On Saturday night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins captured the first American Hockey League regular-season championship in franchise history by defeating the Rochester Americans 4-3 in overtime.
Defenseman Corey Potter opened the scoring at 4:35 of the first period with his sixth goal of the season. Paul Thompson, an undrafted forward recently signed out of the University of New Hampshire, picked up his first professional point with the secondary assist.
Rochester’s Chris Taylor tied the score just under four minutes later, and the Americans took the lead with 34 seconds left in the middle frame.
Andrew Hutchinson tied the game with his seventh of the season just 2:45 into the third period. Zach Sill put the Penguins in front at 5:01 with his third point of the night, and Hutchinson picked up his second point of the night with the assist.
At 6:36, Jeff LoVecchio tied it at 3-3, and the score stood for the remainder of regulation to force overtime. However, since the Penguins already had a point regardless of the outcome, they had secured the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy.
With 1:49 remaining in the extra period, Geoff Walker beat Amerks goaltender Marc Cheverie to seal the victory. Potter added an assist, which gave the Penguins three players with multi-point games on the evening.
Thiessen, Petersen Set Franchise Records in Sunday’s Win
On Sunday, the Penguins headed up to Syracuse to take on the Crunch, who have already been eliminated from playoff contention.
Despite the fact that the Crunch got on the board first after an officiating mistake, the Penguins came out on top with a 5-3 win. Thompson posted his first AHL goal, while Keven Veilleux had two goals. The other tallies came from Walker and Potter.
Nick Petersen set a team record by assisting on all five Penguins goals. His five helpers are the most assists by any player in franchise history.
Petersen, who is in his first professional season, has 11 points through 20 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Brad Thiessen earned his 34th win of the season, surpassing John Curry for the Penguins’ record for wins by a goaltender in a season. Curry previously posted 33 wins in the 2008-09 season.
Thiessen Named Winner of Baz Bastien Award
One day after Thiessen set a new team record, he was named the winner of the Baz Bastien Award for the AHL Goaltender of the Year.
In 44 games this year, he has a record of 34-7-1 with a 1.93 GAA and .922 save percentage.
Thiessen is the second WBS Penguins goaltender to earn the honor. Dany Sabourin won the 2006 award after going 30-14-4 with a .922 save percentage and 2.26 GAA.
Penguins To Wrap Up Regular Season This Weekend
The Penguins will conclude their regular season this coming weekend with three games in three nights.
On Friday and Saturday, they will play a home-and-home set with the Hershey Bears. Friday is fan appreciation night, and everyone who attends the game will go home with a prize. Season-ticket holders are eligible to win jerseys off the players' backs; the jerseys will be handed out in a postgame ceremony.
On Sunday, the Penguins play their final home game against the Adirondack Phantoms. Prior to faceoff, the team will hand out their annual awards.
First Two Calder Cup Playoff Games Scheduled
Regardless of who the Penguins draw as their first-round playoff opponent, the first two games have already been scheduled.
The Pens will open their ninth consecutive Calder Cup playoff run at home on Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16.
With the Kilpatrick Trophy under their belts, the Penguins are guaranteed home ice for as long as they are in the playoffs.
Likely bets for the Pens’ first-round opponent are the Norfolk Admirals, Charlotte Checkers and Binghamton Senators.