Banged Up


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have been first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference for virtually the entire season. Their depth has given them a strong offensive punch, and the three goalies they’re carrying on the roster are all .910 goalies. Those two factors have allowed them to post a record of 30-12-3.

Even in the face of numerous injuries, the Baby Pens have played with a next man up mindsight that has given them continued success. Below is a breakdown of the injuries this team has faced and how they’ve responded.

G Brandon Bussi - Upper Body Injury - Missed 4 games

With the injury to Bussi, the Penguins signed Jussi Olkinuora, who hadn’t played in North America, to an ATO. This has proven to be a shrewd move, as Olkinuora has put up a 9-2-0 record and a .927 save percentage operating as one of the Baby Pens two regular backups, along with Bussi.

D Santeri Hatakka - Cracked Left Heel - Missed 35 games

Hatakka was one of the extra defensemen for the Baby Pens squad, but his absence was still felt, as he was someone coach Sturm was planning to use in the regular rotation. The return of Knyzhov from his offseason injury, elevated minutes for Leskinen and Garrison, and the acquisition of Mitch Vande Sompel mitigated this loss. Coach Sturm truly feels like his team has nine capable defensemen who can play a regular shift, including Hatakka who has since returned from his injury

Matt Luff - Right Shoulder Injury - Missed 11 games

Luff was part of the Baby Penguins superstar top line which included Jacob Peterson and AJ Greer. Despite the loss, captain Kyle Rau was elevated into that top line right wing spot and has put up 2 goals and 4 assists, which has kept the top line clicking while also giving guys in the bottom of the lineup, like Ryan Fitzgerald, more ice time to show what he can do for this team.

Ben Meyers - Right Foot Injury - Missed 4 games

The loss of Meyers was not as long as the other injuries, but considering Meyers had elevated into the top-line center roll with Peterson’s call up to the NHL, it again created a new problem for Coach Sturm to navigate. Not a problem though, as Tyler Sikura, who has been the Baby Penguins third line center for three years now, was elevated to play in the top-six and pushed his goal scoring streak to five games. 

Pontus Holmberg - Right Knee Injury - Will miss 4 games

Similar to Meyers, the loss of Holmberg, albeit short, has put the Penguins in a position where they are needing to call upon their depth to keep the ship afloat. During this string of injuries, Holmberg shifted around from third line winger to second line winger to second line center to first line center, so his loss was a big one to consider. Another rover player who has been with the team for years, Ryan Fitzgerald, took on this role, putting up four goals in three games while bouncing around the top-six.

It seems as though the injury bug for the Baby Penguins is finally going away, as Hatakka returned in last night’s 5-1 win against the Ice Cats. The Penguins will also get Luff and Meyers back in time for Friday’s game against the Providence Bruins, and Pontus Holmberg is slated to return to action next week against the Phantoms.

As for tonight, the Baby Penguins are once again in action with their “next man up” lineup, facing off against the Hartford Wolfpack and looking for their ninth win in a row.