PENGUINS BOUNCE BACK TO DEFEAT CHECKERS, 4-1
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins split their Thanksgiving weekend series against the Charlotte Checkers by winning 4-1 on Saturday evening at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (9-7-2-0) took it to Charlotte with early offense, then rode a career-best 44-save performance from Joel Blomqvist to victory.
The Penguins raced out of the gates with three goals in the first period. Valtteri Puustinen potted the team’s first tally, rifling a shot through traffic at 5:22 of the opening frame.
Midway through the period, Puustinen set up Joona Koppanen in the slot for a drive that lit the lamp. Less than two minutes later, Raivis Ansons buried his first goal of the season to make it 3-0.
Desperate to reverse their fortunes, the Checkers pushed back in the last five minutes of the first period. Blomqvist conjured a handful of sublime saves to keep Charlotte off the board.
Three overlapping penalties taken by the Checkers opened the door for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to run its lead to 4-0. Jack Rathbone delivered a slap pass to the backdoor for Jonathan Gruden, who stuffed in the five-on-three power-play goal at 15:28 of the second period.
Charlotte spoiled Blomqvist’s bid for his first AHL shutout midway through the third period when a pinballing puck ricocheted off of Will Lockwood and underneath the Penguins’ netminder.
Unfazed, Blomqvist continued to rebuff the Checkers’ attempts to crawl closer on the scoreboard, earning the third-most saves by an AHL netminder this season in the process.
Evan Cormier started the game for Charlotte, but was pulled during the first intermission after making three saves on six shots faced. Cormier was replaced by Ludovic Waeber, who made 18 stops in relief.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is back home on Wednesday, Nov. 29 against the Hershey Bears. All children ages 14 and under will receive a $5 ride book from Knobels Amusement Park good for the upcoming 2024 season. Game time for the Penguins and Bears is 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Season-ticket packages for the Penguins’ 25th season of hockey are on sale now. Full-Season, 22-game, 12-game, Flexbook and Premium Seating plans are available by reaching out to the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367. Individual-game tickets are also available by visiting Ticketmaster.com, the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office or calling the Penguins’ front office at (570) 208-7367.