The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have been to the Calder Cup playoffs every season since the '02-'03 campaign. Contrast that with the Springfield Falcons, through a variety of affiliations, and have not been to the dance since that very same season.
The Penguins have been anything but a pushover these last nine seasons.
Last Friday's win by the Falcons on the Penguins home ice, by a 7-4 margin, left many wondering if the Penguins had taken a step back. Others wondered if the Falcons offense would, as many hope, emerge as the envy of the AHL this season.
The Penguins came to Springfield Friday night with revenge on their mind.
In a fast-paced, well played game, the Penguins shut out the Falcons by a 3-0 score at "The Nest".
Manny Legace, signed earlier in the day to a PTO, got the starting nod from coach Rob Riley. Legace was starting his first game for the Falcons since the 1997-98 season.
The first period, although scoreless, was anything but uneventful, as Dane Byers rallied the Falcons by earning 9 penalty minutes in two separate incidents. In the early going, Byers tried to entice Joey Mormina into an altercation. Mormina wanted no part of Dane, which left referee Ryan Fraser calling a double minor on Byers for roughing. Late in the period, Byers got busy with Eric Tangradi. By no means a good scrap, the combatants each received the obligatory five for fighting.
Late in the second period, John Moore was serving a cross checking minor when Geoff Walker capitalized on the power play, notching his third goal of the season and giving the Pens a 1-0 lead.
Midway through the third period, former Falcon Bryan Lerg set up Eric Tangradi, extending the lead to 2-0. Just after Legace was pulled for the extra skater, Lerg scored into the empty net giving the Penguins the 3-0 victory.
Last season's Harry "Hap" Holmes Award winner, Brad Thiessen played a strong game between the pipes for WBS. Thiessen racked up 26 saves in earning the shutout and was voted the games #1 star.
Number two star on the night was Bryan Lerg, with the returning Legace checking in at #3.
The Falcons return to the MassMutual Center ice at 7PM for the first half of a home-and-home with the Connecticut Whale. The two clubs will meet again tomorrow afternoon at the XL Center in Hartford at 3PM.