GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Helmets jarred, gloves dropped and punches flew during Friday night’s game between the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Adirondack Phantoms, a game ultimately won by the visitors, 4-1.
Tom Kostopoulos, the Pens’ captain and leading scorer, scored two goals and assisted on another, leading a second-period charge that put his team up for good.
In that second period, Adirondack’s Zack FitzGerald went to the box with a double minor for boarding. Just over a minute later, Matt Mangene joined him to give the Pens a 5-on-3. At the 9:40 mark, Brendan Mikkelson and Nick Drazenovic assisted Kostopoulos who went top shelf to beat Adirondack’s Cal Heeter (20 saves).
While FitzGerald continued to serve the double-minor, the Penguins maintained the 5-on-3, despite the goal. Fifty-two seconds later, Kostopoulos went the other way, waited patiently and fed a trailing Brian Dumoulin for the 3-1 lead.
Two goals in under a minute turned the game in favor the Penguins (21-11-1-3).
“Big, that got a lot of momentum for us,” Kostopoulos said. “We knew both teams would play tight defensively and there wouldn’t be a lot of goals.”
Jeff Deslauriers, the Penguins’ goalie, turned away 31 shots and allowed just one—a slap shot from Jason Akeson off a face off at the 13:03 mark in the second period to tie the game at one.
Right from the opening whistle, both teams sparred, sending eight players to the penalty box with Wilkes-Barre’s Bobby Farnham taking the worst of it with a 10-minute misconduct. Twenty-one penalties were recorded in the game.
In the first period, Wilkes-Barre found itself down on a 5-on-3, killed it, then went the other way where Kostopoulos notched his first goal of the night and his 13th on the season.
“Being down on a 5-on-3 early, our goalie was our most important penalty killer,” Kostopoulos said. “That was a huge turn for us.”
Adirondack was 0-for-5 on the power play while the Penguins were 2-for-5.
“We knew it was going to be competitive and tough game,” said John Hynes, Wilkes-Barre’s head coach. “I liked our stick-to-itiveness. We have to focus on our game. We want to continue to get better and grow as a team. If we get the individual players better, we’ll be better at the end of the season.”
Hynes liked what he saw from his captain, who set the tone on the offensive side of the ice.
“He did a nice job, that’s why he’s our leader,” Hynes said of Kostopoulos. “In these heavier games, he finds a way to make us better.”
Going back to Jan. 3, the Penguins have played five games, alternating wins and losses. Saturday night they look to string together two wins for the first time since Dec. 31 and Jan. 3.
“Our big fault is that we’re up and down,” Kostopoulos said. “We win one, we lose one, we win one, we lose one. We need to get consistent from game to game.”
Harry Zolnierczyk added an empty-netter with 45 seconds remaining for the 4-1 lead.
Penguins 4, Adirondack 1
Scoring-1, W-B/Scranton, Kostopoulos 13 (Drazenovic), 13:32. Penalties-Noebels Adk (high-sticking), 0:37; Letourneau-Leblond Wbs (high-sticking), 3:22; McNeill Wbs (fighting), 3:22; Delisle Adk (fighting), 3:22; Holmstrom Adk (interference), 3:25; served by Torquato Wbs (bench minor - unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:08; Farnham Wbs (misconduct), 8:08; Ruopp Wbs (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:08; Thompson Wbs (delay of game), 13:23; Manning Adk (delay of game), 13:23; Thompson Wbs (slashing), 15:56; Ruopp Wbs (fighting), 16:11; Newbury Adk (fighting), 16:11.
Scoring-2, Adirondack, Akeson 9 (Newbury), 6:57. 3, W-B/Scranton, Kostopoulos 14 (Drazenovic, Mikkelson), 10:20 (PP). 4, W-B/Scranton, Dumoulin 2 (Kostopoulos, Zolnierczyk), 11:12 (PP). Penalties-Letourneau-Leblond Wbs (cross-checking), 2:49; Mathers Adk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2:49; FitzGerald Adk (roughing, roughing), 8:43; Mangene Adk (goaltender interference), 9:47; Ruopp Wbs (boarding), 13:33.
Scoring-5, W-B/Scranton, Zolnierczyk 12 (Dumoulin), 19:14 (EN). Penalties-Thompson Wbs (roughing), 6:04; served by Alderson Adk (bench minor - too many men), 13:14.
Shots on Goal
Power Play Opportunities
Penguins 2 / 6
Adirondack 0 / 5
Penguins, Deslauriers 15-9-2 (32 shots-31 saves).
Adirondack, Heeter 13-11-0 (23 shots-20 saves).
Referees-Chris Brown (86), Jamie Koharski (84).
Linesmen-Frank Murphy (29), Francis Trempe (56).