Monday's Catch Up & Links 11/25

Monday, November 24, 2014
The Phantoms have had home ice success lately.
It's Monday, which means it is time for the weekly catch up feature for things you might've missed over the weekend or earlier today.

Penguins End Weekend With Loss To Manchester

In a reversal of the previous week, the Penguins took two of three games on their slate this past week. They lead the East Division with 23 points - three ahead of second place Hershey.

On Wednesday, the Penguins earned a shutout victory over the Portland Pirates behind a 23-save performance from Jeff Zatkoff - his first shutout of the season. The Pirates did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone and the shooting lanes - holding the Penguins to just 16 shots - but a five-on-three goal from Andrew Ebbett proved to be the difference. Tom Kuhnhackl put the icing on the cake with his first of the season - an empty net goal with 1:44 remaining.

Friday in Albany was one of the most dominant performances of the season. The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on goals 18 seconds apart from Dominik Uher and Scott Wilson, then a 4-0 second period lead on two quick goals from Josh Archibald and Brian Dumoulin. They ended up with a 5-1 over the Devils, with a fifth different goal scorer in the third period in Jayson Megna - whose 9th goal of the season was his last before being recalled by Pittsburgh on Saturday morning.

Without Megna on Saturday against Manchester, the Penguins came up short in a 3-2 regulation loss to the Monarchs. Manchester took a 2-0 lead before power play tallies from J-S Dea and Conor Sheary tied the game. Unfortunately for the Pens, the Monarchs took the lead right back 31 seconds after the Pens had tied and held on in the 3rd for the win behind 21 saves from Jean-Francois Berube.


The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled forward Jayson Megna on Saturday.

There was a bit of shuffling on defense as Harrison Ruopp and Nick D'Agostino have joined the AHL Pens from Wheeling, while rookie Alex Boak has been re-assigned to the Nailers. The moves leave WBS with nine healthy defensemen.

The American Hockey League (AHL) announced this evening that they have suspended forward Pierre-Luc Leblond one game as a result of an illegal check to the head of an opponent Friday, November 21st against Albany.

Phantoms Helping Themselves at Home

The Phantoms earned five out of a possible six points last week and are just two points behind second place Hershey as this week begins. In the midst of a five-game home stand, the Phantoms remain unbeaten in regulation during the current stretch of home games.

On Wednesday night, it was another exciting finish at the PPL Center as the Phantoms took care of business in a shootout win over the Hershey Bears. Recently re-assigned from Philadelphia, Blair Jones made an immediate positive impact with the Phantoms. He recorded the primary assist on the game's opening goal - Andrew Gordon's 4th of the season - and tallied the only goal in the shootout to lift the Phantoms past the rival Bears.

Friday, it was rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz's night of firsts. He picked up his first pro win and shutout - a 36 save performance - against the Worcester Sharks in a 4-0 win for the home team. Stolarz was especially impressive in the final two minutes of regulation, stopping several point blank chances going from post-to-post on a 5-on-3 penalty kill to preserve the shutout. Brandon Manning tallied a goal for the fourth straight game, while Taylor Leier, Robert Hagg and Andrew Gordon also scored in the Phantoms' win.

The Phantoms ended the weekend with a goaltender's duel against the St. John's IceCaps on Saturday night. Sixty minutes was not enough time to decide a winner, but it was the IceCaps pulling away with a big overtime win in the first shift of 3-on-3 in the extra session. Rob Zepp stopped 24 of 26 shots but was outdone by rookie Connor Hellebucyk, who stopped 32 of 33 to pick up the win. Hellebuyck was named the AHL's Player of the Week and a big part of earning that nomination came from Saturday night's performance. Petr Straka tallied the lone goal, his 4th of the season, for the Phantoms in the loss.


Scott Laughton was recalled by the Flyers, while forward Blair Jones was re-assigned to Lehigh Valley (AHL).

Brett Hextall returned from a lengthy injury absence, allowing the Phantoms to re-assign forward Andrew Johnston to their ECHL affiliate in Reading.

Defenseman Mark Alt has begun to skate on his own, but is still quite a ways from making a return to the lineup. The Phantoms have been riding six healthy defensemen since Shayne Ghostisbehere went down with a torn ACL during the team's most recent road trip earlier this month.

Weekly Links

Every month at Hockey's Future, I take a look at each conference in the AHL and talk about major events as well as the monthly hot list of the top five performing prospects for the month in each conference.

  • Western Conference Notebook, November (should be posted shortly) 
Before he began his NHL career, I was fortunate enough to talk to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin while he was on an AHL conditioning stint with the Syracuse Crunch. The article looks at Drouin and other Lightning forwards who have come up through the system.

Stay tuned for more AHL features on Vancouver Canucks forward prospects Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk, a look at some Penguins forwards excelling in their respective rookie seasons and much more.


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