SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins held on to secure two important points in the standings with a 3-2 triumph against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Friday night at MassMutual Center.
Daniel Sprong established a new franchise record for goals by a rookie with his 31st tally of the season that helped kick-start the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (44-22-6-2) offense.
Sprong set the Penguins’ rookie record when he opened the game’s scoring at 15:50 of the first period. Garrett Wilson slipped behind the Thunderbirds’ net and wrapped a behind-the-back pass to Sprong at the net-front, who beat Springfield goalie Harri Säteri glove-side.
If not for the strong play of Säteri, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would have built an even bigger lead before the end of the first period. The Penguins out-shot the Thunderbirds, 19-7, in the opening frame, but only carried a 1-0 advantage into the first intermission.
Teddy Blueger solved Säteri for the second time of the night when he ripped a wrist shot from the high slot four minutes into the second period. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton proceeded to pepper the Finnish netminder with shot after shot. Säteri earned his 30th save of the night with 12:12 still to play in the middle frame.
Säteri was finally given some run support by the team playing in front of him when Dryden Hunt scored on the power play at 13:40 of the second stanza.
Springfield then had two separate five-on-three man advantages late in the period with a chance to tie the game, but that’s when Tristan Jarry answered Säteri’s performance at the other side of the ice and shut the door on the Thunderbirds for the Penguins to maintain their 2-1 lead.
Three minutes into the third period, Curtis Valk tipped in a shot by Hunt and tied the game, 2-2.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hopped back on top, 3-2, right after the expiration of a penalty kill. Ryan Haggerty had just been relinquished from the penalty box to see Zach Trotman unload a screaming slap shot past Säteri at 11:33 of the final frame of regulation.
The Thunderbirds pulled the goalie late for an extra attacker, but never truly tested Jarry in the final minute so the Penguins walked away with the win and the season sweep of Springfield (4-0-0-0).
Jarry made 28 saves for the victory, while Säteri made 46 stops in loss.
The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Saturday, Apr. 14, when they face a familiar foe in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s penultimate contest of the regular season.
Ticket packages and individual game tickets for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs are now on sale. With the purchase of a postseason ticket package, fans will receive a $6 food/merchandise voucher for every game played in the playoffs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans can secure their seats for every game on the Cup run by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.