AHL Game Preview: WBS Pens Host Utica Comets Tonight 7:05 P.M. EDT

Saturday, December 14, 2013
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (WBS) host the Utica Comets (UTI) for the first ever meeting between the two teams in franchise history tonight at 7:05 p.m. EDT. The Pens are coming off a big 5-3 win over division rival Hershey, while the Comets also won last night in a 5-2 showing against Binghamton.

Despite going win-less through their first ten games in their first season as a team in the AHL, the Utica Comets have things going in their favor of late, breaking a three-game skid in an impressive win over a good Binghamton team. 

The Penguins are starting to get healthy up front, as Nick Drazenovic is looking better with each game he's been back, but are taking hits on the blue line with Brian Dumoulin in the NHL and Reid McNeill and Peter Merth going down with injuries this week.Added yesterday to a professional tryout by the WBS Penguins, former Wheeling Nailers defenseman Barry Goers looks to make his WBS debut tonight.

The WBS connection? Forwards Brandon DeFazio (68 games, 2010-12), Benn Ferriero (34 games, 2012-13) and Cal O'Reilly (21 games, 2010-11) are all former members of the AHL Penguins in recent years.

Tune into Highland Park Hockey on Twitter tonight for all the latest in-game updates of tonight's AHL action. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. EDT. Roster notes, lineups and more after the jump.

By The Numbers 

WBS: 15-7-1-2, 33 points - First Place East Division (3rd - East)
Last Ten Games: 5-4-1-0

UTI: 7-14-1-1, 16 points, Fifth Place North Division (15th - West)
Last Ten Games: 5-5-0-0

WBS Leading Scorers: Brian Gibbons (9G-18A), Tom Kostopoulos (10G-9A), Brendan Mikkelson (2G-15A)

UTI Leading Scorers: Pascal Pelletier (5G-15A), Benn Ferriero (9G-9A), Alexandre Grenier (5G-8A)

Expected Starting Goaltenders

WBS - Jeff Deslauriers: 11-6-2, 2.31 GAA, .902 SV%, 1 SO
UTI - Joe Cannata: 2-5-0, 3.31 GAA, .889 SV%, 0 SO

Penguins Roster Notes

Reid McNeill returned to the WBS lineup and it was a good vote of confidence by the coaching staff to insert him into the lineup on the top shutdown pairing with Philip Samuelsson.
 Unfortunately he left early in the second period last night with an apparent upper body injury and did not return. McNeill won't play tonight. 

Peter Merth didn't take the warmup skate last night or Wednesday night and the team has him back on the injured list.

With McNeill and Merth injured and Brian Dumoulin and Simon Despres up with Pittsburgh, PTO defenseman Barry Goers looks to make his WBS debut tonight.

Paul Thompson tallied his second goal in as many games in last night's 5-3 win. The expanded role and ice time is stating to pay off for Thompson.

Updated injury list:

Reid McNeill (upper body, out since 12/13, status unknown)
Peter Merth (lower body, out since 12/11, status unknown)
Adam Payerl (upper body - out since 11/30, 3-4 months)
Dominik Uher (upper body - out since 11/27, two weeks)

Expected Lines

Zolnierczyk - Gibbons - Thompson
Zlobin - Drazenovic - Kostopoulos
Farnham - Carman - Leblond

Kuhnhackl - Manderson - Sylvester

Harrington  - Samuelsson
D'Agostino - Mikkelson
Goers - Ruopp

Expected Scratches: Peter Merth, Reid McNeill, Dominik Uher, Adam Payerl and C.J. Severyn


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