PENGUINS WEEKLY – 1/31/17

 

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has dominant January, cruises into All-Star break

Penguins (33-9-3-0) get set for a six-game home stand out of the break

 

Weekly Rewind

Wednesday, Jan. 25 – PENGUINS 3 vs. Syracuse 2

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton prevailed in a tight game thanks to David Warsofsky’s heroic overtime effort. The game-winning goal came with just 1.2 seconds left in the extra frame.

 

Friday, Jan. 27 – PENGUINS 3 at Utica 2

In their first meeting of the season, the Penguins downed the Comets, 3-2. Kevin Porter, Tom Sestito and Cameron Gaunce each recorded two assists in the contest, but Casey DeSmith stole the show with his 27 save effort in the win.

 

Saturday, Jan. 28 – PENGUINS 6 at Binghamton 2

Teddy Blueger and Dominik Simon both had three-point nights as the Penguins rolled into the All-Star break. Three points for Blueger established a new career high. Kostopoulos scored to reach his 500th AHL point.

 

Monday, Jan. 30 – AHL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE

Clark Donatelli’s Atlantic Division All-Stars surrendered only two goals in regulation over the four-game three-on-three tournament, but fell 1-0 (shootout) in the championship game to the Central Division.

 

The Week Ahead

Friday, Feb. 3 – PENGUINS vs. St. John’s

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first game after the break sees the IceCaps come to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the first time this season. The two teams split two contests on The Rock back in December.

 

Saturday, Feb. 4 – PENGUINS vs. Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley was victorious in the teams’ last game on  Jan. 20 and is 2-0-0-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season. These two beasts of the East are meeting for just the third time this season with eight more matchups to come.

 

Ice Chips

– Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ended the month of January with a 12-2-0-0 record. It was the best the Pens have ever done in Jan. and tied the club record for wins in one month (March, 2008).

– Team captain Tom Kostopoulos became the 91st player in AHL history to achieve 500 career AHL points.

– David Warsofsky’s goal on Wednesday with 1.2 seconds      left in overtime is the latest OT game-winner scored in         Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history

– Warsofsky finished fourth in the CCM Hardest Shot event at the AHL All-Star Skills Competition, unleashing a 98.4 mph slap shot.

– Tristan Jarry allowed only one goal on seven shots faced during the AHL All-Star Challenge. He had the best goals against average of the eight goalies in the tournament (0.33).

 

DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS Pt%
1. PENGUINS 45 33 9 3 0 69 .767
2. Lehigh Valley 43 29 12 2 0 60 .698
3. Providence 45 25 12 5 3 58 .644
4. Bridgeport 42 25 15 1 1 52 .619
5. Hershey 44 21 13 7 3 52 .591
6. Springfield 43 16 19 6 2 40 .465
7. Hartford 45 16 24 3 2 37 .411

 

TEAM LEADERS

SKATERS GP G A PTS
Jake Guentzel*^ 33 21 21 42
Tom Kostopoulos 45 15 18 33
Oskar Sundqvist 39 14 19 33
David Warsofsky 30 9 24 33
two players tied 26

 

GOALIES GP W-L-OT GAA SV% Shutouts
Tristan Jarry 27 19-7-1 2.21 .921 1
Casey DeSmith* 17 13-2-2 2.26 .913 0

* = rookie

^ = currently with Pittsburgh

 

UPCOMING GAME SCHEDULE

DATE                 OPPONENT     LOCATION                         TIME      

Fri, Feb. 3          St. John’s          Mohegan Sun Arena        7:05 p.m.

Sat, Feb. 4        Lehigh Valley  Mohegan Sun Arena           7:05 p.m.

Wed, Feb. 8      St. John’s          Mohegan Sun Arena         7:05 p.m.

 

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Thu, Jan. 26     (C)      Carter Rowney                      Recalled by PIT

Thu, Jan. 26     (D)      Steve Oleksy                   Reassigned to WBS

Fri, Jan. 27       (C)      Carter Rowney               Reassigned to WBS

Man, Jan. 30    (C)      Carter Rowney                      Recalled by PIT

JARRY PERFORMS LIGHTS OUT AT PPL CENTER IN ALL-STAR CHALLENGE

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – All-Star games are typically known for their comically high scores and porous defensive displays. The Atlantic Division bucked that trend at this year’s AHL All-Star Challenge in large part because of the play of its two goalies.

The Atlantic All-Stars ultimately fell in the Championship game to the central Division, 1-0 in a shootout, but the squad only allowed two goals in regulation in four contests. Only one puck got past Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.

“I think I did pretty well,” Jarry said in an understatement. “Obviously, it gets tough out there with all the two-on-ones and breakaways you can face, but it was fun to be out there with those caliber players.”

After his first stint in net saw not a single puck thrown his way, he had to contend with a two-man break for the Pacific Division in Game 2 for his first shot against. Completely unfazed, Jarry turned aside the shot just the same way he did when he went a perfect three-for-three during the Pass and Shoot portion of the Skills Competition the night before.

The 21-year-old goaltender is never the person whose nerves will get the best of him, and he showed it time and time again on Monday night at PPL Center.

“I’m not really one to get too nervous or get too pumped up,” Jarry said. “So I was just my usual self, and I played the way I regularly play.”

How does Jarry regularly play? Well, Penguins fans know that the cool-mannered netminder has been a stalwart between the pipes all season long, earning a lowly 2.21 goals against average, .921 save percentage, and a league-leading 19 win total.

Jarry’s intensity didn’t stay back in Wilkes-Barre when he packed his things for a quick All-Star break road trip.

“If you’re a goalie, you hate being scored on,” Jarry said. “You’re trying your hardest to stop every shot. That’s our approach, and that’s the way I took it tonight.

“For goalies, [All-Star games are] different, because players want to show what they can do with the puck. For us, it’s about what we can do without the puck. Can you stop the puck? I think it’s one of those things where you need to be prepared for every possibility and every shot.”

Zane McIntyre of the Providence Bruins was equally impressive in the four tournament games for the Atlantic, but was handed the loss in the championship game because he was in goal for all of the shootout attempts. That decision was inadvertently made before puck drop, when McIntyre and Jarry engaged in a game of rock, paper, scissors to determine who would start the first half of the contest.

Jarry won the quick ro-sham-bo and kicked things off as the opening goalie in the tilt, which left McIntyre duty for the final two minutes. At the end of a scoreless regulation period, McIntyre just stayed in net for the shootout.

Jarry didn’t mind watching as the game was decided, though. At that point, he was just happy for the experience.

“It was a fun game,” Jarry said. “To go to a shootout in front of a sold out crowd, obviously that’s fun. You want to win, but it was cool to be a part of this.”

WARSOFSKY IMPRESSES IN HARDEST SHOT COMPETITION

 

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – David Warsofsky stepped up to the blue line in preparation of his showcase event at the 2017 AHL All-Star Skills Competition, the CCM Hardest Shot. After a few strides used to reach a stationary puck, Warsofsky unloaded a slap shot at the empty net with radar guns positioned nearby.

He went through those same motions again for a second attempt. He uncorked another slapper, drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd at PPL Center before his score registered on the big screen at center ice. When the result came in, it showed 98.4 mph.

Warsofsky’s slap shot was the second-strongest in the competition at the time, and ultimately finished fourth overall but just nine-tenths of a mile per hour behind the event’s winning score.

At all levels, the hardest shot event is usually dominated by the biggest players on the ice. The likes of Zdeno Chára and Shea Weber have legendary reputations for their record-setting slap shots, and Kyle Wood, tonight’s winner, was the biggest entrant in the competition. Warsofsky, on the other hand, impressed everyone with his score because he stands at five-foot-nine, 170 lbs.

Warsofsky’s showing at the Skills Competition and throughout this entire season has proven it’s not always the biggest guys that pack the biggest punch on their shots. It’s all about the technique.

“I think it’s just the way he releases it,” said Warsofsky’s partner at the Skills Competition, Tristan Jarry. “He’s a smart player, and he’s figured out how to get everything out of his shot even though he’s not that big. We’ve seen it many times this year, and he’s helped us out a lot with that shot.”

Warsofsky’s head coach – with both the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and All Star weekend with the Atlantic Division – Clark Donatelli, offered his explanation for why the small-statured Warsofsky is able to get so much power on his shots by drawing comparisons to another sport.

“You know, it’s like that same thing with the bat speed and hitters in baseball,” Donatelli said. “It’s about the way you hit it. He’s got a great shot, and we all know it. Obviously, it’s less about how big and strong you are. It’s about where you make contact and how you transfer your weight. Bigger guys have an advantage in that they have more weight to move, but in [Warsofsky]’s case, it’s all about the technique and putting it all together for a great shot.”

That shot has helped Warsofsky add nine goals to his All-Star caliber résumé that includes 33 points in 30 games this season. Even if that stat line wasn’t convincing enough for opponents, he now has 98.4 reasons making sure no one will be underestimating this “little guy’s” big abilities any time soon.

 

NOTES

• Tristan Jarry had a good night, himself. He stopped five of 10 shots faced in the hellacious AHL Live Rapid Fire event, then improved to a perfect three-for-three in the Pass and Score. The Pass and Score featured three Western Conference opponents coming in on Jarry with one puck and no defenders in the way. It was perhaps the most impressive showing of all the eight goalies who took part in the event.

“It’s no fun to get scored on, so it’s always a competition,” Jarry said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t think too much and just follow the puck, read the play. We practice that a lot, actually. We do a lot of three-on-oh’s and five-on-oh’s, so the guys actually had me really prepared for that.”

• Unsurprisingly, the Penguins’ All-Stars were booed heavily when announced at PPL Center, home of the rival Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Jarry couldn’t contain his smile when the crowd erupted with displeasure at the mention of his name. Clark Donatelli held his composure a bit better when the cameras cam his way, but said afterwards that that kind of hostility is part of what makes these events enjoyable.

“They’re rivals! They can’t take a night off to like us,” Donatelli said. “I think that makes it more fun, though. The rivalries in Pennsylvania, they’re good for the fans. And when the fans are into it, it’s more fun for the guys on the ice, too.”

 

GUENTZEL, JARRY JOIN DONATELLI AT AHL ALL-STAR CLASSIC

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The American Hockey League announced today that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins players Jake Guentzel and Tristan Jarry have been named to the Atlantic Division All-Star Team for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross.

Guentzel and Jarry join head coach Clark Donatelli, who was announced as coach of the Atlantic Division for the All-Star Classic earlier this week, as Penguins representatives headed to PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. for All-Star festivities on Jan. 29-30.

Full rosters for the All-Star Classic were determined by committees of AHL coaches, and all 30 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star (see the league release here).

Guentzel currently leads the entire AHL in goals (18) and stands ahead of all rookies in points (34). After a five-game stint in the NHL with Pittsburgh during which he nabbed four points (3G, 1A), the 22-year-old was named CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month for December. During that time he racked up 11 goals and six assists for 17 points in just 10 games.

Guentzel is one of 13 rookie players selected to AHL All-Star rosters.

Tristan Jarry has stood out in his second season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, taking over the starting role in net an earning a .921 save percentage and 2.14 goals against average. Jarry is currently tied for most wins in the league with 14 victories through 20 games played.

Jarry has played in 53 career AHL games, compiling a record of 31-18-4 with six shutouts. The Delta, B.C. native appeared in two preseason games with Pittsburgh this year, in which he turned away 54 shots in back-to-back shutouts.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 6, when they face-off against the Hershey Bears at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Friday night’s contest is also an Eyewitness News Fan Friday, with $14 lower bowl tickets, select draft beers for just $2 from 6:00-7:30 p.m., and a post-game autograph session with Ethan Prow and Stuart Percy.

Individual game tickets for Friday night’s game 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.

PLAYING ROSTERS ANNOUNCED FOR 2017 AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE ALL-STAR CLASSIC PRESENTED BY CAPITAL BLUECROSS

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today the playing rosters for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held January 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Each of the AHL’s four divisions will be represented by 12 players. Rosters (click here to view rosters) were determined by committees of AHL coaches, and all 30 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star.

The 2017 rosters feature 37 first-time AHL All-Stars, 12 rookies and seven former first-round draft choices. In addition, 27 of the All-Stars named have been recalled to the National Hockey League already this season, including standouts Jake Guentzel of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh), Zane McIntyre of the Providence Bruins (Boston), Juuse Saros of the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville) and Brendan Perlini of the Tucson Roadruners (Arizona).

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli, Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Todd Nelson and Ontario Reign head coach Mike Stothers will serve as coaches for the event.

The 2017 AHL All-Star Skills Competition presented by Giant Food Stores and Velaspan on Jan. 29 (7:30 p.m. ET) will pit the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions against those from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.

In the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 30 (7 p.m. ET), the four teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.

Starting at just $26 each, single-event tickets are now on sale for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, featuring the AHL All-Star Skills Competition presented by Giant Food Stores and Velaspan and the AHL All-Star Challenge. To purchase event tickets, please visit phantomshockey.com, call 610-347-TIXX or visit the PPL Center box office. The 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross will be preceded by a Phan Fest on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by a Tailgate Party beginning at 6 p.m. Both events will take place at the PPL Center and tickets for both the Phan Fest ($5) and Tailgate Party ($10) are also available now at phantomshockey.com.

The 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: since 1995, more than 93 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Jake Allen, Artem Anisimov, Patrice Bergeron, Ben Bishop, Troy Brouwer, Ryan Callahan,

Zdeno Chara, Logan Couture, Braden Holtby, Tyler Johnson, Martin Jones, Chris Kunitz, Zach Parise, Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Bobby Ryan, Cory Schneider, Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza, P.K. Subban and Mats Zuccarello, as well as former Lehigh Valley Phantoms representatives Nick Cousins, Brandon Manning and Anthony Stolarz.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, trainers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of NHL players last season were AHL graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers. In 2015-16, over 7.1 million fans attended AHL regular-season and playoff games across North America, the highest total attendance in league history.

DONATELLI NAMED HEAD COACH FOR AHL ALL-STAR CLASSIC

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Clark Donatelli of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Benoit Groulx of the Syracuse Crunch, Todd Nelson of the Grand Rapids Griffins and Mike Stothers of the Ontario Reign have clinched the honor of coaching at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held January 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

The Penguins, Crunch, Griffins and Reign all owned the best record in their respective divisions as of the pre-determined deadline: the end of play on Dec. 31.

The AHL’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s four divisions, for the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 30. The teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.

The 2017 AHL All-Star Skills Competition presented by Giant Food Stores and Velaspan on Jan. 29 will pit the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions against those from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.

Clark Donatelli will coach the Atlantic Division All-Star team after guiding Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to the best record in the AHL over the first three months of the season. Donatelli, who was named head coach of the Penguins on Dec. 22, 2015, following Mike Sullivan’s promotion to Pittsburgh, has led Wilkes-Barre to a 21-7-3-0 mark (.726) this year and is overseeing the league’s top-ranked defense (2.26 goals against per game) and second-best penalty kill (86.4 percent).

Donatelli joins a long list of Penguins coaches to participate in the AHL All-Star festivities.  Joe Mullen guided the PlanetUSA All-Stars at the 2006 game in Winnipeg (along with Penguins assistant coach Al Sims); Todd Richards (assisted by Dan Bylsma) handled head coaching duties with PlanetUSA at the 2007 game in Toronto; John Hynes co-coached the West All-Stars at the 2011 contest in Hershey; and Jay Leach represented the Penguins at the 2016 game in Syracuse.

Benoit Groulx will coach the North Division team as the Crunch currently own a record of 18-9-0-4 (.645). In his first campaign with the Crunch, Groulx has successfully juggled a roster that has already seen 13 different players recalled by the parent Tampa Bay Lightning this season.

Todd Nelson has Grand Rapids in first place with a mark of 20-8-1-2 (.694) and will guide the Central Division All-Stars. Nelson, in his second season with the Griffins and seventh as an AHL head coach, previously coached in the AHL All-Star Classic in 2012 and won Calder Cups as an assistant with the Chicago Wolves in 2008 and as a player with the Portland Pirates in 1994.

Mike Stothers will make his unprecedented third consecutive appearance and fifth overall behind an All-Star bench, guiding the Pacific Division team thanks to a 17-6-5-0 record (.696) with the Ontario Reign. A Calder Cup champion as a player, assistant coach and head coach in his career, Stothers was an assistant coach at the 1998 and 1999 All-Star events before serving as a head coach in 2015 and 2016.

Playing rosters for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross will be announced later this week.

Starting at just $67, tickets for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross are on sale now and include admission to Saturday’s Phan Fest & Tailgate Party, Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition and Monday’s AHL All-Star Challenge. To purchase event tickets, please visit www.phantomshockey.com owww.pplcenter.com.

The 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: since 1995, more than 93 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Jake AllenArtem AnisimovPatrice BergeronBen BishopTroy BrouwerRyan CallahanZdeno CharaLogan CoutureBraden HoltbyTyler JohnsonMartin JonesChris KunitzZach PariseTuukka RaskPekka RinneBobby RyanCory SchneiderPatrick SharpJason SpezzaP.K. Subban and Mats Zuccarello, as well as former Lehigh Valley Phantoms representatives Nick CousinsBrandon Manning and Anthony Stolarz.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, trainers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of NHL players last season were AHL graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers. In 2015-16, over 7.1 million fans attended AHL regular-season and playoff games across North America, the highest total attendance in league history.