Monday's Catch Up & Links 12/1

Monday, December 1, 2014
Rookie forward Bryan Rust sets up in the slot during a drill at Penguins practice at the Toyota SportsPlex in November.
Welcome to December! The third month of the 2014-15 season is upon us already. Monday falling on the first day of the month is good timing for the weekly catch up and links article, as this week's post will take a look at both the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

The two teams meet Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena to play their 4th game in the 12-game season series between the teams. The Phantoms opened their season on the road with a win over the Penguins, but the Pens responded with an overtime victory in their first ever trip to the PPL Center. The Pens then held off the Phantoms at home in the two teams' most recent meeting to take a 2-1 lead in the season series, but the two are very much different teams than they were just over two weeks ago.

Penguins Split Last Week's Games in Two Goaltender Duels

The Penguins (12-8-1-1) lead the East Division as the third calendar month of the season begins.  Last week, the Pens beat the Thanksgiving Eve snowstorm and traveled to Hershey Wednesday morning in advance of a 7:00 p.m. ET matchup at Giant Center against the rival Bears. 

The game was scoreless through the first two periods and remained scoreless almost nine minutes into the third period before Stanislav Galiev tallied a power play goal to put the Bears in front 1-0. The Penguins pulled their goaltender in the final minute of regulation and Scott Wilson muscled a puck to the point to Brian Dumoulin for a shot that tied the game with 50.9 seconds left.

The Bears ultimately prevailed in the shootout after Dustin Gazley and Chris Brown scored for Hershey while J-S Dea was the lone goal scorer in the shootout for the Penguins. It was a goaltender's duel between Penguins' Jeff Zatkoff (26 saves - 27 shots) and Hershey's Philipp Grubauer (24 saves - 25 shots).

The low-scoring continued Saturday night at home against the IceCaps in a game that featured another goaltender's duel between two talented rookies in the Penguins' Matt Murray (5-3-1, 2.12 GAA, .912 GAA, 2 SO) and reigning AHL Player of the Week Connor Hellebucyk (9-5-2, 2.35 GAA, .929 SV%, 2 SO) for the IceCaps.

Again, the game was scoreless after 40 minutes and into the third until a power play goal by Jean-Sebastien Dea gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead they never looked back on. Murray and Hellebuyck were both spectacular in net, but it was Murray (22-save shutout) out-shining Hellebuyck (24 saves - 25 shots) and the Penguins earning two points. On the week the Penguins went 1-0-0-1 and lead second place Hershey (one game in hand) by two points in the division heading into this week's action.


Jeff Zatkoff and Matt Murray continue to be a dominating duo in net for the Penguins. As a team, the Penguins have allowed only five goals in their last five games.

Defensively, Taylor Chorney (day-to-day, upper body) missed Saturday night's game after leaving Wednesday night's game in the first period after a vicious hit from Hershey's Connor Carrick.

Barry Goers slotted into the lineup for the Pens in Chorney's absence, with Nick D'Agostino taking warmups as the team's 7th defenseman.

The AHL Penguins could see a defenseman recalled to Pittsburgh as the NHL club is down to six healthy defensemen with Kris Letang out of action.

Lines From Saturday Night vs. St. John's:

Scott Wilson - Conor Sheary - Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl - J-S Dea - Josh Archibald
Tom Kostopoulos - Carter Rowney - Adam Payerl
Pierre-Luc Leblond - Dominik Uher - Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin - Philip Samuelsson
Scott Harrington - Barry Goers
Reid McNeill - Derrick Pouliot

Jeff Zatkoff - Matt Murray

Scratches: Harrison Ruopp (healthy), Taylor Chorney (upper body), Nick Drazenovic (lower body), Anton Zlobin (upper body) and Nick D'Agostino (healthy)

Phantoms Finish Weekend With Win Over Norfolk

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (9-8-2-0) sit in fourth place in the East Division after the first quarter of the season, six points behind the first place Penguins with three games in hand on their division rival.

The Phantoms rebounded from two disappointing losses on Wednesday and Friday night with a 4-3 win over Norfolk on Saturday night. Rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz started all three games after starter Rob Zepp tweaked something during the warm up skate of Wedensday night's game. Zepp (lower body) was out of action last weekend but could return as soon as Friday night in Wilkes-Barre.

Both Wednesday night against Springfield and Friday against Albany, the Phantoms spotted the opposition a 3-0 lead before falling short with late rallies in the third period of each game. On Saturday night, it was a different story as Austin Fyten chased his own rebound and put the home team up 1-0 just 1:06 into play.

The Phantoms have overhauled their line combos, with the return of Jason Akeson from Philadelphia and Brandon Alderson being re-assigned to ECHL Reading, and have seen Blair Jones, Taylor Leier and Brandon Manning lead the way offensively as of late.

Jones tallied the Lehigh Valley Phantoms first ever Gordie Howe hat trick in franchise history Saturday night, with two goals, an assist and a fight. In six games since being re-assigned to the Phantoms from the Flyers, Jones has seven points (two goals, five assists)

Rookie forward Leier has tallied a power play goal in each of his last three games and has goals in four of his last five to help pace the Phantoms offensively. In 19 games this season, Leier has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) and his 7-goals lead the team.

Manning has been the leader on defense with injuries to Mark Alt and Shayne Ghostisbehere. In his fourth year with the Phantoms, Manning currently has an eight game points scoring streak and leads the team in scoring with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 17 games played.


With Rob Zepp (lower body) out this past weekend, the Phantoms had to recall rookie goaltender Martin Ouellette from Reading (ECHL). Ouellette replaced Stolarz after the first period of Friday night's game at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes of that game.

Defenseman Mark Alt returned from an upper body injury that caused him to miss 11 games on Wednesday night. With Alt's return, Jesper Pettersson has been the team's 7th defenseman and a healthy scratch the last two games.

Scott Laughton doesn't appear to be returning from Philadelphia any time soon, but the Phantoms have seen guys like Blair Jones and Jason Akeseon enter the AHL lineup. The new line combos seem to have much more depth and offense spread out amongst the top nine.

Forward Brett Hextall received a one-game suspension for receiving a game misconduct penalty Friday night for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of regulation. He was suspended under rule 46.22 and served his one-game suspension in the Phantoms win over Norfolk on Saturday night.

Lines From Saturday Night vs. Norfolk:

Taylor Leier - Blair Jones - Zack Stortini
Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Andrew Gordon
Austin Fyten - Darroll Powe - Jason Akeson
Jay Rosehill - Kevin Goumas - Derek Mathers

Mark Alt - Brandon Manning
Robert Hagg - Steven Delisle
Oliver Lauridsen - Brett Flemming

Anthony Stolarz - Martin Ouellette

Scratches: Rob Zepp (lower body), Jesper Pettersson (healthy), Shayne Ghostisbehere (ACL injury) and Brett Hextall (suspended)

Weekly Links

Some links to my league-wide coverage of the AHL for Hockey's Future:


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