GUENTZEL’S FOUR POINTS POWER PENS PAST BRIDGEPORT, 7-1

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were catapulted to a huge victory on Saturday night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers thanks to an explosive first period and four-point performance by rookie Jake Guentzel.

The Penguins (7-1-1-0, first in the Atlantic Division) erupted for four goals in the first period alone, their highest total in one period so far in 2016-17, lifting them to a 7-1 rout of the Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena.

Just 1:02 into the game, Tom Kostopoulos forced a turnover and fed Guentzel in front of the Sound Tigers’ net for the first goal of the contest.

Reid Gardiner scooped up a rebound at 4:40 of the first period and popped it into the top corner for a 2-0 Penguins lead. Gardiner’s tally was also his first professional goal.

Bridgeport responded with Devon Toews burying a rebound goal of his own, cutting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lead in half at 7:51 of the opening frame.

Guentzel returned the favor to Kostopoulos by setting the captain up for a one-timer that whizzed past Sound Tigers goalie Stephon Williams at 7:51, making it 3-1.

Before the first period ended, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton added yet another goal on its first power play of the game and took a 4-1 advantage into the first intermission. Carter Rowney ripped a shot through traffic and beat Williams with 58.2 seconds left in the period for the Penguins’ fourth marker of the game.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton wasted no time adding to its lead, with Guentzel batting in a high-rising shot 1:50 into the second period. Guentzel’s second goal of the game also granted him his second four-point performance this season.

Garrett Wilson converted on a penalty shot at 11:49 of the middle frame, making it 6-1 in favor of the Penguins.

Another power play goal for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came from Steve Oleksy 1:17 into the third and final period of regulation, giving the Penguins a season-high seven goals.

Casey DeSmith finished the game having made 28 saves. Williams, who tended goal for Bridgeport in the first and third periods, recorded 14 stops on 19 shots faced. Christopher Gibson stepped in to tend the Sound Tigers’ crease for the second period and denied the Penguins on nine of 11 shots.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 5, against the Providence Bruins at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.

The Penguins’ next home game is Friday, Nov. 11, when they take on the Toronto Marlies at home for the only time this season.

Individual tickets for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton home games can be purchased at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, through Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 2016-17 season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including full season22-game12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS PRACTICE REPORT – NOVEMBER 2, 2016

Three weeks and seven games into the 2016-17 American Hockey League season, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have allowed a measly nine goals against – the lowest total in the 30 team league.  They’ve allowed just one goal in five of those seven contests, and have only allowed two goals in regulation once so far – that coming in a 6-2 opening night victory against the Hartford WolfPack.

It’s an historic start for a club that has become well known for stout displays of defense over the past decade.

But head coach Clark Donatelli isn’t necessarily figuring that the fantastically low GAA will hold up all season.

“It’s early.  Right now we’re playing well.  Our guys are paying attention to details,” he said following a nearly two hour practice on Wednesday at the Toyota SportsPlex.  “The D corps are playing very well, we’re getting good goaltending.  But I think overall it’s solid team defense.  Our forwards are coming back.  We work really hard at it in practice, and we pride ourselves in playing good defense.”

The Penguins are the only team to allow than 10 goals so far this season.  The San Jose Barracuda are close behind with just 11 against, but have played only four games to far.  The next closest teams after San Jose (Springfield, Tucson and Bakersfield) have allowed 15 tallies each to date.

And while the Pens have been less than generous in allowing goals, the work they’ve done in their own end is leading to tallies of their own.

“We try to create offense from all three zones,” said Donatelli.  “Guys are working really hard.  They’re blocking shots and winning one-on-one battles.  So so far so good.”

Kevin Porter provided a pair of prime examples of how defensive play can lead to offense when the Pens took on the Syracuse Crunch on October 22.  The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward tallied a pair of shorthanded goals in the 3-1 victory, becoming the first Penguin in nearly a decade to accomplish the feat.

The first goal came after Josh Archibald chipped a puck off of a Syracuse defender and fed Porter, who broke in alone on Crunch net minder Adam Wilcox.  The second goal saw Porter pressing the play at the Syracuse blue line, taking advantage of a defender’s miscue and sniping his second of the night.

“If you play good defense, it translates into the offense,” Porter stated.  “They’re going to have breakdowns offensively, then we chip it out and we go.  We have a good transition game.  Forwards are back-checking, D are standing up and making good plays.”

The Penguins will look to keep their opponents at bay again this weekend, when they play three games in three days.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hosts the Binghamton Senators on Friday night at 7:05pm, before hitting the road for contests against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Saturday night) and Providence Bruins (Sunday afternoon).

Tickets for Friday night’s home contest are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling the Penguins at 570-208-7367.