BERKHOEL’S SHUTOUT STREAK STANDS AT THREE GAMES AFTER WEDNESDAY NIGHT WIN
WILKES-BARRE, PA – Adam Berkhoel is only nine games into his Penguins career, but has already written himself into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton record books.
Berkheol became the first Penguins netminder to record three consecutive shutouts as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posted a 3-0 win against the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza. The victory upped the Pens record to 9-6-0-1 on the season, while Syracuse suffered just its fourth loss of the year, dropping to 12-4-0-1.
"I’ve been pretty fortunate. I’ve never had this happen before," said Berkhoel, who entered the season with just one AHL shutout to his credit. "Guys are keeping pucks to the outside and I’m seeing everything. Everything’s hitting me. So it’s just fortunate we’re getting wins and shutting them out when we’re doing it. It feels good.
"Right now I’ve got luck on my side. I don’t know what I did to deserve it. But first and foremost, get the win, and it’s a luxury to get a shutout along with it."
The shutout was also the fourth in Berkhoel’s last five starts, during which time he has stopped 155 of 158 shots (.981 save percentage), and posted a 0.60 goals against average.
“I played four years with him in college, so I kind of knew what kind of goalie he was,” said Connor James, who suited up alongside Berkhoel at the University of Denver, winning an NCAA title in 2004. “When he signed here, I was really happy, because I knew that he could win us games. He’s been playing great the last couple of games, I think people are really starting to notice how good he is.”
James hasn’t been playing too poorly, either. About 21 minutes after Ryan Stone opened the scoring at the start of the second period, James jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone, then skated in alone against Dan LaCosta for his league-leading third shorthanded tally of the season.
“It hit my skate and bounced forward. I was going in and I kind of changed my mind at the very last second,” said James. “Maybe that messed with the goalie, because I didn’t know where I was going, so hopefully he didn’t either. It squeezed in and I was definitely happy to get it."
Ryan Stone opened the scoring three minutes into the second frame, taking a pretty feed from Luca Caputi from across the crease for his fifth of the season. That came just a few minutes after Stone had to leave the ice after going face first into the end boards during a race for a loose puck.
“He’s tough and he can play a couple different styles of game; he’s a power forward and he can go to the net and get goals, he can also bang and hammer guys on the forecheck,” said head coach Dan Bylsma. “But he can also make plays under pressure. He went down into the boards there…He bounces right back and plays a real strong game, and that’s what he can do.”
Dustin Jeffrey had a golden opportunity to stretch the Penguins lead midway through the game, but failed to convert on a penalty shot. That miss put the Pens all-time success rate to a lowly 0.059 percent (1 for 17).
But James’ goal gave the Pens a little cushion, and Dave Gove was awarded an empty net score with two seconds remaining, after being hooked by Clay Wilson en route to the open cage.
“That was a full team effort. Every player in the lineup did a lot of good things, and Adam was there to back them up when they did have quality scoring chances,” said Bylsma. “Right now he’s a big part of why we’re winning. When you keep it at zero, it’s pretty easy to win.”