PENGUINS SCORE LATE, BUT LOSE IN SHOOTOUT, 3-2

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins managed a late-game equalizer to force overtime in their Sunday afternoon game, but ultimately fell in the shootout to the Utica Comets by a 3-2 score at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

The Penguins dropped to 47-19-3-1 on the season, but still managed to inch closer to a playoff berth as a result of the extra point claimed by losing after regulation.

It did not take long for the visitors to start the scoring as Cody Kunyk tipped in a shot from the point just 2:28 into the contest. Kunyk’s redirection ended up being the only goal of the opening period.

Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos helped tie the game, 1-1, by setting up Zach Aston-Reese from behind the net for a power play goal at 5:08 of the second period.

An own goal by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton reestablished Utica’s one-goal lead at 12:58 of the middle frame. Jordan Subban was credited with the goal, his second point of the game.

The Penguins furiously attempted to knot thing up throughout the third period, but were consistently foiled by rookie goalie Thatcher Demko. It wasn’t until Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 15th shot of the period and an empty-net, extra attacker power play that Oskar Sundqvist snuck the puck across the line on Demko’s short side with a mere 58.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

The game went to a shootout after the thrilling three-on-three overtime period that didn’t have a single stoppage. Utica’s Curtis Valk notched the shootout’s only goal and claimed victory for the Comets.

Tristan Jarry recorded 34 saves during the game and made an additional two more stops in the shootout. Demko made 43 saves and denied the Penguins on all three of their shootout attempts.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Apr. 2, when it takes on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at PPL Center. The Penguins’ next home game is Wednesday, Apr. 12, and once again, their opponent will be the Phantoms. Puck drop between the Penguins and Phantoms is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

ASTON-REESE NAMED ONE OF THREE FINALISTS FOR HOBEY BAKER AWARD

Zach Aston-Reese was in the midst of a video session with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins assistant coach Chris Taylor when word came down that he had been named one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. So the recently-signed rookie hadn’t even received word on the honor before a gaggle of reporters grabbed him on the way back to his locker.

“I just found out from you guys,” said the grinning Aston-Reese. “It’s pretty exciting. I don’t really know what to say. I’m just kind of focusing in on this weekend right now. I’ve got a big weekend coming up. That’s something that I’ll probably have to call my parents about and kind of worry about next week.”

The Hobey Baker Award has been presented every year since 1981 to the top NCAA men’s hockey player for skill on the ice and character inside and outside of the rink. The award is named after former Princeton Tigers forward Hobey Baker (1892-1918), who perished in an airplane accident while serving in France during World War I.

The Hockey East Player of the Year and a First Team all-conference forward, Aston-Reese led the entire nation with 31 goals and tied for the top spot in college hockey with 63 points this year while skating with Northeastern. With that stat sheet, many assumed the Staten Island native would be a shoe-in for one of the final spots for the award.

But Aston-Reese wasn’t one of them.

When asked if he was surprised to be in the final three, Aston-Reese replied, “A little bit. There was a lot of good guys in the top 10 and a lot of guys that made it further with their teams.”

Zach Aston-Reese led the entire NCAA with 31 goals this season (photo courtesy Northeastern University)

Aston-Reese showed continual improvement during his four seasons at Northeastern, and more than doubled his goal production from his junior to senior seasons (14 goals to 31).

“I never really dreamed about [being nominated for the Hobey Baker Award],” he said. “I was kind of a grinder back in the day. Still am. But I just had some success this year with producing. So it kind of just fell on me this year.”

Signed to an amateur tryout by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 18, Aston-Reese has recorded six points (2+4) in his first four games with the AHL club, and carries a four-game point streak into Friday night’s road contest against the Springfield Thurnderbirds.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins return home for a pair of games this weekend against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Saturday at 7:05pm) and Utica Comets (Sunday at 3:05pm). Sunday’s game is a KIDS FREE contest, with fans ages 14 and younger able to attend the game for FREE with a paid adult ticket.

Tickets for both games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com or by calling 570-208-7267.

JARRY, PENGUINS SHUT-OUT PHANTOMS, 4-0

 

BOXSCORE

 

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins extended their lead atop the Atlantic Division and inched closer to a playoff berth by defeating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 4-0 at PPL Center on Saturday night.

The Penguins (45-18-3-0) rode the coat tails of Tristan Jarry and their league-best penalty kill to victory. Jarry stopped all 35 shots he faced to record his second shutout of the season, while the P.K. went a perfect nine-for-nine on the night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opened the scoring at 12:58 of the first period. Video review confirmed Teddy Blueger snuck a puck past Lehigh Valley goalie Alex Lyon’s short-side, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins’ fourth-line provided the team with a pair of goals in the middle frame. Adam Krause deflected in a shot from the point for his first goal of the season 5:07 into the second period. Jarrett Burton put his stick on a pass from Troy Josephs that beat Lyon through the legs, extending the Penguins lead to 3-0 at 12:18 of the middle frame.

The penalty killing clinic by the Penguins took over from there, neutralizing five-straight man advantages for the Phantoms before Tom Kostopoulos netted a power play goal for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a mere 1:14 remaining in regulation.

Kostopoulos’ two point night (1G-1A) allowed him reach the 50-point plateau for the seventh time in his career. Zach Aston-Reese notched two assists to extend his career-opening point streak to three games.

Lyon turned aside 26 shots in the loss for the Phantoms.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Sunday, Mar. 26, when it takes on the Utica Comets at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in a Sunday matinée. Puck drop between the Penguins and Comets is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Sunday’s game is also one of three Kids Get In Free games this season.

Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS CRUISE TO 5-1 WIN AT SYRACUSE

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins rode an impressive offensive performance to a 5-1 win against the Syracuse Crunch at Onondaga County War Memorial Arena on Friday night.

Hobey Baker finalist Zach Aston-Reese continued to impress early on in his pro career, as he notched a goal and an assist in his second pro game while the Penguins (44-18-3-0) kicked off their three-in-three weekend on a high note.

Thomas Di Pauli scored his second career goal to open the scoring, giving the Penguins an early 1-0 lead only 5:22 into the contest.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continued to go to work as Kevin Porter and Aston-Reese set one another up for back-to-back goals one shift apart, making it 3-0. Syracuse goalie Kristers Gudļevskis saw his night end before the 15-minute mark and was replaced by Mike McKenna.

Syracuse eventually got on the board with a shorthanded tally by Michaël Bournival on a two-on-none rush with Cory Conacher with 3:44 remaining in the first.

The Penguins reestablished their three-goal edge 1:09 into the middle frame. A blue line blast from Barry Goers went past a screen and then McKenna, making it 4-1. Another early period goal at the start of the third period made it 5-1 when Dominik Simon tapped in his 13th goal of the year after a cross-crease pass from Ryan Haggerty.

In addition to a runaway victory for the road team, the game devolved into a penalty-filled contest by the end of regulation, too. The two clubs combined for 13 power plays and 40 total penalty minutes, but 32 of those PIMs came after the midway point of the game.

Tristan Jarry was spectacular once again in net for the Penguins as he made 27 saves on 28 shots for his 26th win on the year, tying him for the league lead. McKenna made 23 saves on 25 shots in his relief stint after Gudļevskis allowed three goals on seven shots.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Saturday, Mar. 24, when it takes on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at PPL Center. The Penguins’ next home showing is on Sunday, Mar. 26 when they take on the Utica Comets for a 3:00 p.m. Sunday matinée and Kids Get In Free game.

Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

ASTON-REESE SHAKES OFF NERVES IN PRO DEBUT

You could forgive Zach Aston-Reese for having a few butterflies fluttering around before Tuesday night’s game against the Hartford Wolf Pack.  After all, the 22-year old was about to make his professional hockey debut while suiting up on the top line for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“I was a little nervous in warm ups.  I think I whiffed on half of my shots,” he laughed following the Pens’ 5-2 win.  “But halfway through the first I got my confidence a little bit.”

And by the end of the period, any semblance of nervousness was gone.

The leading scorer in the NCAA this season, Aston-Reese netted his first pro goal with just 17.3 seconds left in the opening frame, giving the Penguins a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes of play.

The goal came off of a goal line feed from team captain Tom Kostopoulos, who found Aston-Reese in the slot.

“TK made a really nice play to me.  I didn’t hesitate, I just put it on net,” said Aston-Reese.  “It was fortunate enough to go in.”

The Northeastern product was being a bit modest saying he was fortunate to score.  Goals have come at a prodigious pace for the recently signed free agent this season, as he scored 31 times in 38 games with the Huskies during his senior year.

Head coach Clark Donatelli was impressed with what he saw out of the rookie forward.

“Quick release.  For his first game, he’s pretty poised with the puck,” said Donatelli.  “You can tell he’s a goal scorer.”

Aston-Reese didn’t look out of place skating with Kostopoulos and Kevin Porter, two vets who had combined to play more than 1,900 professional games headed into last night’s action.  But he did notice a bit of a difference in one area compared to the college game.

“I said on the bench to TK actually that guys are a lot stronger and it’s tougher to get to the net,” he remarked.

Tuesday was just a taste of the AHL for Aston-Reese.  The Penguins will play three games in three days this weekend, something which is a rarity in the college ranks.  Still, the Staten Island native is looking forward to the challenge of the late season schedule.

“It’s not going to get any easier.  I just have to keep my mind right, keep my body going here.”

NOTES:  Aston-Reese became the first Penguins player to score in his pro debut sine Kasperi Kapanen tallied against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on April 8, 2015…Aston-Reese became the 77th Penguins player to receive an assist from Tom Kostopoulos.

PENGUINS WEEKLY – 3/22/17

 

Penguins start week right with win before three-in-three weekend

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (43-18-3-0) looks ahead to trio of playoff-caliber teams

 

Weekly Rewind

Friday, Mar. 17 – PENGUINS 4 at Lehigh Valley 1
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton kicked off a back-to-back set with Lehigh Valley by rattling off four unanswered goals en route to a big win. Josh Archibald scored a shorthanded goal to turn the tide. Dominik Simon tallied for the third-straight game.

 

Saturday, Mar. 18 – PENGUINS 2 vs. Lehigh Valley 3
The Penguins attempted a valiant third period comeback, but ran out of time to drop the second game of their home and home with the Phantoms. Tom Kostopoulos scored on the power play, and Oskar Sundqvist struck shorthanded for the club’s eighth shorty of the season.

 

Tuesday, Mar. 21 – PENGUINS 5 vs. Hartford 2
The Pens made it a perfect seven-for-seven against the Wolf Pack this season thanks in large part to a two-goal outburst from Ryan Haggerty. Zach Aston-Reese made his pro debut and scored the game-winning goal.

 

The Week Ahead

Friday, Mar. 24 – PENGUINS at Syracuse
The North Division-leading Crunch play host to the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins in their final meeting of the season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 4-1-0-0 against Syracuse this season.

 

Saturday, Mar. 25 – PENGUINS at Lehigh Valley
The Penguins and Phantoms face one another for the fourth time in March. The season series is knotted at four wins each, but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has emerged victorious in its last two visits to PPL Center.

 

Sunday, Mar. 26 – PENGUINS vs. Utica
The Comets will come into Sunday’s matinée motivated, as they currently sit just one win outside the North Division playoff bubble. Sunday’s contest is also a Kids Get In Free game.

 

Ice Chips

– Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has already matched its win total from last season (43).

– Zach Aston-Reese is the first Penguin to score in his pro debut since Kasperi Kapanen (Apr. 8, 2015).

– Dominik Simon is on a five-game point streak, tying an AHL career high. He also has 12 points (4G-8A) in his last 11 games.

– The Penguins have outscored the Wolf Pack 38-13 this season.

– Wilkes-Barre/Scranton boasts the best penalty kill in the league (86.9%).

– David Warsofsky leads the AHL with a plus-31 rating and he tops all defensemen with 13 multi-point games this season.

– Tristan Jarry has the second-most wins in the AHL (25).

 

DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS Pt%
1. PENGUINS 64 43 18 3 0 89 .695
2. Lehigh Valley 64 41 19 4 0 86 .672
3. Hershey 65 36 28 8 3 83 .638
4. Providence 64 36 19 5 4 81 .633
5. Bridgeport 64 38 23 2 1 79 .617
6. Springfield 64 27 27 8 2 64 .500
7. Hartford 64 21 37 4 2 48 .375

 

TEAM LEADERS

SKATERS GP G A PTS
Tom Kostopoulos 64 23 26 49
David Warsofsky 49 15 29 44
Jake Guentzel*^ 33 21 21 42
Kevin Porter 60 10 32 42
Dominik Simon 61 12 29 41

 

GOALIES GP W-L-OT GAA SV% Shutouts
Tristan Jarry 40 25-14-1 2.27 .921 1
Casey DeSmith* 23 17-4-2 2.28 .912 0

* = rookie

^ = currently with Pittsburgh

 

UPCOMING GAME SCHEDULE

DATE                 OPPONENT         LOCATION                                TIME    

Fri, Mar. 24        Syracuse              Onondaga War Memorial        7:00 p.m.

Sat, Mar. 25       Lehigh Valley      PPL Center                                 7:05 p.m.

Sun, Mar. 26     Utica                      Mohegan Sun Arena                3:05 p.m.

 

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Mon, Mar. 21     (D)   Derrick Pouliot                Reassigned by PIT

Mon, Mar. 21     (D)   Frank Corrado                      Recalled by PIT

Mon, Mar. 21     (C)    Oskar Sundqvist                   Recalled by PIT

Mon, Mar. 21     (D)   Ryan Segalla                  Recalled from WHL

ASTON-REESE NOTCHES GAME-WINNER IN PRO DEBUT AS PENGUINS DEFEAT HARTFORD, 5-2

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – It didn’t take long for college hockey’s top offensive threat to make an impression on the pro ranks. Zach Aston-Reese scored the game-winning goal for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in their 5-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack on Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

The Penguins (43-18-3-0) downed the Wolf Pack for the seventh time this season thanks to Aston-Reese’s well-timed strike at the end of the first period and two more tallies from Ryan Haggerty.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton got off to an early lead 4:45 into the game when Josh Archibald waited ever so patiently to avoid going offside and accepted a breakaway pass that he wristed into the net. However, the lead did not last long, as Chris Brown struck back for Hartford just 23 seconds after Archibald’s goal.

Haggerty earned another breakaway opportunity for the Penguins and converted on his chance, making it 2-1 at 7:34 of the opening frame. The Wolf Pack raced to another swift answer, though, this time in the form of a shorthanded goal by Marek Hrivík coming less than a minute after Haggerty’s marker.

The rollercoaster opening frame was closed out by Aston-Reese rocketing a shot past Hartford goalie Jeff Malcolm with a mere 18 seconds remaining in the period, bringing the score to 3-2 in favor of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Haggerty’s second goal of the night gave the Penguins some breathing room at 3:36 of the second period. David Warsofsky extended that lead to 5-2 at 6:39 of the middle frame with a point shot on the power play. The power play goal spelled the end of the night for Malcolm, who was replaced in the cage by Mackenzie Skapski.

Skapski went on to make 15 saves on 15 shots faced in relief, but the team in front of him never got any closer on the scoreboard as the Penguins secured the two points. Casey DeSmith stopped 19 shots in the win for the Penguins. Malcolm turned away 14 shots.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Mar. 24 at Onondaga County War Memorial Arena against the Syracuse Crunch. Puck drop between the Penguins and Crunch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The Penguins’ next home showing is on Sunday, Mar. 26 when they take on the Utica Comets for a 3:00 p.m. Sunday matinée and Kids Get In Free game.

Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

LATE SEASON ADDITIONS CAN HELP PENGUINS

Troy Josephs and Zach Aston-Reese have joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after exceptional senior seasons at Clarkson and Northeastern respectively.  And while it remains to be seen what kind of impact the talented duo will have in the final month of American Hockey League action, past late season signings by the Penguins have led to positive performances.

Back in April 2014, a little known free agent named Connor Sheary signed an Amateur Tryout contract with the Penguins after completing his collegiate career at U. Mass.  The speedy forward appeared in two regular season games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before going on to post 11 points (6+5) in 15 postseason contests.  That point total was good for third on the team, and his six goals were tied for second.

The following year, Sheary led the AHL club with 45 points in just 58 games, and earned himself and NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He joined the NHL squad midway through last season, and was a key component of Pittsburgh’s fourth Stanley Cup Championship.

At the beginning of last season, Jake Guentzel was just another mid-round draft selection that you may or may not have heard of.  Grabbed by the Penguins in the third round in 2013, Guentzel went on to lead the University of Nebraska-Omaha with 46 points last season, before signing an ATO with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 22.  He recorded a respectable six points (2+4) in 11 regular season games, before turning on the afterburners in the playoffs.  His 14 points (5+9) in 10 postseason contests led the Penguins, and were the most by any player in the league when the Pens were eliminated after the second round.

Guentzel picked right up where he left off this season, posting 42 points in 33 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  He also notched a pair of goals in his NHL debut against the New York Rangers, and has 25 points (11+14) in his first 34 NHL contests (as of March 20).  His 21 tallies with the AHL Penguins this season still ranked tied for second among league rookies on March 15, despite Guentzel’s last game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coming on January 14.

Daniel Sprong was another highly-touted prospect that jumped right into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lineup and provided a spark last year.  The Pittsburgh Penguins’ second round choice in the 2015 NHL Draft recorded 46 points (16+30) in just 33 games with his junior club in Charlottetown (QMJHL), then joined the AHL club just as the Calder Cup Playoffs were getting underway.  He put up an impressive five goals and seven points in 10 postseason contests with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The 20-year old Sprong has been tearing up the QMJHL again this season.  After missing much of the campaign due to injury, Sprong has recorded 32 goals and 59 points in just 31 games with Charlottetown.  The Islanders finished second overall in the Q this season, and figure to be among the favorites when the league’s playoffs start this week.

It’s a busy seven day span for the Penguins, who will host the Hartford WolfPack at home on Tuesday night before a three-in-three weekend.  The Pens will play in Syracuse Friday and Allentown Saturday, before returning home to face the Utica Comets on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday’s game is another KIDS FREE Sunday. Fans ages 14 and younger can get into the game for free with a paid adult ticket. Plus we’ll have $2 hot dogs throughout the game, and a free postgame skating session (skates not included).

For more info or to purchase tickets, call the Penguins at 570-208-7367.

PITTSBURGH SIGNS ZACH ASTON-REESE


The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed college free agent forward Zach Aston-Reese to a two-year, entry-level contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

The contract will begin with the 2017-18 season and run through the 2018-19 campaign.

Aston-Reese will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this weekend on an amateur tryout contract this year.

Aston-Reese, 22, recently completed a successful four-year career at Northeastern, leading the NCAA this past season with 63 points (31G-32A) in just 38 games. His goal total also led the NCAA.

The 6-foot, 180-pound native of Staten Island, New York completed his four years at Northeastern averaging better than a point per game with 148 points (66G-82A) in 145 contests. His offensive totals improved all four seasons.

A two-year alternate captain at Northeastern, Aston-Reese skated three-plus years in the USHL, mostly for the Lincoln Stars.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are home again this Saturday night when they face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:05pm.  It’s our annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, featuring a game-worn shamrock sweater auction.

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