just 27 games this season.
“I just give him the puck and he skates down and puts it in,” laughed Aston-Rees. “So it’s been nice.”
Now sitting in third place on the team’s scoring list with 24 points, Aston-Reese has seen additional ice time with Pittsburgh recalling forwards Daniel Sprong and Dominik Simon in recent weeks.
“I think more so with special teams. On the penalty kill, that’s where you get your legs going. You get more looks on the power play,” he said. “It definitely opens up more ice.”
Some other quick ZAR notes:
After Wednesday night’s three-point effort (2+1) against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Aston-Reese has now recorded three three-point games this season.
He is tied with linemate Ryan Haggerty for the team lead with a plus-19 rating.
Aston-Reese is tied for 14th among rookie scorers with 24 points and tied for fifth among rookies with 18 assists
Aston-Reese isn’t the only Penguins skater to sting together some nice stats over the past several weeks.
Haggerty has points in seven straight games dating back to December 30, with five goals and seven assists to his credit.
Christian Thomas has points in five straight contests (5+2=7), and has recorded the game-winning goal in three of the past four Wilkes-Barre/Scranton victories.
Goaltender Anthony Peters is a perfect 6-0-0 since signing his second tryout contract with the team, allowing just 10 goals in those contests.