The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins opened their 2011-12 season last weekend with games against the Hershey Bears and Connecticut Whale. After traveling to Rochester on Thursday to face the Americans, the team is back home on Friday and Saturday to take on the Springfield Falcons and the Binghamton Senators, the defending Calder Cup champions.
So what’s new in the world of the Baby Penguins after their opening weekend?
Get all the news here in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins News and Notes for today, Oct. 14, 2011.
Opening Weekend Woes
The Penguins’ season got off to a slow start last weekend. On Saturday, Oct. 8, the team dropped its home opener against Hershey by a score of 3-2.
Rookie Brian Gibbons scored his first professional goal, a shorthanded tally, at 15:27 of the first period, just four minutes after Kyle Greentree put Hershey on the board first. However, 20 seconds later, the Bears’ Matthew Ford scored his first to give the Bears a 2-1 lead going into the locker room.
Wilkes-Barre managed a goal from Niko Dimitrakos at 1:06 of the second period while the Pens were on the power play. But that was the only offense the Penguins would muster, as Keith Aucoin broke the 2-2 tie on a power-play goal of his own 3:33 into the third. Brad Thiessen, the 2010-11 AHL Goaltender of the Year, stopped 20 shots in the loss.
The Pens went right back to work on Sunday against the Whale. The two teams battled to a scoreless tie through the shootout. Dimitrakos and Gibbons scored in the shootout, but the Whale got goals from three of four shooters to take the victory.
Backup goalie Scott Munroe, making his Penguins debut, stopped 23 shots through regulation and overtime.
Penguins Get First Win on the Road
Gibbons, Bryan Lerg and Eric Tangradi each had a goal and an assist, and defenseman Brian Strait scored the game-winning goal as the Penguins took on the Rochester Americans on Thursday. The Penguins won 5-1 for their first win of the season and spoiled the Amerks’ home opener.
Colin McDonald, the AHL’s leading goal scorer last year, scored his first goal as a Penguin. Dimitrakos scored his second of the season, and Cody Chupp and Philip Samuelsson each had an assist. Thiessen made 29 saves.
Marcus Foligno scored the lone goal for Rochester, who broke the Pens’ shutout bid at 16:27 of the third.
WBS Penguins Injury Update
The Penguins have several players on the sideline with injuries. Here is the breakdown:
Nick Petersen: The second-year pro, who set a Pens record last year with five assists in a game, is recovering from a concussion. He was in full practice gear earlier this weekend and might return next weekend.
Brian Day: Day, who played 10 AHL games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last year, will need groin surgery. He left practice early last week. There is no timeline for his return.
Keven Veilleux: The physical forward had another tough break with an injury this year. He suffered a knee injury in a preseason game last month and will miss six months, as he needs surgery.
Robert Bortuzzo: The defenseman is recovering from a knee injury suffered in the rookie tournament last month. He is expected back within one to two weeks.
Jason Williams: The veteran forward is recovering from a groin injury. He practiced in a red no-contact jersey this week.
Ben Street: Street has a lower-body injury and did not practice on Wednesday. However, his absence is not expected to be long-term, and he could be back in the lineup as soon as next weekend.
(All injury information comes from Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie, who blogs about the team at the Penguins Insider blog, featured on The Citizens’ Voice website.)
Mormina Steps up for Prostate Cancer Awareness
Penguins defenseman Joey Mormina is heading an effort with some of his Penguins teammates to spread awareness about prostate cancer.
Mormina, whose father-in-law is battling the disease, will grow a mustache during the month of November as part of “Mo'vember,” a prostate cancer awareness initiative. He did this last year as well.
Fellow Penguins players McDonald, Tangradi, Strait, Ryan Craig and Zach Sill have agreed to help Mormina spread the word about research into and awareness of the disease.
At Penguins home games and at the WBS Penguins Pro Shop, there are containers bearing the names of these five players. Fans can put money into the jar of the player they most want to see grow a mustache. The player who raises the most money will join Mormina in growing a mustache next month.
Next Five Games
Here is the schedule for the Penguins’ next five games. All times are Eastern.
Oct. 14, Friday: at home vs. the Springfield Falcons (7:05 p.m.)
Oct. 15, Saturday: at home vs. the Binghamton Senators (7:05 p.m.)
Oct. 21, Friday: at Springfield Falcons, Mass Mutual Center (7:30 p.m.)
Oct. 22, Saturday: at Hershey, Giant Center (7:00 p.m.)
Oct. 28, Friday: at Syracuse, Onondaga War Memorial at Oncenter (7:30 p.m.)
Fans can listen to the games with play-by-play announcer Tom Grace and color commentator Mike O’Brien at 102 the Mountain, the Penguins’ flagship radio station. The game can also be viewed on AHL Live for the cost of $6 a game.
This article can also be found at Bottom Line Hockey.