WB/S Pens Weekly Report - 2/23
Last season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton squad with the likes of Tim Brent, Kurtis McLean, Nathan Smith, and Ryan Stone led the team on a nine-game winning streak in mid-to-late March.
This season, promising prospects notably Luca Caputi, Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu, Ben Lovejoy, alongside AHL-veterans Jeff Taffe, Connor James, and Finnish sensation Janne Pesonen have accomplished the same task.
But when both teams attempted to go for the franchise-record 10th win in a row, the result was concurrent.
In 2007-2008, the Penguins lost at home against Albany 4-3 in a shootout. Chris Minard, Alex Goligoski, and Dave Gove tallied goals.
Last night in Hamilton, the Pens fell to the Bulldogs by a final score of 4-1.
The loan goal was scored by Aaron Boogaard, who has been in and out of the line-up due to an abundance of forward depth and minor injuries. It was the 2nd of the rookie’s AHL season. John Curry was in net for both games, allowing exactly three goals each time (Hamilton’s fourth goal was an empty net goal and doesn’t count against Curry’s average, but instead the team’s average).
Letestu has been riding a surprising trail thus far. This season, he was thrust into a scoring-type role and given ample time on the powerplay, and he has blossomed into the most improved prospect on the roster.
In training camp and preseason, he finished up working on his faceoff abilities and he learned how he can literally “cheat to win” in the circle. His faceoff percentage has gone up, he has been more physical, and that goes without mentioning his offensive statistics.
After beginning last season on a short 6-game stint in Wheeling, Letestu was promoted to the American League, where he found himself dwelling on the fourth line alongside Dennis Bonvie and Paul Bissonnette. In a checking role, over 52 games he posted 18 points (6 g, 12 a), and 28 penalty minutes.
Currently, this season in 49 games he has earned 37 points (16 g, 21 a). Due to his excellent discipline, he only has 6 PIMs this year. Three minor penalties as a forward isn’t something you see everyday.
I believe that if Letestu continues his path of success, he could become a fourth line center and act as a faceoff specialist a la Mike Zigomanis.
The injured Dave Gove acted as a replacement assistant coach under Todd Reirden last game. Today, it was announced that Chris Cichocki has been hired as the new interim assistant coach.
He has coached over 500 ECHL games, and has both NHL and AHL playing experience. For more, check out the always insightful Penguins Insider blog written by Jonathan Bombulie.