Chirps from Center Ice

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

Rat Pack – Pens WIN 3-1

WBS          @          button_hfd200

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This was a road game, so in these instances, I like to write the game story for the blog as the game goes on to make it easier on me sitting in front of a computer for two and a half hours. So I wrote this in the first period recap that I am bringing up here in the lede.

The thing about Kael Mouillierat as a Penguin is that it’s a love / hate relationship. You love the fact that he has ten points in his last eight games with leading scorers Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson up in Pittsburgh, but you hate watching a skilled player like him take a penalty nearly every game.

Mouillierat had a goal and an assist in this contest, giving the Penguins forward ten points in his last eight games and his sixth multi point game as a Penguin. He takes a ton of penalties but evens it out with getting his name on the point sheet.

Oh, by the way, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins won the game 3-1 and have won two of their last three with an ECHL heavy lineup against quality opponents.

It was Matt Murray vs. Magnus Hellberg.

Lines were…

Josh Archibald – Kael Mouillierat – Derek Army
Anton Zlobin – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Ty Loney – Sahir Gill – John McCarron
Tom Sestito – Jarrett Burton – Tyler Biggs

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Niclas Andersen – Harrison Ruopp
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: The Penguins sent goaltender Brian Foster to Wheeling earlier today. Tyler Biggs was back in the lineup after missing the last 25 games. Harrison Ruopp was back in the lineup since January 24, he replaced Clark Seymour. Tyler Biggs replaced Patrick McGrath on the fourth line and Sahir Gill replaced J-S Dea as Dea missed the game with an illness. Dea was the lone Penguin to have skated in every single game this season.

I decided to do somethings different here with this recap. If you linked in direct, you are good, read on. If you didn’t hit the jump to see the rest of the story. The reason for this change is that I added and embedded a lot of video highlights in the recap to make it visually appealing to you, the reader, even though the videos produced from my mother’s basement are amateurish in nature…

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GAMEDAY: @ Hartford 2/12

@     hfd

Away Game: 25

AHL Game: 703

Who: Hartford Wolf Pack

Where: XL Center

When: 7:15 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Tuesday in Utica, the Penguins won 4-3 in overtime. Carter Rowney scored the overtime game winning goal for the Penguins. For Hartford, the Wolf Pack were shutout by the Albany Devils by a score of 3-0 last Saturday in New York.

Last Meeting: January 27 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens lost 3-1. Magnus Hellberg stopped 27 of 28 shots; Jayson Megna had a goal and an assist. Niclas Andersen scored the only goal for the Penguins.

Record: For WBS: 31-14-1-1 (64 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For HFD: 24-21-2-0 (50 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: Penguins looked good Tuesday in Utica then for whatever reason the 3-0 lead that they had evaporated. That was probably a sticking point in practice this week. Look for the Pens to, if they get the lead, that they keep the lead.

Referee(s): Terry Koharski / Furman South

Linesmen: Frank Murphy / Paul Simeon

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WolfPackAHL

Facebook:  /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /HartfordWolfPack

Instagram: wbspenguins / hartford_wolfpack

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TLTomVenesky / @HowlingsToday

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For HFD: Bob Crawford / @HawkCrawford

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Hartford: Fox Sports Radio 1410

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Hershey and Providence are the two hottest teams in the division and they are set to do battle tonight in Rhode Island.

Next Five Games: POR 2/13, POR 2/14, @ TOR 2/19, @ RCH 2/21, HER 2/23

211 in the 315 — Pens WIN 4-3 (OT)

HER          @          button_uti200

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911 what is your emergency?

Yes, I would like to report a robbery.

What is your location?

Utica, New York

Go ahead sir.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, badly out played and outshot 37-25 against a Utica Comets team that won four in a row coming into this Tuesday night contest defeat the Comets by a score of 4-3. The Penguins dressed the same lineup from Saturday, the same lineup that lost to a Bridgeport Sound Tigers side 3-2, on home ice but still managed a way to steal two points from out of Utica tonight.

If you watched this game, the Penguins capitalized on their offensive opportunities and were up 3-0 at one point in the game but the Utica Comets, dressing a full AHL lineup, were too good and pressured the ECHL heavy Penguins lineup and eventually tie the game 3-3 but a 34 save performance from Matt Murray and Carter Rowney’s overtime heroics again, this time :33 seconds in, give the Penguins the victory.

Lines were…

Ty Loney – Kael Mouillierat – Josh Archibald
Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Derek Army
Anton Zlobin – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
John McCarron – Jarrett Burton – Patrick McGrath

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Clark Seymour – Niclas Andersen
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill

Matt Murray – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: As stated in the lede there were no changes up front. Only Clark Seymour was in for Ryan Parent on the Penguins blue line.

First Period: Pens started out with attempts by Tom Sestito on the door step of Bachman and two mini breakaways by Josh Archibald and Kael Mouillierat but the Utica netminder denied all comings. Then the Comets turned it up on Murray and the Penguins defenders with lots of offensive zone time and pumping shots at the net of the Penguins goaltender.

But the Penguins fourth line of McGrath / Mccarran and Burton cycled a puck and forced an offensive zone face-off to Bachman’s right. J-S Dea won the face-off back to Reid McNeill who pumped a shot at Bachman. Bachman left a big rebound to Derek Army who scored his first as a Penguin:

Utica came out ablaze again and nearly scored on this nice tic tac toe play but Murray was strong:

Penguins went on the first of two power plays in the period. Josh Archibald hit a post like he so often does, occasionally:

Utica applied for pretty much the entire first period the basketball version of a full court press. The Penguins weren’t able to exit the zone and it led to a few turnovers but Murray was up to task.

Utica took a penalty with under a minute to play and Kael Mouillierat scored to make it 2-0 Penguins:

J-S Dea won that face-off too.

Second Period: Tale of two halves this period.

Derek Army added his second goal of the game when Tom Sestito forechecked Bachman playing a puck out of his crease. The turnover that ensured spilled right to Army who scored his second of the game:

Here is another (better) view of the Army goal.

Comets began the comeback. A turnover by Anton Zlobin caused by Wacey Hamilton saw Chris Higgins wrap around a puck around the net and in for a 3-1 Penguin lead:

The Comets stuck to the game plan and the Penguins never adjusted and Jordan Subban scored to cut the deficit to one:

So again, a tale of two halves for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Janus Penguins.*

Third Period: Clark Donatelli benched Ty Loney, Anton Zlobin and Patrick McGrath in the third period. Penguins collectively as a team were outshot 10-3 in the period; and Brendan Gaunce eventually tied the game with this sequence:

That was three unanswered goals by the Utica Comets. Pens hung on, killed two Utica penalties and forced…

Overtime: :33 in, Carter Rowney dispossessed Richard Bachman and scored to win the game…

I honestly don’t know if the Penguins were lucky, the Comets just too unlucky digging out of a 0-3 hole (like the Penguins Saturday against Bridgeport) or what. Utica is as a good team that is playoff bound in my opinion. If this lineup is going to be like this for a while, there is no reason to believe otherwise that Donatelli and Associate Coach Jay Leach can’t make necessary adjustments to ensure that when this Penguins team as constructed gets a lead, they keep the lead.

Three Stars: 3) Carter Bancks (two assists, +1) 2) Carter Rowney (game winning overtime goal, even) and 1) Derek Army (two goals, +1)

Around the Division: Providence beat Albany 3-2. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Penguins (.681 points percentage) — Hershey (.643) — Portland (.589) — Providence (.574) — Bridgeport (.564) — Hartford (.532) — Lehigh Valley (.490) — Springfield (.457)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

Pens are back on the road again Friday against Hartford. If there is news to blog about between now and then, I’ll have it here. If not then the next update will be the 3 o’clock Friday Gameday setup against the Wolf Pack.

Let’s Go Pens!

* – if you didn’t get the reference

GAMEDAY: @ Utica 2/9

@     uti14_200

Away Game: 24

AHL Game: 694

Who: Utica Comets

Where: Utica Memorial Auditorium

When: 7:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Saturday at home against Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins were defeated by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3-2. Carter Rowney scored both goals. For Utica, the Comets won in overtime in just five seconds off of the stick of Brandon Gaunce and beat the St. John’s IceCaps.

Last Meeting: January 9 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens won 4-2. Scott Wilson had two goals and an assist.

Record: For WBS: 30-14-1-1 (62 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For UTI: 22-17-3-3 (50 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Why you should care: Scott Wilson isn’t walking through that door tonight, neither is Conor Sheary. Dominik Simon is hurt. Those are your top three Penguins scorers out of the lineup for one reason or another tonight so the Penguins, as they have had to these last few games, will need to find scoring from a role player if they want to beat the Comets tonight, who have won four in a row.

Referee(s): Geno Binda / Peter MacDougall

Linesmen: Francois Dussureault / Kory Nagy

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @UticaComets / @CometsInGame

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /UticaComets

Instagram: wbspenguins / uticacomets

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TLTomVenesky / @CometsTales and @OD_Birnell

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / UTI: Brendan Burke @brendanmburke

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @CometsArmy

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For Utica: 94.9 K-Rock

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: I like Albany vs. Providence tonight. The P-Bruins have the AHL’s longest point streak and the Devils are a sneaky good team.

Next Five Games: @ HFD 2/12, POR 2/13, POR 2/14, @ TOR 2/19, @ RCH 2/21

AHL Power Rankings: Week 18

We are in Week 18 here and almost to the middle of February. There are sure thing teams like Toronto and Ontario and then a patch of about 20 or so teams then teams that may as well pack it up and restructure for the Fall.

The Toronto Marlies are again the number one team here in Week 18.

As we have maintained for pretty much all season, the Central Division is the Division to watch. The Atlantic is getting cozy as well with the Hershey Bears closing in on the Atlantic Division lead, a lead that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have had since October.

Lots more to look at this week, so if you didn’t link in direct, hit the jump to see where everyone ended up this week.

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Tigers Dig Deep Holes — Pens LOSE 3-2

BRI         vs.         WBS

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Understaffed is the wrong word for this one. So is undermanned. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins skated with a full contingent of players tonight in a 3-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Pink in the Rink Night.

Inexperienced is probably a better term to use or disjointed maybe with all of the roster shuffling in recent weeks.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers now have won six games in a row. The Penguins meanwhile dig out of a 0-3 hole at the end of the first period and nearly came back to win.

Penguins played terrible in the first half of the game then started to turn it on with starting goaltender Tristan Jarry settling into a grove.

Jarry opposed Christopher Gibson.

Lines were…

Ty Loney – Kael Mouillierat – Josh Archibald
Anton Zlobin – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Derek Army
John McCarron – Jarrett Burton – Patrick McGrath

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill
Niclas Andersen – Ryan Parent

Tristan Jarry – Matt Murray

Lineup Notes: Jarrett Burton was signed earlier in the day to a PTO with Matia Marcantuoni down with injury. Burton was Wheeling’s leading scorer at the time. He took Marcantuoni’s place centering the fourth line. That was the only change for the Pens coming off Friday’s win against Springfield.

First Period: Pens took three straight penalties in the period. They get scored on even strength when a defender loses Jared Gomes streaking down the far side. Gomes went up the wing and scores on a shot that beat Jarry clean and it was 1-0 Sound Tigers.

Then the Sound Tigers league worst power play scored seconds after a Ryan Parent hook when an Alan Quine shot from the point found its way in for a 2-0 Bridgeport lead. Jarry was badly screened on that attempt by Quine.

The Penguins were running all over the place and almost into each other trying to match the pace of the Sound Tigers. Then, they lost Ben Holmstrom behind Jarry’s net for a second. Holmstrom finds Justin Vaive on the far side and Vaive connects for a goal that made it 3-0.

Shots after the first period were every bit of 14-5 in favor of the Sound Tigers. Jarry was the reason that it wasn’t 6 or 7-0. The Penguins looked and played overmatched and were not playing as a team. How could they when it’s constantly one or two guys out of the lineup because of injury or call-up.

Second Period: Penguins kept it a 3-0 deficit and killed a couple of Bridgeport penalties. Then, Carter Rowney scored to put the Penguins on the board at 3-1. Off of the ensuing face-off the Penguins nearly scored again and were starting to come alive when the horn sounded to end the period. Of note here, Will O’Neill picked up an assist on the Rowney goal. O’Neill has 13 points in his last 13 games.

Third Period: Carter Rowney picked up a bouncing puck, took it to his right through some Sound Tigers defensemen, drew Gibson out of his net and beat him to cut the deficit to one with 13:12 to play in the period.

Penguins then got a power play and nearly scored on it with several chances. Pens were continuing to push when Steve Oleksy was called for slashing. They killed that then Gomes was called for a slash of his own. Wilkes-Barre called their timeout, but with Jarry eventually pulled and the Penguins skating six men to four, they never found the equalizer.

Moral of this one is that a 0-3 hole after the first period is tough for even the healthiest of teams to battle back from because you are constantly chasing the game.

Three Stars: 3) Ben Holmstrom (two assists, +2) 2) Justin Vaive (game winning goal, +1) 1) Carter Rowney (two goals, +2)

Around the Division: Hershey inches closer to surpassing the Penguins for tops in the Atlantic. They beat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 5-1….Albany shuts out Hartford 3-0….Providence beats Portland 3-1….Springfield doubles up Syracuse 6-3.

Standings: Penguins (.674 percentage points) — Hershey (.635) — Portland (.589) — Providence (.565) — Bridgeport (.564) — Hartford (.532) — Lehigh Valley (.490) — Springfield (.457)

In case you are wondering, the Hershey Bears cannot surpass the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins for first place this weekend no matter if they win in the only AHL game on the schedule on Super Bowl Sunday against the Binghamton Senators. Even if the Penguins lose Tuesday to the Utica Comets, the percentage points then would be .660. It’s mainly because the Penguins have games in hand on Hershey that is the difference in the percentage points thing that the AHL has us ranked by this season (thanks, California) so while the margins are going to be close, Hershey still has work to do.

That’s right, the Pens and Bears still have to play each other eight more times.

Wheeling Update: Predictably, the undermanned and understaffed Wheeling Nailers lost 6-0 to the Reading Royals tonight. The Nailers played with eight forwards.

I doubt there will be video highlights but if I see any and can work and edit in, I’ll put it here.

Pens have a date in Utica Tuesday. My Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at 4 at their usual time. The big board chart refresh will update sometime Sunday afternoon.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

RAPID RECAP – Pens LOSE 3-2

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers came into the game tonight having won five games in a row and on the rise in the Atlantic Division. The understaffed Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins scraped together a lineup tonight and gave it a go. 

Gosh golly, they almost came out winners. Or forced overtime at least. 

Behind 3-0 after the first period, the Penguins comeback falls short and they lose 3-2. Carter Rowney had both Penguins goals. 

Tristan Jarry stopped 24 of 27. 

More in a bit with full analysis.

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