Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Road Life is the Devil — Pens LOSE 4-0

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The Penguins spent eight days on the road with a weekend trip to St. John’s and a Tuesday visit to the Capital District of New York this evening.

The road weary Penguins were shut out by Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid tonight and lost 4-0. Kinkaid made 22 saves.

The main story of the night will be starting Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. Zatkoff left the game in the second period when he made what seemed to be a routine save on Paul Thompson. I have shoddy Vine video here. He was replaced by Matt Murray and was not on the Penguins bench to start the third period.

Albany’s Mike Sislo’s eyes must light up whenever he sees Wilkes-Barre / Scranton on the Devils schedule. Sislo has 6 goals in 4 games played against the Penguins. He had two tonight on the power play in the second period, which iced the game for the Devils.

With Andrew Ebbett, Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington inserted to the lineup, the lines were…..

Tom Kostopoulos – Nick Drazenovic – Bryan Rust
Scott Wilson – Andrew Ebbett – Jayson Megna
Bobby Farnham – Zack Torquato – Adam Payerl
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Dominik Uher

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

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Scratches were Harrison Ruopp, Alex Boak. J-S Dea, Tom Kuhnhackl, Josh Archibald (week to week) Anton Zlobin, Nick D’Agostino, Barry Goers (took warmups) and Conor Sheary (day to day)

First Period: Not a whole heck of a lot happened. There were more post whistle scrums then any actual action. Zatkoff and the Penguins defense was tested early with an early barrage and passed then the Penguins had a late barrage of their own. They had about 1:30 to close out the first that tested Kinkaid but he was up to the challenge as well.

Second Period: Penguins dominate the Devils at even strength but when the Devils were given a power play, Mike Sislo burned Wilkes-Barre twice. The first was a laser from the blue line and the second was a snapper from inside the near face-off dot that beat Zatkoff stick side twice.

Then ex-Penguin Paul Thompson comes in partially unabated and Zatkoff makes what appears to be a routine save. The camera cuts to the action going back up ice but then the play stops and the camera cuts to a felled Zatkoff lying on his stomach. He’d need help off ice and put no weight on his right leg. Enter Matt Murray.

Third Period: Murray made this save on Mike Sislo to deny him his bid at a hat truck. Pens then gave up a 2-on-1 shorthanded bid to Albany but the Devils didn’t connect. The Penguins were making too many cute passes when they needed to take shots. With time running out and Murray pulled for the extra attacker Tim Sestito buried a shot from about 180′ away that sealed the game for the Devils. Immediately after on the face-off that ensued, Reid Boucher snapped one past Murray to make it 4-0.

Three Stars: 3) Reid Boucher (goal, assist, +1) 2) Keith Kinkaid (22 save shutout) 1) Mike Sislo (two goals, +1)

Around the Division: Binghamton lost a wild one in St. John’s 6-5. The two teams rematch tomorrow in Newfoundland and Labrador. The other East teams had the night off.

Standings: Hershey 6 — Lehigh Valley 4 — Norfolk 4 — Penguins 4 – Binghamton 3

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

Wheeling Update: Nailers travel to the Carolinas this weekend and play Gwinnett Friday.

SendToNews Highlights: Unless you are a Keith Kinkaid fan or an Albany Devils fan living in Wilkes-Barre, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to see here from a Penguins perspective. If I remember later, I will put a link here.

We will probably see Wheeling moves this week. Either Eric Hartzell on his way up to backup Murray or reinforcements on their way to the Carolinas to join the Nailers there. Between now and Friday’s game vs. Springfield, that will give us some fodder to blog about, right?

The “Fancy Stats” chart page is updated though the Albany game. Link here. Bookmark this, it’s a page you can access at the top of the blog by clicking the “Charts” tab at time. It’s late on Tuesday night, I’ll examine the numbers some point this week and bloviate like bloggers do.

Let’s Go Pens!

Sweeping St. John’s — Pens WIN 4-1

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I don’t want to say that the Penguins are back, yet. But this weekend is a step in a positive direction.

Wilkes-Barre is 7-1 in the regular season against the St. John’s IceCaps (where was this last June?) and dominated the weekend with a 4-1 win tonight.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Peter Budaj

The lineup remained unchanged from last night.

First Period: Tom Grace used to coin the phrase, “it was OK if you like perfect.” That was the best way to describe the Wilkes-Barre / Penguin start of this game. They came out flying. Scott Wilson got his first goal of the game and his first professional goal and the first regulation lead for the Penguins in 2014-15. Wilson wheeled around a fallen Julian Melchiori and cut in and backhanded a shot past Budaj for a 1-0 Penguins lead.

Then, the Pens tacked on another when they cycled a puck down low. Tom Kostopoulos set up Jayson Megna in between the circles. Megna dished to an unmarked Nick Drazenovic who did not miss to give the Pens a 2-0 lead. It was two goals on four shots for Wilkes-Barre to this point.

The assault continued. I was listening to Brian Rogers tonight because of technical problems streaming the game from my iPad to my brothers Apple TV (sorry, Obie) and he said that Budaj was out there, “all alone” and it showed. The Pens did anything they wanted. They threw pucks on net, won face-offs, and looked great.

Second Period: The exact opposite of the first. St. John’s pressed the Pens into mistakes and the IceCaps capitalized. JC Lipon scores to make it 2-1 after the Penguins don’t clear. Head Coach John Hynes called time out afterwards to settle things down and slow the momentum, heading to the St. John’s side. Pens killed a late penalty and then needed to kill 1:59 of another one heading into the….

Third Period: The pendulum of momentum swung back to Wilkes-Barre’s side. It started with a nice 2-on-1 break shorthanded chance that Budaj stopped. Budaj was on point all night, really.

Tom Kuhnhackl crashed the net and Bryan Rust smacked home the rebound to extend the Pens lead back to two goals again.

Zack Torquato scored an empty netter with Budaj vacated.

Three Stars: 3) Brian Dumoulin (+3) 2) JC Lipon (goal, -1)  1) Nick Drazenovic (goal, +1)

Around the Division: Hershey wins in Springfield 4-1….Binghamton lost to Syracuse in Central New York 4-2…Lehigh Valley loses in their old stomping yard Glens Falls to the Adirondack Flames 4-2 and Manchester beats Norfolk 4-2.

Standings: Lehigh Valley 4 — Hershey 4 — Penguins 4 – Norfolk 4 — Binghamton 3

Conference: 1) WOR (6) 2) ALB (5) 3) LV (4) 4) SYR (5) 5) HFD 6) HER 7) MCH 8) WBS all have 4.

Wheeling Update: Nailers win their home opener 6-3. Eric Hartzell backed up. Carter Rowney had a goal and three assists and was named first star of the game.

SendToNews HIghlights: Are here.

Here is the postgame infographic from tonight’s game.

Pens fly out Sunday morning and head to Albany.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

Working Overtime and Winning — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

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I almost feel like saying to people what Aaron Rodgers said to Green Bay Packers fans a few weeks ago when the Packers were losing and not looking like the Packers.


John Hynes didn’t forget to coach. Jeff Zatkoff didn’t forget to play goal. Philip Samuelsson didn’t forget how to play defense and Tom Kostopoulos didn’t forget how to skate.

The Penguins started out 0-2 to start their season, but they are finally in the win column after a 2-1 overtime win in St. John’s, after Reid McNeill’s slap shot after a J-S Dea faceoff win sent the away team home winners and spoiled the IceCaps home opener, where they raised an Eastern Conference Championship banner tonight.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Peter Budaj

Lines were….

Scott Wilson – Nick Drazenovic – Jayson Megna
Adam Payerl – Zack Torquato – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Kuhnhackl – JS Dea-Rust
Dom Uher – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin – Taylor Chorney
Barry Goers – Philip Samuelsson
Reid McNeill – Alex Boak

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Scratches were Anton Zlobin, Nick D’Agostino, Pierre Leblond. Injury scratches were Conor Sheary and Josh Archibald. Obie said that Sheary was not on the trip and likely could be seen next weekend.

First Period: Pens would get an early power play but couldn’t generate a good look. The Pens really looked light years better from the effort put forth from last week, hitting everything that moved and dominating everything in the period. Zatkoff was tested just once, but made the saves.

Zack Torquato, fresh up from Wheeling, was everywhere. He hit two posts, and had a great period/

Second Period: Pens continued the dominance, but the grip started to loosen a bit. Pens had some chances shorthanded, but later the IceCaps would score off a faceoff when a pass was centered from behind the net to Scott Kosmachuk to give the IceCaps a 1-0 lead.

Third Period: Pens looked like the late second period goal had no affect on them as they came out flying again. But goaltender Peter Budaj continued to close the door on any opportunity the Pens had on evening the game. Finally, Jayson Megna came flying down the far wing and snapped a shot past Budaj to tie the game at one goal apiece.

The Pens then had a power play and agains looked like world beaters but Budaj was up to the task once again.

A few chances for the Pens shorthanded, but it was onto….

Overtime: Both teams had a chance to end it respectively. Then a long delay as the net came off the moorings behind Budaj. The mooring didn’t stay set, so after a lengthy delay, J-S Dea lined up for a faceoff and won it to McNeill who zipped one past Budaj and in.

The two teams rematch tomorrow at 6 p.m. Wilkes-Barre time.

Three Stars: 3) Scott Kosmachuk (goal, +1) 2) Peter Budaj (28 saves on 30 shots) 1) Jayson Megna (goal, +1)

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley beats Adirondack in their home opener in overtime, 4-3….Binghamton beats Portland at home 3-2 and Norfolk beats Manchester 3-2. Hershey was off.

Standings: Norfolk and Leigh Valley have 4. Binghamton has 3. Hershey and the Pens have 2.

Conference: A bunch of teams have 4 points. No one has five. The Pens, despite the two points, sit at the bottom of the Conference in 15th.

SendToNews HIghlights: Are here.

Coal Street put together an awesome infographic which you can look at here. This is something I hope that they get good at and do, often.

Gameday for the rematch tomorrow will be up at 3 p.m.!

Let’s Go Pens!!!

King Me! — Pens LOSE 4-1

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Oh boy.

After a promising preseason, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will wake up on Columbus Day tomorrow staring at an 0-2 record.

The numbers, and I will get into them this week as I roll out a feature I used late last season, will speak for themselves. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, through two games, is 0-2, with a 4.51 GAA and a .735 SV%. 9 goals allowed on 34 total shots. That isn’t good.

But it’s not just on Zatkoff, and I hope to paint that picture as to why later this week when I construct and add up my chart I will roll out this week. I’m not teasing you to come back and I am, I just haven’t put it together yet and I want you to come back and look at it and see for yourself.

Anyway, this game, a 4-1 Penguin loss. It was Jeff Zatkoff vs. J-F Berube.

Lines were….

Anton Zlobin – Jayson Megna – Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl – Conor Sheary – Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Uher – JS Dea – Adam Payerl
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin – Philip Samuelsson
Reid McNeill – Taylor Chorney
Nick D’Agostino – Barry Goers

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

In were Tom Kuhnhackl and Adam Payerl for Scott Wilson and Nick Drazenovic and Nick D’Agostino for Harrison Ruopp. The other scratches were Josh Archibald (shoulder) and Alex Boak.

First Period: :27 in, the Monarchs score. A seemingly harmless wrist shot from the blue line and in over Zatkoff’s shoulder and in. Penguins would get a few power plays and nearly scored on one, but Brian O’Neill would score for the Monarchs to push the Monarchs lead to two. Wilkes-Barre had a late power play that was a mess.

Second Period: JS Dea would get a goal for the Pens from the blue line, Adam Payerl was in the area and provided interference. The goal came on a delayed penalty call on the Monarchs.

The Penguins were finding the gas. They were creating opportunities. It looked like they were going to tie the game.

No. Vincent LoVerde found himself wide open in the slot, made a few moves and deked a puck past Zatkoff to re-establish the two goal lead.

You could feel all the air leave the building, because the Penguins would get no closer.

In fact, the Monarchs got father away. Zatkoff let in another questionable goal from the blue line and the Monarchs had a 4-1 lead.

Third Period: The Penguins did not allow the Monarchs a single shot on goal this period. The Penguins fired seven, all saved by Berube, including one while the Penguins were on a 5:00 power play when Kevin Raine crashed Adam Payerl into the boards. Payerl went to the locker room but came back and appeared fine.

This was especially impressive, because the Penguins played this period without the services of Reid McNeill, who left the game with some type of injury Coach John Hynes had no update on post game.

Three Stars: 3) Vincent LoVerde (goal, +3) 2) Kevin Raine (goal, assist, +2) 1) Brian O’Neill (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: No one else played.

Standings: Norfolk 2 — Lehigh Valley 2 — Binghamton 1 — Hershey 0 — Penguins 0

Conference: St. John’s has 3. Hartford, Lehigh Valley, Portland, Albany, Springfield, Manchester and Worcester have 2. It’s never too early to start counting points. Oh, the Penguins are dead last in the Conference.

Wheeling Update: Nailers are in their preseason, and lost a preseason game 5-3 to the Cincinnati Cylcones, 5-3. Eric Hartzell stopped 10 of 13, Clark Seymour was a -3.

SendToNews Highlights: I don’t think there is anything that any Penguins fan will want to see of the highlights, but for posterity sake, here they are.

My AHL Power Rankings hit the blog Monday at 4 p.m. New format this year, check them out then. Also, I’ll be debuting the chart this week at some point, probably Tuesday. I may be tweeting some things on it as I build it, so if you aren’t yet, follow me on Twitter, @nafsnep.

Let’s Go Pens!

Spoiled at the Open — Pens LOSE 5-2

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I wrote this as a “Case Against” the Penguins in my East Division Preview that ran Friday, part of a weeklong series where I look at each team…

Youth and inexperience. A lot of second year guys and rookies may be relied upon to carry the offensive load this season.

It showed tonight. A 5-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the home opener. The Penguins aren’t historically great in the first game of the season anyhow, but to lose a game on your home ice in front of your fans to a division rival you will see 12 times this season isn’t the way they drew it up.

Jeff Zatkoff vs. Rob Zepp

Lines were…

Anton Zlobin – Nick Drazenovic – Tom Kostopoulos
Scott Wilson – Conor Sheary – Bryan Rust
Bobby Farnham – JS Dea – Jayson Megna
Pierre Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Dominik Uher

Brian Dumoulin – Philip Samuelsson
Taylor Chorney – Barry Goers
Reid McNeill – Harrison Ruopp

Jeff Zatkoff – Matt Murray

Scratches were Alex Boak, Tom Kuhnhackl, Adam Payerl, Nick D’Agostino. Josh Archbald was listed as injured and when introduced had a sling on his left arm.

Tom Kostopoulos is the Captain, we all knew that. Philip Samuelsson and Pierre Leblond are the alternates.

First Period: Ragged back and forth to start, both teams worked the bugs out. Finally late, on a Phantoms power play, Chris VandeVelde scored the first ever goal in Lehigh Valley Phantoms history on a rebound. The puck caromed off of bodies as it was sent towards the net from the blue line. VandeVelde found it, and stuffed it home for a 1-0 Phantoms lead.

Second Period: Zatkoff was leaving a few big rebounds to start but they didn’t end up behind him. But the Penguins fail to clear the puck out of the zone not once, but twice, and it cost them. Brandon Alderson made it 2-0 and then Mark Alt made it 3-0 not too long after.

Bryan Rust scored from just below the blue line as time expired. Referee Jamie Koharski immediately signaled goal, but then went to video review to confirm his call. You would think that this momentum would help the Pens in the…

Third Period: Nope. Nothing doing. The Penguins tried to push, but the Phantoms defense held firm. As time dwindled, the mistakes mounted and just like that, Zatkoff loses another rebound and Nick Cousins cashes for a 4-1 Phantoms lead then the Phantoms on a power play stuff home a Zatkoff rebound to make it 5-1.

Conor Sheary gets his first goal of the season with under a minute to play on a rebound Zepp just left lying there.

Thoughts: The rookies will need to learn that this isn’t juniors anymore and the cutesy dangle plays don’t work against trained professionals. The problems were all over the board tonight. Idiot penalties lead to goals for the other team or failed clears that end up in the back of the net. The problems better get fixed quick with the defending regular season Eastern Conference Champion Manchester Monarchs coming in Sunday afternoon.

Three Stars: 3) Bryan Rust (goal, +1) 2) Brandon Alderson (goal, assist, +1) 2) Chris VandeVelde (two goals, even)

Around the Division: Binghamton and Worcester play late in overtime and Worcester wins 3-2 when the sides are 3-on-3….Hershey loses a back and forth affair with Norfolk by a score of 5-4.

Standings: Norfolk 2 — Lehigh Valley 2 — Binghamton 1 — Penguins 0 – Hershey 0.

Conference: I will look at this once Hartford and Manchester, the only two teams yet to play a game this season, get their season underway Sunday.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers are in preseason, their season does not start until next weekend.

SendToNews Highlights: I prefer YouTube videos, just because they play nicer with the blog then the SendToNews package. So here you go…

Gameday vs. Manchester hits the blog at noon Sunday. No rest for the weary, back at it Sunday afternoon!

Preseason Game #3 – Penguins 1, Hershey 6

News of the day was that Jeff Zatkoff, Taylor Chorney, Andrew Ebbett, Zach Sill all cleared waivers. Zatkoff is headed down. Chorney, Sill and Ebbett remain up with Pittsburgh and can get sent here at any point within the next thirty days or ten NHL games, whichever comes first.

I think it’s a safe bet to say that Nolan Schaefer will be released at some point this week. Edit: Schaefer was indeed released.

Anyway, this game. 220 penalty minutes, 12 fighting majors and four game misconducts.

But none of this will matter, as this was just a preseason game. The Bears dressed a much more experienced lineup while the Penguins dressed, well let’s take a look…

Lines were:

Anton Zlobin-JS Dea-Bryan Rust
Scott Wilson-Matia Marcantuoni-Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl-Adam Payerl-Dominik Uher
Carter Rowney-Tyler Murovich-Pat McGrath

Reid McNeill-Alex Boak
Nick D’Agostino-Clark Seymour
Jonathan Narbonne-Kevin Ryan


Scratches were:

Nolan Schaefer, Philip Samuelsson, Brian Dumoulin, Conor Sheary, Nick Drazenovic, Jayson Megna, Harrison Ruopp, Bobby Farnham, Tom Kostopoulos, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Barry Goers

Bears basically blitzkrieged the Penguins from the jump. Stan Galiev on a power play early on, Joel Broda tacks on another off a rebound, Chris Conner toasting Jonathan Narbonne, Broda again on a nice tic-tac-toe pass setup, Garrett Mitchell on the third power play of the game and then Erik Burgdoerfer for the fourth power play of the game for the Bears. Bryan Rust scored in the third period on a power play goal that broke up Philipp Grubauer’s shutout bid for the Penguins.

In between, a lot of fights. I wasn’t at the game and it wasn’t being televised so I relied on my ears. Let’s just say that Patrick McGrath endeared himself to the Hershey faithful by engaging in agitation and fisticuffs. His shenanigans at one point gave the Bears a 9:00 power play. McGrath was ejected afterwards. Whether his performance this weekend was enough to win him a sport for next Saturday night remains to be seen.

Not much else to recap. The Penguins didn’t dress a lineup you should expect to see at any point this season, while the Bears dressed a more experienced lineup. The results showed.

So that’s all for preseason.

At midnight tonight, the first of my Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews hits the blog. It’s where I do previews of each AHL team. I start in the Western Conference. Here is the schedule for that this week on the blog:



North Midnight Monday
Midwest Noon Monday
West Noon Tuesday
Atlantic Noon Wednesday
Northeast Noon Thursday
East Noon Friday


Plus whatever newsworthy things worth blogging about this week, sandwiched in between these Previews. Be on the lookout for these all week.

Preseason Game #2 – Penguins 4, Hershey 2

First, the news of the day was Bobby Farnham and Brian Dumoulin were assigned to Wilkes-Barre and Taylor Chorney, Andrew Ebbett, Zach Sill and Jeff Zatkoff have been placed on waivers. We will know by noon Sunday whether they clear. I’ll leave the speculation as to what can happen amongst yourselves. I’ll have a blurb about what happens in tomorrows recap of the final preseason game in Hershey.

But about tonight’s game against Hershey, a 4-2 Penguins win. Another solid effort by the Penguins, who started out slow, finding themselves down 1-0 early after Nathan Walker was sprung on a breakaway and put one behind starting goaltender Matt Murray. Murray played the entire game and was backed up by Eric Hartzell. Hartzell will go the distance tomorrow in Hershey. These two are battling for the second spot in Wilkes-Barre, depending on what becomes of Jeff Zatkoff Sunday at noon.

The Penguins came to life in the second period. The Bears were on a power play and Jayson Megna stole a puck off of a Bear at the blue line, skated the length of the ice and dishes to Josh Archbald who scored. Murray, meanwhile, was making great save after save, in this sequence robbing Dustin Gazley after a nice setup by Kris Newbury.

Patrick McGrath, the local product in the lineup for the Penguins, fought Mike Cajkovsky, who had a size advantage. I Instagrammed the fight, which you can see here.

Penguins later score on a power play when J-S Dea cleaned up a rebound and pushed the Pens ahead 2-1.

In the third, Jayson Megna stepped by a guy and hit the post and the puck went high in the air, Scott Wilson boxed a guy out and knocked it in and scored to make it 3-1. Later, when the sides were 4-on-4, Nick D’Agostino took a shot from the blue line that never hit the net, but Bryan Rust was there to get the rebound off of the boards to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead.

Bears would get one back but no more as the Penguins would hold on.

Lines were:

Tom Kuhnhackl-Jayson Megna-Josh Archibald
Scott Wilson-Conor Sheary-Bryan Rust
Anton Zlobin-J-S Dea-Tom Kostopoulos
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond – Matia Marcantuoni – Patrick McGrath

Philip Samuelsson-Barry Goers
Reid McNeill-Harrison Ruopp
Nick D’Agostino-Alex Boak


Scratches were:

Clark Seymour, Brian Dumoulin, Nick Drazenovic, Carter Rowney, Bobby Farnham, Dominik Uher, Adam Payerl, Kevin Ryan, Jonathan Narbonne, Tyler Murovich.

It’s hard to take anything away from preseason games. I thought that the rookie forwards showed themselves well. It’s probably going to come down to a numbers thing for guys like Alex Boak and Tyler Murovich. I’d like my chances with the first three lines we dressed tonight going into regular season play. No one was a glaring liability out there, really. We will have to see what Hynes & Company come up with this week as far as cuts go.

Pens wrap up the preseason with a 5:00 p.m. visit to Hershey. I’ll have some post game words then.

Programming note: The first of my AHL Previews hits the blog Monday at midnight. Be on the look for my North Division Preview at that time, then the Midwest Division at noon Monday as I go two-for-Monday. The schedule after that is West Division Tuesday, Atlantic Division Wednesday, Northeast Division Thursday and East Division Friday.


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