WILKES-BARRE — Gage Quinney has established himself as a relatively consistent point-producer during his rookie season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
After scoring a goal in each of the first three games of the season, Quinney settled in to produce six goals and 14 points over his next 30 contests while focusing on his development as a two-way center.
Still, when Quinney scored in the second period of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 3-1 win at Springfield last Wednesday, the tally erased a bothersome seven-game goal-less drought.
“It felt pretty good,” Quinney said after Wednesday’s practice at the Toyota Sportsplex. “You do start thinking about the drought a bit.”
Quinney also thought about what it takes to snap the scoreless streak and the answer was obvious.
During the seven games without a goal, Quinney totaled 10 shots. Over the three games last week when he scored twice, he shot the puck 11 times.
“I need to shoot a lot more. Instead of passing up shots, I need to take them instead,” he said. “I don’t think there’s ever a bad shot.”
Goal production has been a key to Quinney’s game at multiple levels. During his last season in juniors in the Western Hockey League, he scored 29 goals in 53 games. As a rookie last year in Wheeling, Quinney was fourth on the Nailers with 18 goals in 45 games.
But at the AHL level, scoring goals isn’t the only thing expected of Quinney. Sure, seeing him find the back of the net is nice, but head coach Clark Donatelli said there’s more.
“He does a lot of subtle things out there and he’s always creating quality scoring chances,” Donatelli said. “Sure, we want him to shoot more. We want everyone shooting the puck more. But it’s also about getting to those important areas and winning battles.”
• The Penguins traded Colin Smith on Wednesday to the Stockton Heat for forward Joseph Cramarossa.
Cramarossa is a fifth-year pro who skated in 59 in National Hockey League games last season for the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks. During his time in the NHL, Cramarossa racked up four goals and six assists for 10 points. The Toronto native was in his first season with Stockton and accrued 10 points (3G-7A) in 37 games so far in 2017-18.
Cramarossa, 25, has played 201 career games in the American Hockey League. He has 20 goals, 21 assists, 41 points and 241 penalty minutes in that time. He was originally drafted by Anaheim in the third round (65th overall) in 2011 after playing for the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in the Memorial Cup. He wrapped up his junior hockey career with 139 points (51G-87A) in 235 games spent with Mississauga and the Belleville Bulls.
Smith leaves the Penguins having notched five goals and 13 assists for 18 total points over the course of 35 games.
• The Penguins gained four out of a possible six points during a three-game road trip last week. Perhaps the most inspiring win was a 3-2 shootout victory over Providence on Feb. 11. The Penguins were shut out by the Bruins two days earlier, and they fell behind 2-0 in the first period of the rematch before mounting a comeback.
“The first game, they took it to us and the start of the second game we were sluggish until the veteran guys got a hold of the room and we turned it around,” Quinney said. “It showed that we can play through adversity, and that will help us moving forward.”
• Tom Sestito participated in practice but is still week-to-week. He won’t return this weekend, but Donatelli said he’s possible to come back the following week. Tom Kostopoulos and Michael Leighton remain out for this weekend.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky