The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins once again lost their starting goaltender shortly before a game. Ryan Haggerty and the offense made sure it didn’t matter.
Haggerty recorded a hat trick in a four-point night as the Penguins blew open Friday’s game at Belleville in the third period to earn a 6-2 win, the team’s sixth straight victory.
Thanks to losses by Providence and Lehigh Valley on Friday, the Penguins (22-10-2-1) moved into a tie with both teams atop the Atlantic Division with 47 points each, continuing their resurgence from a December swoon.
A six-day break in between games didn’t hurt Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, nor did goalie Casey DeSmith getting an unexpected call-up to Pittsburgh earlier in the day when Matt Murray left the team for personal reasons.
Anthony Peters got the start in net with Adam Morrison returning on another professional tryout agreement to back him up. Peters only faced 20 shots, stopping 18 for the win.
But it was Haggerty who stole the show.
The Penguins winger opened the scoring in all three periods to give him 16 goals on the season, second on the team behind Daniel Sprong, who is now up in Pittsburgh.
Olympian Christian Thomas scored what proved to be the game-winner in the second period while Garrett Wilson and Jean-Sebastien Dea tallied in the third, with Dea sealing it up with an empty-netter.
Andrey Pedan, Kevin Czuczman and Zach Aston-Reese all added two assists apiece for the Penguins, who have now scored 26 goals during their winning streak.
Prized Ottawa Senators prospect Colin White scored both goals for Belleville.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton heads from Ontario to Quebec for Saturday’s game as the Penguins face the Laval Rocket at 4 p.m. to close out the weekend road trip.