Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Payback’s a Dea — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

WBS       @       button_lv200

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So this Penguins / Phantoms rivalry is going to be a great one. I’ve been following this team for the better part of five years and haven’t witnessed a regular season game that had such high tension and drama. If there were instant classics in the AHL for games in October, this game, a 2-1 Penguins overtime thriller, certainly would take the cake.

The Phantoms spoiled the party for the Penguins in their home opener two and a half weeks ago. The Penguins dealt the Phantoms their first loss on home ice tonight. J-S Dea had the game winner in overtime.

Matt Murray opposed Rob Zepp tonight. Murray is a rookie appearing in just his fifth pro start. You couldn’t tell tonight. Murray played like a seasoned veteran and kept the Penguins in the game all night long. Murray stopped 42 of 43 shots.

The Penguins may be dealing with more injuries as Reid McNeill left the game blocking a shot on the penalty kill and Derrick Pouliot left the game later when he was checked and tumbled into the boards. It looked almost like a whiplash of sorts.

Wilkes-Barre was 9-for-9 on the penalty kill including several Phantoms 5-on-3s that referees Mike Mullen and David Banfield handed out like Halloween candy.

Lehigh Valley was without its top three defensemen on recall to Philadelphia. Brandon Manning, Mark Alt and Shayne Gotisbehere to name two.

The Penguins scored on a five on three when Derrick Pouliot twirled around in the slot to a wide open Andrew Ebbett who pushed the puck across to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first.

Murray made what was probably the banner save of the night diving across to deny Scott Laughton on a 2-on-1 in the first period.

Then with about five minutes left in the second period, Zack Stortini tied the game at one a piece with a trailing roof shot on Murray as part of a 2-on-1.

The third period felt like it was spent entirely on the penalty kill as the the Penguins were whistled for three infractions. They managed to kill them all with relative ease. What did get to Murray was stopped without much trouble, as Murray didn’t allow many rebounds.

Overtime didn’t stop the penalties. The Phantoms didn’t score on theirs thanks to more big time saves by Murray. The Pens did on theirs after a John Hynes time out.

J-S Dea ended it off of a face off play that came immediately after the timeout.

Three stars were 3) Rob Zepp (30 of 32 saves) 2) Matt Murray (42 of 43 saves) and 1) Zack Stortini (goal, +1)

Binghamton lost to Utica 3-2 in regulation. Hershey and Norfolk were off.

Wilkes-Barre heads to Norfolk Thursday. Hynes did not have an update on the conditions of McNeill and Pouliot after the game and Jayson Megna was recalled to Pittsburgh Thursday morning.

Here are the highlights from last night’s game…

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Lehigh Valley 10/29




Away Game: 5

AHL Game: 103

Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: PPL Center

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Lats Game: Sunday at home vs. Binghamton, the Penguins won 3-2. Andrew Ebbett had a goal and an assist and was named first star of the game. For Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms lost in Hershey to the Bears 3-0.

Last Meeting: The Phantoms beat the Penguins on opening night on October 11 by a score of 5-2. Chris VandeVelde had two goals for the Phantoms and rookies Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary had goals for the Pens in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 4-4-0-0 (8 pts., 3rd place East Division) — For LV: 4-2-0-0 (8 pts., 2nd place East Division)

Why you should care: Tonight is about one thing for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. Payback. The Phantoms embarrassed the Penguins at their home opener nearly three weeks ago. The Penguins want to repay the favor in their maiden voyage to Allentown.

Referee(s): David Banfield / Mike Mullen

Linesmen: Leo Boylan / Jud Ritter

Twitter: @WBSPenguins and @WBSGameDay / @LVPhantoms

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins / /LehighValleyPhantoms

Instagram: wbspenguins / lehighvalleyphantoms

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie and @TLTomVenesky / @gblockus

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For Lehigh Valley: Bob Rotruck @BobRotruck

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For Lehigh Valley: Fox 1470

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: I am going Western Conference tonight with Oklahoma City and Texas. The Barons beat the Stars twice this weekend. Do they pull the trifecta or do the defending champs get one back?

Next Five Games: @ NOR 10/31, @ NOR 11/1, HER 11/7, @ BNG 11/8, SYR 11/9

AHL Power Rankings: Week 3

A pair of Admirals bookend this weeks AHL Power Rankings.

The biggest movers are your Providence Bruins, up sixteen spots after not allowing a single goal this weekend.

The biggest free fall this weekend belongs to your Syracuse Crunch, down thirteen spots.

If you didn’t link in direct, please jump through to see where everyone else ended up this week.

Read more of this post

Politics Makes My Heart Race — Pens WIN 3-2

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Let me know if at the end of this game, a 3-2 Penguins victory, you stood up out of your seat at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza or out of your chair at home or apartment and breathed a sigh of relief.

The Penguins were badly outclassed the night before in Hershey and couldn’t get out of their own way. They soundly beat the fluttering Springfield Falcons Friday night but you just weren’t sure.

With Eric Hartzell back in net for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton today, more uncertainty. Hartzell has been bad in your recent memory, was shipped to Wheeling late last year and wasn’t seen at all when the Penguins went through the Calder Cup Playoffs last Spring.

You weren’t alone. As I got up out of my seat at the Arena, that feeling of a ton of bricks off your shoulders kicked in. Not just for me, but more likely for the man in goal tonight for the Penguins, that being Eric Hartzell.

This past weekend, the Penguins were 2-1. Not the greatest, but better than most.

Wilkes-Barre peppered Binghamton Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond, firing 40 shots at the netminder. They looked sound for a good majority of the game and controlled a great portion of it.

Hartzell, for what it’s worth, looked steady. He got beat twice, one by Chris Wideman as he drove to the slot and whipped a shot past Hartzell’s glove to cut the B-Sens deficit to one late in the first and again in the second, while Binghamton was on the power play. A rebound popped high in the air and was batted in the net legally by Cole Schneider.

The Penguins raced to a 2-0 lead in the first period when Matt Rust powered past a Binghamton defender and fired a shot on net that Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos cashed in on to make it 1-0. Later, on a power play, Derrick Pouliot would score his first professional goal to extend the lead to 2-0.

The Penguins were furious in the third period, outshooting Binghamton 16-5. Andrew Ebbett was camped out on Hammon’ds crease and popped home a rebound of his own shot to extend the lead to 3-2.

Wilkes-Barre had to kill a late Binghamton penalty with Adam Payerl in the box for interference on the goaltender. The B-Sens hit the post on the power play but never found the equalizing goal.

Bobby Farnham served his one-game suspension from his instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the Hershey game Saturday night. This topic was well covered here, so no need to rehash any of that.

Nick Drazenovic did not play either, he is week to week with a lower body injury, per Tom Venesky.

Essentially it was Adam Payerl and Anton Zlobin in for Farnham and Drazenovic.

Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (goal) 2) Derrick Pouliot (goal, assist) and 1) Andrew Ebbett (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: The Hershey Bears defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-0. Norfolk was shutout in Hartford, 3-0. That is the second shutout the Admrials have suffered this weekend.

Standings: Hershey 10 — Lehigh Valley 8 — Penguins 8 – Binghamton 6 — Norfolk 4

Conference: 1) ALB (11) 2) HER (10) 3) WOR (9) 4) PRO (9) 5) HFD (9) 6) BRI (9) 7) STJ (9) 8) LV (8) 9) WBS (8)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off. They are in Reading Thursday.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

My Power Rankings hit the blog tomorrow at 4. I will have the Charts refresh Tuesday too. Pens travel to Allentown for the first time ever when they take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Wednesday.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Binghamton 10/26




Home Game: 4

AHL Game: 98

Who: Binghamton Senators

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 4:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Hershey, the Pens lost 4-1. Jayson Megna had the only goal for the Pens in the loss. For Binghamton, they hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and lost in overtime 5-4. Derek Grant had two goals for the B-Sens late, which forced the game into overtime for Binghamton.

Record: For WBS: 3-4-0-0 (6 pts., 4th place East Division) — For BNG: 2-2-2-0 (6 pts., 3rd place East Division)

Why you should care: Pens look to close out the weekend on a wining note after last nights setback in Hershey. The Binghamton Senators, ahem, the defending East Division Champion Binghamton Senators, stand in their way.

Referee(s): Ryan Fraser / Ryan Murphy

Linesmen: Leo Boylan / Francis Trempe

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @BSens_Hockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: wbspenguins / bsens_hockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @TLTomVenesky // @PSBSens

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For BNG: Grady Whittenburg @BSensRadio

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Binghamton: Oldies 96.9

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): None

Other Game to Watch: Let’s go with Worcester hosting Portland. The Sharks have been hot of late and the Pirates have been struggling.

Next Five Games: @ LV 10/29, @ NOR 10/31, @ NOR 11/1, HER 11/7, @ BNG 11/8

VIDEO: Farnham the Instigator, Or is He?

I went back and looked at the AHL Live video of the incident that led to the Bobby Farnham instigator penalty from tonight’s 4-1 loss in Hershey which will result in an automatic one game suspension tomorrow vs. Binghamton and, well, you be the judge…


Here’s the direct link to the video, in case it doesn’t load on your iPad, or other mobile device.

Apologies for the misspelling of “Farnham” there.

Anyway, a couple of things:

1) Bobby Farnham does his best to avoid Philipp Grubauer and does.
2) Steve Oleksy from Hershey initiates contact with Farnham and then gets tied up with Dominik Uher.
3) Farnham then goes out of the picture and has. “somebody all over him” per the words of Bears play-by-play man Scott Stuccio.

After that, since I was not at the game, we are left to draw our own conclusions. If you were at the game and saw what happened with Farnham, let me know in the comments.

Power Failure — Pens LOSE 4-1

WBS        @       HER

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The Penguins lost this game, a 4-1 setback to the Hershey Bears, by way of special teams. Plain and simple.

The Hershey Bears go 3-for-9 on the power play tonight, and that was your ballgame. The Penguins were 0-for-5 on the power play themselves. No need to read anymore or get upset over the struggling Penguins losing another game or to place blame. But, since you are already here, may as well stay for the story, right?

Matt Murray vs. Philipp Grubauer

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Nick Drazenovic – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – Andrew Ebbett – Jayson Megna
Dominik Uher – Zack Torquato – Bryan Rust
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Derrick Pouliot – Philip Samuelsson
Reid McNeill – Scott Harrington

Matt Murray – Eric Hartzell

So essentially Matia Marcantuoni and Pierre Leblond for J-S Dea and Anton Zlobin.

First Period: Grubauer and Murray trade early big saves. Pens get a power play but don’t score. Bears get a power play and do. A diving Uher clear banks in off of Tim Kennedy and in. Then, :40 later, a Dane Byers pass ticketed for Chandler Stephenson hits a sliding Brian Dumoulin and in for a 2-0 Bears lead. Pens never established anything after that.

Second Period: :24 in, Jayson Megna scores to cut the Hershey deficit to one on a nice Andrew Ebbett pass of the Grubauer pads play. Pens get another power play immediately after the Megna goal but fail to cash. The Penguins would continue to pressure but would not crack Grubauer. Casey Wellman would score on a Bears power play to make it 3-1. Later, Dustin Gazley would get hooked down by Brian Dumoulin and cash on the penalty shot to make it 4-1.

Third Period: Bears don’t manage a single shot on goal for about fifteen minutes in, but they weren’t focused on tacking on more goals as much as they we’re about stopping any kinds of a comeback by Wilkes-Barre. The Bears let three quick goals get scored on them late yesterday against the Phantoms and lost a game that they otherwise controlled. The strategy worked and the Penguins didn’t get any closer.

Note: Nick Drazenovic did not finish the game. Tom Venesky of The Times Leader made mention that Drazenovic had been skating gingerly all night long. I saw on the AHL Live feed Drazenovic get hooked down on a face-off in the first period and he really wasn’t the same since. He did try to comeback in the second period but was not out for the third. Hynes told Venesky post game that Drazenovic will be evaluated on the bus ride back and they will know more tomorrow.

Also, Bobby Farnham was assessed an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of the game, which carries an automatic one game suspension. From the AHL Rule Book…

46.12 Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) – A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty, subject to the conditions outlined in 46.22.

46.22 Fines and Suspensions – Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) – A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime (see 46.12), shall automatically be suspended for one game. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. This suspension shall be served in addition to any other automatic suspensions a player may incur for an accumulation of three or more instigator penalties.

When the one-game suspension is imposed, the player’s Coach and Club shall each be fined five hundred dollars ($500) – a fine that will double for each subsequent incident.

So, it’s a $1,000 fine, and if Farnham pulls these tactics again, the suspension and fine double. Farnham will be unavailable tomorrow vs. Binghamton.

I posted video on the Farnham incident one post up. Take a look if you are linked in direct, or just scroll up or find your computer’s “up” arrow.

Three Stars: 3) Dane Byers (goal, +1) 2) Philipp Grubauer (26 saves on 27 shots) 1) Tomas Kundratek (three assists)

Around the Division: Binghamton gets two late goals real quick to force overtime against Lehigh Valley but ultimately lose in overtime, 5-4. Phantoms are looking like the real deal early….Norfolk loses 6-3 to Springfield, ex-Penguin Brian Gibbons was named first star of the game with a goal and an assist.

Standings: Lehigh Valley 8 — Hershey 8 — Binghamton 6 — Penguin 6 – Norfolk 4

Conference: 1) ALB (11) 2) PRO (9) 3) LV (8) 4) STJ (9) 5) HER (8) 6) WOR (7) 7) HFD (7) 8) SYR (7) 12) WBS (6)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers rebound from last nights 5-0 loss to Gwinnett with a 5-1 win in South Carolina against the Stingrays.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Pens are at it again tomorrow against Binghamton. Gameday for this will post to the blog at noon, with game action coming at you at 4 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!


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