Palazzese Pitches First Pro Shutout in 5-0 Win

Franky Palazzese backstopped the win with a perfect performance for Wheeling, denying all 26 shots he faced.  Photo Credit - Wheeling Nailers

Franky Palazzese backstopped the win with a perfect performance for Wheeling, denying all 26 shots he faced.
Photo Credit – Wheeling Nailers

Franky Palazzese has been playing some fabulous hockey in goal for the Wheeling Nailers as of late, and on Tuesday night, his efforts came through in a big way. The rookie goaltender stopped all 26 shots he faced, earning his first professional shutout. Palazzese’s teammates gave him plenty of support, as five different players lit the lamp in a 5-0 stomping of the Elmira Jackals at WesBanco Arena.

For the second straight night, the Nailers had a strong start, pounding their way to a 2-0 lead with offensive talent and physical play. The first goal came at the 11:46 mark, off of a rush by Shawn Skelly. Riley Brace slipped a pass into the left circle for Jarrett Burton, who stepped up and drove a one-timer into the top-right corner of the net. 3:36 later, Wheeling added to its advantage, shortly after killing a penalty. Brace broke in on a 2-on-1 rush with Burton, keeping the puck to himself, before snapping a shot past Travis Fullerton’s blocker.

Unlike Monday, this game script had a happy ending for the home team, who added to its lead with two more goals in the second period. Zack Torquato trickled a shot through Fullerton’s legs at the 4:57 mark, drawing assists from Derek Army and Clark Seymour, as Seymour registered his first multiple point game of the campaign. Just before the midway mark of the frame, Tyler Fernandez upped the advantage to four, when he picked the top-right corner with a perfectly placed shot from the left circle. That tally ended Fullerton’s night, as Sam Marotta played the remaining 30:37.

The Nailers solved Marotta once in the third period, as Chaz Johnson slid in a shot from the middle of the slot. Shane Bakker set up the goal, picking up an assist in his first game back from the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Franky Palazzese backstopped the win with a perfect performance for Wheeling, denying all 26 shots he faced. Travis Fullerton was the losing goaltender for Elmira, allowing four goals on 14 shots, before Sam Marotta stopped 11 of 12 shots in relief.

The Nailers will play their next three games on the road, starting Saturday night in Indy at 7:35. Wheeling’s next home game takes place on March 13th against Kalamazoo at 7:35.

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Ruopp & Dea Back To WBS Penguins

It was announced this afternoon that the Pittsburgh Penguins have assigned forward Jean-Sebastien Dea and defenseman Harrison Ruopp to the WBS Penguins from the Wheeling Nailers.

Dea, 21, has skated in 37 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, amassing nine goals, 10 assists and 14 penalty minutes.  Currently in his first professional season, Dea has also posted four goals and two assists over 12 contests with Wheeling.

Dea set career highs in 2013-14 with 49 goals for Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League –fourth most in the league – and ranked second on the team with 75 points.  In three seasons with the Huskies, Dea totaled 192 points (111G-81A) over 183 contests.

A second-year pro from Zehner, Saskatchewan, Ruopp has registered one assist and 53 penalty minutes over 27 matches with the Nailers and also appeared in two games this season for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The 21-year-old compiled 34 penalty minutes in 21 games with the Penguins last season, while recording three assists and 42 PIM in 19 games for Wheeling.

Originally selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the third round (84th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft, Ruopp was acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 22, 2012.

The Penguins continue their six-game road stretch on Friday, Mar. 6 as they face the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m.

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Penguins’ Murray Named CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, in conjunction with the American Hockey League announced today that Matt Murray has been selected as the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for February.

Murray allowed only one goal on 110 shots during February, posting a 0.25 goals-against average, a .991 save percentage and three shutouts.

Murray drew the start vs. Springfield on Feb. 3 and stopped all 28 Falcons shots to backstop the Penguins to a 4-0 victory. In his next outing at Bridgeport on Feb. 8, Murray denied 36 of 37 chances, allowing only a 5-on-3 power-play goal late in the third period as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won, 3-1. On Feb. 13 vs. Portland, Murray made 23 saves in a 3-0 Penguins victory, and he was perfect again in a 2-0 win over Providence on Feb. 21, stopping all 22 shots he faced.

After beginning March with a third consecutive shutout – his fifth in his last seven starts – Murray now owns a record of 16-8-2 in 28 appearances for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, leading the AHL in goals-against average (1.65), save percentage (.936) and shutouts (eight).  With his eight shutout this season, Murray broke the team mark set by Brad Thiessen in 2010-11.  A third-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2012, the 20-year-old rookie from Thunder Bay, Ont., played four junior seasons at Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) before making his professional debut with Wilkes-Barre at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.

Murray becomes the tenth Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender to earn this honor, joining Sebastien Caron (2000), Marc-Andre Fleury (2005), Dany Sabourin (2006), Nolan Schaeffer (2007) John Curry (2007 & 2010), Brad Thiessen (2010, 2011 & 2013), Jeff Zatkoff (2012), Eric Hartzell (2014) and Peter Mannino (2014).

In recognition of his achievement, Murray will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Penguins home game.

The Penguins continue their six-game road stretch on Friday, Mar. 6 as they face the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m.

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Penguins Trade Despres For Lovejoy

It was announced today that the Pittsburgh Penguins have traded Simon Desprers for Ben Lovejoy. Lovejoy no stranger to the Penguins, helped Pittsburgh’s minor-league affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, reach the 2008 Calder Cup Final, contributing 10 points (2G-8A) in 23 playoff contests.

Lovejoy is signed through the 2015-16 season.

Lovejoy, 31, returns to Pittsburgh for his second tour of duty after playing 98 games with the Penguins from 2008-13, when he tallied four goals, 21 assists and 25 points. He added two assists in nine playoff games.

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound Lovejoy has 11 points (1G-10A) and is plus-3 while averaging 18:33 minutes in 40 games with the Ducks this season.

Last year the Concord, New Hampshire native established career highs with five goals, 18 points and a plus-21 in 78 games with the Ducks. His 215 hits led the Ducks and his 150 blocked shots placed second. He added two goals in 13 playoff contests.

Originally signed by the Penguins as an undrafted free agent, Lovejoy has skated in 248 career NHL games with Pittsburgh and Anaheim, registering 10 goals, 54 assists, 64 points and a plus-50. He has been a plus player in each of his five full NHL seasons.

Lovejoy played four years of college hockey at Boston College and Dartmouth between 2002-07.

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Penguins Trade Bortuzzo for Cole and 2016 7th Round Draft Pick

It was announced today that the Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired defenseman Ian Cole from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Robert Bortuzzo and a 2016 seventh-round draft pick, this announcement was made by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Cole, 26, has played in 54 games with the Blues this season, notching nine points (4G-5A) and posting a plus-16. His plus-16 ranked third on St. Louis and second among team blueliners. Only Paul Martin (+20) has a higher total among Penguins players.

Last season the 6-foot-1, 219-pound blueliner established career highs with eight assists and 11 points with a plus-15 in 46 games during his first full NHL season with the Blues.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan native was originally drafted by the Blues in the first round (18th overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft. Cole has 31 points (9G-22A) and is plus-40 in 167 career regular-season games. He suited up for two NHL playoff games with the Blues in 2011-12.

Cole played three seasons of college hockey at Notre Dame, where he was named a NCAA West All-American in 2009, becoming the first Fighting Irish player in 10 years to earn that distinction.

Cole played two years in the United States National Team Development Program (NTDP) from 2005-07. He helped the Americans win a silver medal at the 2007 World Under-18 Championship. Cole was voted one of the United States’ ‘Top-Three Players’ at the tournament after leading all blueliners with four goals.

Cole suited up for the United States at the 2008 and ’09 World Junior Championships.


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Boak To Wheeling From WBS

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins today announced that defenseman Alex Boak has been returned on loan to the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL).

Boak has played in 22 games for the Penguins, recording one goal, three assists and 49 penalty minutes. The 25-year old rookie from Norwood, NY has also appeared in six contests this season for the Nailers.

Boak totaled seven goals, 24 assists and 357 penalty minutes over 148 games with Clarkson University from 2010-14. He went on to make his pro debut last spring with Wheeling, where he skated in eight games and recorded 24 penalty minutes.

The Penguins continue their six-game road stretch on Friday, Mar. 6 as they face the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m.

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Murray Gets 8th Shutout Penguins Tromp Sound Tigers

WBS had a little pressure from the Sound Tigers in the opening minutes of tonight’s game but it wasn’t anything that the Pens could not handle. Bobby Farham and Brett Gallant did a little dance early on after a hit on Marcantuoni not much of anything but a nice step up by Farnham, as he always does

The WBS Penguins would be the first to get on the boards as Tommy Kuhnhackl scores on the power play making it a one to none game just 8:23 into this afternoon’s game. Josh Archibald would get the Penguins second of the game just six minutes later as he finishes up what Jayson Megna started the Penguins now up 2-0 over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

That’s where things would sit at the end of one the WBS Penguins taking a nice two goal lead but looking at forty more minutes of hockey to play.

Jayson Megna would get things started for the WBS Penguins in the second period netting the Penguins third of the game just 2:23 into the period WBS now leading 3-0. The Sound Tigers tried to pressure and mount some offense but they just could not find the right combination to the vault door that Matt Murray had on the Penguins net, WBS seemed to be the dominant team on the ice.

Bryan Dumoulin would put the Penguins up 4-0 on a power play goal just past the midway point of the game really giving the Sound Tigers something to think about. That would be all for the second the Penguins scoring two more goals Matt Murray going yet another scoreless period and just 20 more minutes of hockey left in regulation.

Scott Wilson beat Jayson Megna’s mark of 2:23 netting the WBS Penguins fifth goal just 2:22 into the third giving the Penguins a nice 5 goal buffer. The Sound Tigers seemed to be self destructing and the WBS Penguins would take full advantage of the power plays.

Andrew Ebbett would make it a 6-0 game just over twelve minutes into the third on the Penguins power play. Just under a minute later Josh Archibald would put the candle on the cake and light it netting the Penguins seventh and final goal of the night again on the Penguins power play making it now 7-0 WBS Penguins

If Matt Murray could hold on for seven plus minutes after the Penguins last goal he would get his 8th shutout of the season, and hold on he does. Matt Murray gets his eighth league leading shutout of the season setting a new WBS Penguins Team SO record held by Brad Thiessen in the 2010-2011 season of 7 SO. Matt Murray is having a great year and in my opinion should be in the running for Goaltender of the Year

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