Crunched: #WBSPens Defeat Syracuse 5-3

Friday, November 15, 2013
In Syracuse, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (WBS) get back on track with a 5-3 win tonight over the Syracuse Crunch, aided by a fast start in a three-goal first period. The Penguins return home for a Saturday night matchup with the Hershey Bears. The Crunch look to bounce back tomorrow night when they host Albany.

The Pens were off and running in the first period, scoring three goals on seven shots. First it was Simon Despres blasting a shot from the point past Crunch goaltender Riku Helenius 2:26 into the contest. Brendan Mikkelson picked up the lone assist.

During some four-on-four hockey midway through the first period, Despres was at it again, setting up Jayson Megna for his 4th goal of the season in his first game back with the AHL Penguins. No signs of an NHL hangover for Megna.

The Crunch tried to get back into the game with physical play, but Reid McNeill answered the challenge from Crunch captain Mike Angelidis and went to town on the opposing forward. Just 38 seconds later, Joey Mormina came flying into the WBS crease and jumped Brendan Mikkelson in a one-sided affair.

From there, the Penguins continued to control play. They got a late power play and made the Crunch pay, with a point shot from Despres bouncing off Chris Conner's skate and into the net giving WBS a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. A big period from Despres, who tallied a goal and two assists.

The Crunch responded with a better effort in the second period, getting on the board 7:29 into the middle frame when Vlad Namestnikov scored his 8th of the season. Nikita Kucherov, the AHL's 2nd leading scorer, added an assist for the home team, bringing the Crunch within two goals at 3-1.

Moments after Mormina saved a WBS goal on the power play, Tom Kostopoulos swatted home a rebound past Helenius after getting a piece of Scott Harrington's shot from the point. The captain's 5th goal of the season restored the Pens' three goal lead at 4-1.

The Crunch scored a late 2nd period goal to stick around when Evan Rankin found a loose puck off of an offensive zone face-off and fired a quick shot that surprised WBS goaltender Jeff Deslauriers. That brought the game to 4-2 after 40 minutes of play.

In the third period, the Pens didn't let their foot off the gas, restoring their three goal lead 1:41 into the final frame when Brian Gibbons tapped home a puck past Helenius. Gibbons' linemates, Conner and Zolnierczyk, added the assists.

Once again, the Crunch didn't fade away into the night quietly. Namestnikov, who added to his 13 game point scoring streak, found Danick Gauthier to bring the Crunch back within two goals at 5-3 midway through the third period. The Crunch got a power play chance moments later with a chance to get within one goal, but the Penguins penalty kill stood tall.


Zach Sill was called up to Pittsburgh earlier this evening, but didn't take the warmup skate with the NHL Penguins and was a healthy scratch. It's Sill's first NHL call up and after 272 regular season AHL games, it's one that is well deserved for the 5th year pro.

Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond did not take the warmup skate tonight and is still recovering from a lower body injury he sustained last Friday against Albany.

Jayson Megna made his return to WBS after being re-assigned from Pittsburgh. He wasted no time answering his critics suspecting an "NHL Hangover", scoring his 4th of the season in the first period.

Reid McNeill left the game in the third period after blocking a shot with his right arm. He headed to the bench wincing in pain and left the ice with trainer Kyle Moore on the next stoppage in play. McNeill did not return to the game.


Zolnierczyk - Gibbons - Conner
Kuhnhackl - Ebbett - Kostopoulos
Uher - Drazenovic - Megna
Farnham - Carman - Thompson

Samuelsson - Despres
Harrington - Dumoulin
McNeill - Mikkelson


WBS scratches: Peter Merth, Nick D'Agostino, Adam Payerl and Pierre-Luc Leblond


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