WILKES-BARRE TWP. –Joey Mormina ate his grandmother’s lasagna for lunch and then went out and assisted on all three Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin goals in the second period of Friday’s 3-1 win over the Providence Bruins.
Still, there was another element - other than lasagna, that fueled Mormina and his teammates heading in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Down 3-0 in the series and facing elimination, the Penguins played like a team with their back to the wall, and team captain Mormina led the way.
In the first period his physical play was a message to the Bruins that the Penguins weren’t even close to mailing it in. The Bruins weren’t listening, however, as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the game.
Unlike Games 1 and 2, the Penguins didn’t waver.
“We learned some lessons early and we applied them,” said head coach John Hynes. “Regardless of the circumstances, in the playoffs you have to have composure and stick with what you’re doing.”
That approach paid big dividends for the Penguins in the second period, thanks in large part to Mormina, who had only two points in 51 career playoff games before this postseason.
He got the second assist on a Warren Peters wrist shot that evened the score 1-1 six minutes into the period. Mormina then launched a shot that was blocked and careened over to a wide open Riley Holzapfel, who buried it from the faceoff circle to make it 2-1.
With two minutes left in the period and the Penguins on their second power play of the night, Mormina flicked a shot in from the point that made it through traffic and was deflected past Providence goaltender Niklas Svedberg by Chad Kolarik to make it 3-1.
Mormina’s teammates quickly took notice of his effort.
“That’s exactly what you expect out of your captain,” said Bobby Farnham. “To be a factor in all three goals in an elimination game… it’s unbelievable for a guy to step up like that.”
Goaltender Brad Thiessen, who stopped 31 of 32 shots while limiting the Bruins to a total of three goals in the last two games, got his second start in what could’ve been his last game as a Penguin. He allowed a first period goal to Carter Camper but was solid after that. Thiessen came up big several times in the second period, stopping Justin Florek on a breakaway and Jamie Tardiff in front of the net.
Friday’s win wasn’t a matter of pride to avoid being swept, but rather staying the course, according to Hynes.
“it’s the fact we want to win and continue to play and go after a championship,” he said. “It wasn’t pride. This is who we are and we want to continue our journey in the postseason.”
That will happen tonight when the puck drops for Game 5 at 7:05 p.m.
But for Mormina, it will begin at lunchtime today when he has more of his grandmother’s lasagna.
“I’ll use the leftovers. There’s a little bit left,” he said.
- G Scott Darling, D Dylan Reese (injury), D Cody Wild, C Chris Barton, C Dominik Uher, LW Bobby Farnham, LW Anton Zlobin, LW Steve MacIntyre and D Harrison Ruopp were scratched for the Penguins.
- Stroudsburg area singer-songwriter Christian Porter performed the Star Spangled Banner prior to Friday’s game. Porter, 22, recently appeared on the NBC series The Voice. He was a member country artist Blake Shelton’s team before being eliminated from the competition.
- The Penguins are now 18-11 when facing elimination.
Providence 1 Penguins 3
Providence 1 0 0 — 1
Penguins 0 3 0 — 3
Scoring – 1. PRO, Carter Camper 8 (Caron) 7:37. Penalties – WBS, Peters (slashing) 17:18.
Scoring – 2. WBS, Warren Peters 3 (Payerl, Mormina) 6:25. 3. WBS, Riley Holzapfel 3 (Mormina, Merth) 16:50. 4. WBS, Chad Kolarik 4 (Mormina, Gibbons) power play 17:57. Penalties – PRO, Robins (boarding) :20; WBS, Gibbons (slashing) 10:32; PRO, Miller (hooking) 16:43.
Scoring – None. Penalties – WBS, Grant (boarding) 5:34; WBS, Samuelsson (slashing) 14:26.
Shots on goal
Providence – 10-11-11-32
Penguins – 7-9-6-22
Providence – 0 of 4
Penguins – 1 of 2
Providence – Niklas Svedberg 6-3 (19 saves – 22 shots)
Penguins – Brad Thiessen 2-1 (31-32)
Providence – G Niklas Svedberg, D David Warsofsky, D Kevan Miller, LW Justin Florek, C Christian Hanson, RW Bobby Robins
Penguins – G Brad Thiessen, D Joey Mormina, D Alex Grant, LW Zach Sill, C Warren Peters, RW Jayson Megna
1. WBS, Riley Holzapfel (game-winning goal) 2. WBS, Brad Thiessen (32 saves) 3. WBS, Joey Mormina (three assists)
Referee – Chris Ciamaga, Terry Koharski. Linesmen – Jud Ritter, Bob Goodman
Attendance – 3,101