The influx of talent recently has started to show itself for the Williamsport Outlaws.
In his first game with the team, Kevin Cooper scored a power play goal and assisted on another. Jeff Winchester, who has only played in six games, has tallied three goals and seven assists.
Cooper also earned his second assist Tuesday against 1000 Islands when he pushed a pass through to Trevor Karasiewicz, who then found Winchester's stick for the team's second power play goal.
Winchester's effort was the dagger as Williamsport took advantage of a lackluster 1000 Islands showing to win, 3-0 at Airmen Pond at Bowman Field. The win gave the Outlaws five wins in their last six home games.
"It feels great, I love helping the team win," Cooper said. "Adding a goal really helps, but the biggest thing for us was the 3-0 win. (Chris) Whitley played great and we got a great defensive effort from front to back."
Whitley proved to be up for the challenge, building on his 29-save performance from his last meeting with 1000 Islands. Whitley, who stopped 16 shots through two periods, had one of his biggest save of the year Brent Tamane sent a whistling shot in on his glove hand. The Outlaws keeper quickly snagged the attempt and held it to reset play.
Whitley entered having stopped 81 of 90 shots against the Privateers. Through two periods of Tuesday's game he held 1000 Islands scoreless.
"I knew we had to come up big tonight after giving away three points the last time out," Whitley said. "We have this team three times this week and we knew we had to come out and set the tone early."
Whitley only needed eight stops in the final period as the Outlaws put together one of their strongest defensive efforts of the season.
"This was probably the most complete game we've played all year," Outlaws coach Chris Firriolo said. "From the drop of the puck to the final buzzer we played a complete game. We didn't really make too many mistakes. When you don't make mistakes it's really hard for the other team to capitalize."
The Outlaws put 10 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, compared to 1000 Islands which only put six shots on target. The Outlaws, though, went 0-for-2 on the power play, but managed to kill two off.
"The first period I just was getting my legs under me," Cooper said. "We were playing a good team tonight and it feels good to get out there and play some hockey."
Cooper, making his Outlaws debut, was called at the six minute mark for hooking. Cooper was part of last year's championship squad and was called back to bring some more experience to Williamsport.
"Kevin Cooper back in the line-up is really big for us," Firriolo said. "He's just a seasoned vet and sees the ice well. He's just a great hockey player."
The move paid immediate dividends for the Outlaws. In the last three minutes of the second period, Cooper took a Winchester pass and put it through the defense for a one-goal Outlaws advantage. Mike MacIntyre earned the secondary assists on the play.
"The biggest thing on a power play and what we talked about we just getting pucks on the net," Cooper said. "We have some big guys that can stand in front, so we might as well use them."
The power play was setup when James Gordon was called for holding.
"It's always nice when we have the lead," Whitley said. "It's a little more comfortable, because you know if something goes in you're just going to be square."
Williamsport entered the game going 1-for-11 on the power play in its last three games. The Outlaws finished the night converting two of seven power play attempts.
"It was a pretty easy goal on an open net," Cooper said. "It's just from the hard work in front of the net and getting the puck to the net."
Tuesday was the fourth contest between Williamsport and 1000 Islands. The Privateers took the first two meetings, with the Outlaws winning the most recent, 3-1, at Airmen Pond.
"It was a great effort I thought all 18 guys played well," Firriolo said.
Notes: Matt Smyth's point streak came to an end after the league decided to take away his assist vs. Danville last Saturday. Smyth ended Tuesday's game without a point.