PENGUINS FALL SHORT TO CHECKERS IN ELIMINATION GAME

 

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins saw their 2018 Calder Cup Playoff run come to an end with a 7-3 loss in Game Three to the Charlotte Checkers at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Thursday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored the game’s first two goals, including the first of Anthony Angello’s professional career, but their opening push was not enough as Charlotte came back with five consecutive tallies to earn enough separation to win the series, 3-0.

The Penguins got things going early as Angello collected a rebound five minutes into the opening frame. Niclas Almari, making his Calder Cup Playoffs debut, earned the secondary assist on Angello’s first pro goal.

Angello’s line combined to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 2-0 lead at 7:29 of the first period. Teddy Blueger delivered a pass to Zach Trotman, whose booming slap shot was tipped in by Adam Johnson.

The Penguins were firmly in control of the contest until the Checkers turned the tide late in the opening period. First, Lucas Wallmark found the back of the net behind a screened Tristan Jarry at 16:41 of the first period, and Greg McKegg converted on a breakaway 21 seconds later. Suddenly, the game was tied, 2-2.

The second period produced scoring chance after scoring chance for both sides, but no goals until the Checkers got a favorable bounce late. Aleksi Saarela threw the puck into the slot crease, where it deflected off a Penguin’s stick, then his skate and into the net. The pinballing puck granted Charlotte a 3-2 lead with 2:14 left before the second intermission.

Charlotte poured on the offense in the final frame, scoring two goals in as many minutes as Clark Bishop and Andrew Miller both capitalized to extend the Checkers’ lead to 5-2.

Angello scored his second goal of the game when he stole the puck from Alex Nedeljkovic and snuck it past the goaltender, giving the Penguins life at 13:31 of the third period.  However, the Checkers tacked on two empty netters to end any hopes of a comeback and bring the game to its final score, 7-3.

Jarry made 25 saves on the night while Nedeljkovic stopped 26 shots thrown his way.

The Penguins finished the regular season 45-22-6-3, good enough for second place in the Atlantic Division and the fifth-best record in the American Hockey League. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs for the 16th season in a row, the longest active streak in the AHL.

PENGUINS SCORE EARLY, BUT LOSE GAME TWO AT CHARLOTTE, 4-1

 

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins scored 22 seconds into Game Two of their Atlantic Division Semifinals series against the Charlotte Checkers, but the Checkers bounced back to win 4-1 at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Saturday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finds itself in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-five series as it takes the series home to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the final three potential games of the Atlantic Division Semifinals.

The Penguins started the game on the right foot, scoring on the first shift of the contest. Andrey Pedan’s point shot was stopped by Alex Nedeljkovic, but the goaltender couldn’t locate the rebound before Joseph Cramarossa slammed it into the back of the net. Cramarossa’s tally 22 seconds in was the second-fastest goal to start a game in Penguins playoff history.

Charlotte eventually countered at 13:47 of the first period with a strange bounce that fooled Tristan Jarry. Defenseman Haydn Fleury gathered a puck behind the goal line and tried to throw it into the slot, but it ricocheted off of the bend at the back of Jarry’s knee and in, tying the game at one goal apiece.

Warren Foegele had a chance to give the Checkers their first lead of the game when he took off on a shorthanded breakaway midway through the second period, but Jarry came up with a huge denial.

The Checkers did eventually take the lead when a seeing-eye shot from Josiah Didier navigated through a line of players and into the Penguins’ net with only 5:42 left in the third period.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has handed a power play with 3:28 remaining in regulation, but couldn’t generate any shots on Nedeljkovic. Right as the man advantage expired, the Penguins pulled Jarry for an extra attacker, but the Checkers scored on the empty net shortly thereafter. Empty net goals by Clark Bishop and Fleury separated by 14 seconds gave Charlotte a 4-1 lead and a 2-0 advantage in the series.

Jarry finished the night with 24 saves, while Nedeljkovic posted 27 stops for the win.

The series returns to the Penguins’ home ice for Game 3 on Thursday, Apr. 26. Ticket packages and individual game tickets for the 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.

PENGUINS LOSE GAME ONE TO CHECKERS IN OVERTIME, 3-2

 

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins dropped Game One of the Atlantic Division Semifinals to the Charlotte Checkers in overtime at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Friday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had a 2-0 lead going into the third period, but Charlotte scored twice to tie and then got an early, albeit controversial goal from Lucas Wallmark in the extra period to win, 3-2.

The Checkers had the Penguins pinned back in their zone for well over a minute when Brenden Kitchton’s point shot was tipped in by Wallmark. As a throng of bodies congregated around Tristan Jarry, contact was made with the Penguins goalie that sent him tumbling down to the ice at the same time as Wallmark’s tip. Jarry and his teammates protested the call, clamoring for goaltender interference, but the initial assessment on the ice stood, and Charlotte got the game-winner at 3:18 of overtime.

The game started with a first period marred by penalties. The two clubs combining for six man advantage opportunities over the course of the opening 20 minutes of play, but the Penguins were the only team to capitalize on the power play. Andrey Pedan’s slap shot from the point blistered past a screen set by Garrett Wilson at the front of the net and into Charlotte’s cage with 2:16 left in the first period.

Charlotte came out firing on all cylinders to start the second stanza, but its efforts were stonewalled by Jarry. Following up some highlight reel stops from the first period, Jarry denied the Checkers with a handful of post-to-post saves early in the middle frame.

The tide turned in the Penguins’ favor when Checkers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic allowed a goal from center ice midway through the second period. Daniel Sprong flung the puck towards the Checkers’ cage, and with one dramatic hop, the puck skipped over the glove of Nedeljkovic and into the net, giving the Penguins a 2-0 lead.

The Checkers began an early onslaught of shots in the third period, and Aleksi Saarela finally solved Jarry with a sniper’s shot 6:32 into the final frame of regulation. Valentin Zykov tacked on a power play goal on Charlotte’s sixth man advantage of the game at 11:45 of the third period, tying the contest, 2-2.

The Penguins finished the third period with a flourish, peppering Nedeljkovic with shots. The second-year pro goaltender stood tall in the face of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s avalanche, and made enough saves to send the game to overtime.

Wallmark’s game-winner 3:18 onto the extra period established a 1-0 series lead for the Checkers in the best-of-five opening round series. Jarry finished the game with 35 saves, and Nedeljkovic posted 25 stops. Game Two takes place tomorrow night, Saturday, Apr. 21, at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The series will return to the Penguins’ home ice for Game 3 on Thursday, Apr. 26.

Ticket packages and individual game tickets for the 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.

 

PENGUINS BEAT BEARS IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE, 3-2

 

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HERSHEY, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins ended the 2017-18 season on a high note, defeating the Hershey Bears, 3-2, at Giant Center on Sunday evening.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ends the season with a 45-22-6-3 record worth 99 points, and it also concludes the 2017-18 campaign on an eight-game win streak against its bitter rival from Hershey.

Daniel Sprong kicked off the scoring for the Penguins on the power play at 10:32 of the opening period. Sprong notched his team-leading 11th man advantage marker and 32nd goal overall this season, which also pulled him into a tie for the second-most tallies in the AHL.

As time was ticking down in the first period, Jarrett Burton shot the puck off the post and in with 18.1 seconds left in the frame to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 2-0 lead. Making his AHL debut, Jan Drozg recorded his first pro point with the secondary assist on Burton’s goal.

The second period was largely uneventful until Dustin Gazley buried one for the Bears 32 seconds before the intermission.

Gage Quinney re-established the Penguins’ two-goal lead by smacking in a rebound at 6:15 of the third period. Kevin Schulze picked off a breakout pass in the Bears’ zone, tapped it over to Sprong who was denied by Vítek Vaněček, but Quinney was in the perfect spot for the loose puck. Schulze gathered his first AHL point with the assist on the play.

Desperate to try and tie the game in front of their home fans in the season finale, the Bears pulled Vaněček for an extra attacker while they were on the power play with 4:20 left in the game. The gamble paid off as Jeremy Langlois found the back of the net during the six-on-four man advantage, making it a 3-2 contest.

Hershey pulled Vaněček again in hopes of getting another extra attacker goal, but never challenged Anthony Peters again before the sound of the final buzzer.

The Penguins wrap up the season 10-0-1-1 against the Bears, the best single-season record in the 19-year history of the I-81 Rivalry.

Both goalies were billed with 27 saves.

Next up for Penguins is the first round of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. They will face-off against the Charlotte Checkers in a best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinal series, starting with Game 1 at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Friday, Apr. 20.

Ticket packages and individual game tickets for the 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.

PENGUINS LOSE CLOSE BATTLE WITH PHANTOMS IN SHOOTOUT, 2-1

 

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Both the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms traded goals in the last two minutes of regulation, but the Phantoms came out on top in a shootout, 2-1, on Saturday night at PPL Center.

With their point earned in the standings, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (44-22-6-3) was able to secure home ice in the first round of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Penguins will play as the No. 2 seed for the Atlantic Division in the postseason, even though their first round opponent is still to be determined.

The first period featured a strong defensive effort by both teams, keeping the game scoreless and without grade-A scoring chances for either side.

In the middle frame, the Penguins nearly doubled the Phantoms in shots. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earned a 11-6 shot advantage in the second period, but both goalies remained strong. Alex Lyon held down the fort for the Phantoms, while Michael Leighton came up with a series of solid stops for the Penguins.

The Phantoms nearly generated a breakaway opportunity midway through the second period, but defenseman Niclas Almari stepped in to neutralize the headman pass. Almari, making his AHL debut, was the last line of defense on the sequence for the Penguins, but calmly clogged up the passing lane that would have otherwise resulted in a clean chance for Lehigh Valley’s Cole Bardeau.

Leighton also helped power the Penguins to kill off a double minor penalty in the middle frame, too, making numerous key saves to keep the score even at 0-0.

The third period yielded the best scoring chances for both the Penguins and Phantoms, but time and time again, they were foiled by the opposing netminder. The game appeared poised for a scoreless regulation until Garrett Wilson cracked the goose egg for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton late in the contest. With 1:50 left in the third period, Wilson muscled a loose puck under Lyon’s pad for the game’s first goal.

However, the goal was not enough as Chris Conner came back a minute later, scoring for Lehigh Valley with the goalie pulled and extra attacker activated with 45.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

The tight defense continued through the overtime period, as each team only surrendered two shots and allowed no goals.

Nic Aubé-Kubel scored the only goal of the shootout in the fourth round, granting Lehigh Valley the victory in its last game of the season.

Leighton made 30 saves on the night and denied three Phantoms attempts in the shootout, while Lyon turned aside 26 shots in regulation and overtime and went four-for-four on saves in the shootout.

The Penguins have one more game left in the regular season. They’ll take on the Hershey Bears at Giant Center tomorrow, Sunday, Apr. 15, at 5:00 p.m. for both clubs’ regular season finale.

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.

 

SPRONG SETS FRANCHISE RECORD IN PENGUINS’ 3-2 WIN

 

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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.

FOUR-GOAL FIRST PERIOD GIVES PENGUINS 5-2 WIN AT BRIDGEPORT

 

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins exploded with offense in the first period and leaned on their goaltender in the second half of the game to secure a 5-2 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena on Sunday.

Anthony Peters recorded 41 saves for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (43-22-6-2) to ensure its opponent couldn’t stage a dramatic comeback.

For the second night in a row, the Penguins built themselves a 4-0 lead before the first intermission. Adam Johnson scored twice 1:17 apart midway through the opening frame, but the Penguins weren’t satisfied with a two-goal cushion. Christian Thomas and Patrick McGrath tacked on tallies at 12:41 and 16:03 of the first period, respectively.

Patrick McGrath redirects his second goal of the season to give the Penguins a four-goal cushion.

McGrath missed the previous 23 games for the Penguins, but in his first game back in the lineup, he drove to front of the net and tipped in a shot by Zach Trotman for his second goal of the season.

Bridgeport got on the board when John Stevens scored at 11:47 of the middle frame, but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton still had a commanding lead heading into the third period. Peters posted 16 saves in the second period with the Stevens goal being the only shot to get past him.

Gage Quinney earned a tap-in on the backdoor following a defensive zone turnover in the Sound Tigers’ zone, but roughly two minutes later, Steve Bernier cut Bridgeport’s deficit back down to three.

Peters continues to make some great saves on the Sound Tigers who hacked and whacked at any puck they could get their sticks on near the Penguins’ net. Peters’ strong play in net until the final buzzer helped the visitors maintain their lead and bring the game to a 5-2 final score.

Eamon McAdam recorded 10 saves in the first period before being replaced by Kristers Gudļevskis at the start of the second period. Gudļevskis ended up with 12 saves on 13 shots faced.

The Penguins’ next game is Friday, Apr. 13, when they trek to MassMutual Center and attempt to complete the season sweep of the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Ticket packages 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.

Individual game tickets for the postseason will go on sale on Monday, Apr. 9 at 10:00 a.m. and will be available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, TicketMaster.com, or also by calling the Penguins’ offices at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS WIN BIG IN KOSTOPOULOS’ FINAL HOME GAME

 

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – It was an emotional night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Saturday. Tom Kostopoulos was playing in his final regular season home game with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and the emotion fueled the team to a 7-4 victory over the Binghamton Devils.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (42-22-6-2) also clinched a berth in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs with Saturday’s results. This will be the Penguins’ 16th postseason appearance in a row, the American Hockey League’s active record.

Clearly running on adrenaline after pre-game ceremonies honoring Kostopoulos, the home team took a 4-0 lead in the first period starting with a power play goal 3:45 into the contest. Jean-Sébastien Dea pulled off a spinning move at the front of the net and tucked the puck around goaltender Cam Johnson, who was making the first start of his pro career. Nineteen seconds later, Tom Sestito beat Johnson down low to put the Penguins up, 2-0.

Jarrett Burton tacked on a goal by batting in his own rebound that came off the crossbar midway through the opening frame, and Zach Trotman unloaded a slap shot that navigated under Johnson with 3:24 left in the period.

Binghamton’s Jake Walman got the visitors on the board midway through the second period with a wicked wrist shot that whizzed past the blocker of Michael Leighton. Walman proceeded to set up the Devils’ next goal, too, tossing a shot towards the net that was tipped in by Blake Pietila at 18:05 of the middle frame.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton wasted no time in re-establishing their four-goal lead, using goals from Daniel Sprong and Christian Thomas in the first 5:44 of the third period. Sprong’s 30th goal of the season arrived 35 seconds into the final frame of regulation, and Thomas notched his third point of the night with the tally that made it 6-2.

However, the Devils stormed back in the second half of the third period, as tucks by Jacob MacDonald and Jan Mandát reduced the deficit to two goals once again.

Binghamton elected the pull the goalie for an extra attacker with over three minutes left in regulation. Thomas put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal to close out the scoring at 7-4, his fourth point of the game.

Leighton denied 26 Devils shots as he improved to 5-0-0 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Johnson made 29 saves in his pro debut.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Sunday, Apr. 8, when they travel to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers for the final time this season.

Ticket packages 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.

Individual game tickets for the postseason will go on sale on Monday, Apr. 9 at 10:00 a.m. and will be available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, TicketMaster.com, or also by calling the Penguins’ offices at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS DROP 4-3 CONTEST TO DESPERATE SOUND TIGERS

 

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins dropped a close matchup against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-3, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Friday night.

Daniel Sprong put forth a goal and two power play assists to keep Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (41-22-6-2) within striking distance, but a Bridgeport team fighting to keep its slim playoff hopes alive had the extra vigor to hang on when it was all said and done.

The Penguins took the lead 4:48 into the game when captain Tom Kostopoulos cashed in on the man advantage. Sprong unloaded a one-timer towards the net, which Kostopoulos tipped past goaltender Christopher Gibson.

Shortly thereafter, Bridgeport answered back with a power-play goal of its own. Mitchell Vande Sompel picked the short side corner over the shoulder of Tristan Jarry, evening the game at one goal apiece.  Then Steve Bernier gave the visitors their first lead of the night at 11:45 of the opening frame.

Vande Sompel later scored his second goal of the night, once again beating Jarry to the short side and just inside post. Vande Sompel’s first career multi-goal game put the Sound Tigers up, 3-1, just under five minutes into the second stanza.

Sprong pulled the Penguins within one again by unloading a wicked one-timer on a set face-off play. Teddy Blueger won the draw clean to Sprong who blasted the puck into the opposite top corner at 7:50 of the second period.

Sprong’s goal nearly served as a turning point in the contest, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton began peppering Gibson with shot after shot following the rookie’s team-leading 29th goal of the season. The Penguins almost doubled the Sound Tigers’ shot total in the middle frame, throwing 13 pucks at the net. Gibson held down the fort with some dazzling saves so that his squad could enter the second intermission with the one-goal lead.

Ben Holmstrom tipped in a cross-crease pass from Kyle Schempp eight minutes into the third period, extending the Sound Tigers’ lead to 4-2.

The Penguins reduced the deficit down to one yet again when Blueger tipped in one of Sprong’s shots during a power play late in the final frame. Down by one and with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton couldn’t muster the equalizer, despite two great scoring chances for Sprong.

In the end, Jarry stopped 18 shots while Gibson recorded 25 saves on the night.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Saturday, Apr. 7, against the Binghamton Devils. Saturday’s game is also Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s final home game of the regular season and will serve as the team’s annual Fan Appreciation Night. Pre-game ceremonies prior to the contest between the Penguins and Devils are scheduled to begin 7:00 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Individual tickets for the final two home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

LAFFERTY NETS FIRST PRO GOAL IN PENGUINS’ 5-3 DEFEAT OF BEARS

 

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fended off a late comeback attempt by the Hershey Bears to defeat their I-81 rival, 5-3, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Tuesday night.

Tristan Jarry backstopped Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (41-21-6-2) to victory in a game that saw Sam Lafferty score his first professional goal and the Penguins improve to 9-0-1-1 against the Bears this season. Also, with the win, the Penguins have reduced their magic number to clinch a berth in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs to one.

The Penguins wasted little time in scoring the game’s first goal as Teddy Blueger fired a spin-o-rama backhander through Pheonix Copley’s five-hole 53 seconds into the game.

Hershey tied things up at 13:41 of the opening frame when Connor Hobbs unloaded a perfectly placed one-timer underneath the cross-bar. However, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton re-established its lead exactly two minutes later. The Penguins responded when Daniel Sprong tapped the puck over to Garrett Wilson in the slot, who then beat Copley down low once again.

Midway through the second period, Lafferty ripped a snapshot past the blocker of Copley, giving the Penguins a 3-1 lead. The Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania native’s first goal as a pro caused a goaltending change for the Bears, too. Copley stepped out and was relieved by Vítek Vaněček.

The goaltending switch and two-goal deficit motivated Hershey, but the visitors couldn’t muscle anything past Jarry despite a flurry of scoring chances in the second half of the middle frame. Jarry made a series of highlight reel saves, featuring a sprawling save for which he fell on his back and reached around his head to the far post so that he could rob Colby Williams of a sure goal. Jarry’s lights-out goaltending maintained the home team’s 3-1 lead going into the second intermission.

Sprong cashed in on the power play with his AHL rookie-leading 28th goal of the season to give the Penguins a three-goal lead 4:32 into the final period.

Hershey made things interesting by using goals from Anthony Peluso and Mathias Bau three minutes apart to pull within one. The Bears were also given a power play opportunity with less than a minute to go in regulation. Their late power play only yielded an empty net goal for Jean-Sébastien Dea to round out the night’s scoring at 5-3.

Jarry made 30 saves in the win for the Penguins. Copley was replaced after denying 12 of 15 shots faced, while Vaněček stepped in to turn aside 13 of the 14 bids Wilkes-Barre/Scranton threw his way.

The Penguins’ next game is Friday, Apr. 6 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers with a chance to secure a spot in the postseason. Puck drop between the Penguins and Sound Tigers is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Individual tickets for the final two home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.