Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Wheeling Enforcements

Wednesday Notebook

A bunch of stuff to get to. Here we go…

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was assigned to Wilkes-Barre today on a conditioning assignment.

In a reactionary move, G Eric Hartzell was sent to Wheeling to get games in. Also in that release is the recall of Cody Sylvester.

Scott Wilson has signed his ATO.

Two other teams are in playoffs. Reservations made for the St. John’s IceCaps and the Abbotsford Heat.

Kris Letang is back.

Andrew Ebbett is back too.

Jonathan had an update on the days news, with quotes from Vokoun. Coal Street put together an audio package that you can listen to here.

Some footnotes: The Ebbett re-assignment puts the Pens one over the veteran limit again. In case you were wondering, having Tomas Vokoun in town on conditioning does not affect the veteran limit because goaltenders are exempt from this rule…Cody Sylvester had his appendix removed a few days ago and was called up to get looked at medically here.

The AHL started rolling out its end of year awards. Schedule here. The All-Rookie Team was announced today. None of the Penguins were on it. But that game me an idea nevertheless. My own Chirps from Center Ice End of the Year Awards. We can do the standard Rookie of the Year, Best Forward, Best Defenseman, Best Goalie and MVP and any other category that comes to me within the final two weeks of the season. The good people at WordPress who host my blog allow me to use polls, so I am going to put it to you, the reader to decide who wins. Look for that in the coming weeks.

Next blog update will probably be the Friday afternoon setup for the game in Syracuse.


AHL Trade Deadline Wrapup

The AHL trade deadline came and went today. For the East Division, one team made a move.

Hershey acquired Kris Newbury from Adirondack in exchange for Derek Whitmore. For Whitmore, he’ll finally get to play as he’s been a scratch for the Bears. For Newbury, a chance to win with a contender. Newbury was second on the Phantoms in scoring.

Acquiring Newbury doesn’t solve the Bears veteran situation, either.

The Penguins, Senators, Admirals and Crunch went about their Wednesday and didn’t make any moves.

For Wilkes-Barre, they sent Tom Kuhnhackl and Harrison Ruopp back to Wheeling and retained G Eric Hartzell. Turns out that WBS had their goaltending coach in town and wanted Hartzell along with Jeff Deslauriers and Peter Mannino all on the ice for instruction.

One other piece of news, WBS signed Conor Sheary to an amateur tryout contract today. Sheary captained the UMass Minutemen and led them in points (9-19-28) this season. He’s signed to an AHL deal for next season, too.

So you are wondering what type of player the undrafted Sheary is. So am I. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far:


I really don’t excited for kids coming out of junior or college because it’s a totally different game, playing with men. Take ex-Penguin Casey Pierro-Zabotel for example. He comes over from leading the Western Hockey League in points in 08-09 and joins the Penguins. He goes on to play 9 games, registering one assist. He was sent to the ECHL and has never been seen again.

Reasonable expectation for Sheary is maybe a game in late March or mid-April or after the Penguins have clinched a playoff spot.

Next update here will likely be the Gameday setup for the Friday home game vs. Hamilton.

Weekend Setup 2/13

Snowed in today? I was. If you weren’t consider yourself lucky.

Anyway, here’s a look at a couple of things to know as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins head into a very important weekend against two divisional foes.

Four players sent to Wheeling. Denver Manderson and Carter Rowney were reassigned to Wheeling. The Penguins also released Zack Torquato and Barry Goers from their PTOs and they will return back to Wheeling also. Means to me that Jayson Megna and Brian Gibbons are good to go for the weekend. Gibbons, provided that he returns from St. John’s with all of this snow causing many travel delays pretty much everywhere in the Northeast.

The Penguins also announced a huge slate of events for the February 22 game against the Providence Bruins. Camouflage pucks, Brian Gibbons All-Star poster, Olympic themed jerseys and the Hall of Fame Inductions of Kevin Blaum, Dennis Bonvie and Alain Nasreddine.

In the immediate, however, the Penguins travel up to Binghamton Friday, Hershey Saturday then home against the Bears Sunday. The Penguins can be a first place team this weekend or they can be a team toiling with teams 6th on back in the Conference. Provided that Gibbons and Megna play this weekend and Spencer Machacek returns from his lower body injury, the Penguins should be fine. Although who knows, with the Penguins 29th in the AHL in power play in a 30 team League.

Regardless, a very important weekend for several teams in the East Division awaits.

Gameday for the Binghamton matchup with hit the blog Friday at 3. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to shovel more snow.

Surgery, Suspensions, Postponements, Oh My!

Big news day today. All the news broke as I was walking over to lunch and and my phone in my pocket. It always happens that way. Anyway, in order of relevance….

Jonathan Bombulie reports that Zach Sill underwent surgery today which will NOT end his season. Tremendous news for Sill’s sake first, the organization and fans.

Personnel moves on Coal Street today. D Barry Goers is back with the team on a new PTO while D Nick D’Agostino and D Harrison Ruopp were sent to Wheeling to play.

— Staying in Wheeling, Cody Sylvester was named ECHL Player of the Week. Chaz Johnson, signed by Wilkes-Barre to an AHL deal in the summertime, was given an 8 game suspension for his antics in this fight (start at the 1:30 mark) Saturday in Cincinnati vs. the Cyclones.

— Staying in the ECHL, the San Francisco Bulls are no more, ceasing operations immediately thereby ending their season early. The Bulls were an affiliate of the San Jose Sharks organization. Worcester was their AHL club.

— Back in the AHL, tonight’s Norfolk / Charlotte game was postponed because of snow. The game will be rescheduled for March 4.

— Three players were added to the AHL All-Star Classic in Newfoundland. None of them were Penguins. You can check out who here.

Gameday for tomorrows game with Syracuse will be up up at 3 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!!

Up, Down, All Around!

When they say, “get your scorecards here” they’ll mean it, especially at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

More moves you can shake a stick at today for the Penguins. Here they are….

- They sign Mike Carman to a standard AHL Player Contract for the remainder of the season. Carman had a goal for the Pens Saturday in Hershey, against his old team.

- They send Dustin Stevenson to Wheeling.

- They call up from Wheeling F Anton Zlobin and D Harrison Ruopp.

- They sign C.J. Severyn to a PTO.

Oh, here’s the press release.

Jeepers! Where to start!?!

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. Rotating Ruopp and Stevenson is just Coal Street’s way of seeing what they have depth wise and how Ruopp can handle bigger, faster, better competition. For what it’s worth, I liked Dustin Stevenson’s game and didn’t have a complaint about his play at all.

The Pens are adding two forwards in the addition of Severyn and Zlobin. This leads me to believe the following: 1) they want insurance for the St. John’s trip this weekend, 2) it means Pittsburgh isn’t sending back a forward anytime soon. My initial thought on who is Andrew Ebbett. Ebbett played more games in the NHL last year for Vancouver than he did in the AHL for the Canucks’ affiliate at the time, the Chicago Wolves. Or, 3) The diagnoses on Forwards Nick Drazenovic and/or Dominik Uher are more on the side of long term. Update: I was partially right. Jonathan reports today that Nick Drazenovic is out “indefinitely” – not good.

For Severyn, he was in camp with Wilkes-Barre this fall and must have left an impression. He’s 6-11-17, +3 in 19 games for the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL, he leads the Solar Bears in scoring and is 19th overall in the ECHL in points.

Boy, talk about a change of scenery for a guy like Severyn. The sunny skies and 70 to 80 degree weather of Orlando, Florida to the overcast and rain forecasted for St. John’s, Newfoundland this week.

Anyway, my Week 9 AHL Power Rankings, originally scheduled to run at 4 p.m., will debut at 5:15 p.m. instead. Come back later to check those out.

Mish Mash Too Cold to Take a Bath

Tons of stuff to catch up on here Tuesday afternoon…

– Brian Gibbons is back. Re-assigned this morning.

– Up top, Beau Bennett is out 8-10 weeks with a broken wrist. Tanner Glass is out with a broken hand. That’s why the demotion of Gibbons is head scratching to me.

Here’s some nice words from Pittsburgh on Andrew Ebbett. In that, you’ll also find that Paul Martin is out with a lower body injury.

So where does that leave Wilkes-Barre?

– Carter Rowney was recalled from Wheeling today.

– Peter Merth and Pierre Leblond practiced today, from the Tuesday Bombulie update.

Jonathan really has things covered in his offering today. He mentions that a forward could still go back up tomorrow as well as Simon Despres because of Paul Martin’s injury and that Despres uses his right frame of mind.*

Oh, and Matt D’Agostini is on waivers. If no one claims him, he could end up on the ice with the Penguins tomorrow in Glens Falls, NY.

Three other things before I wrap it up. Remember the big hit in Saturday’s game Tom Kuhnhackl took by J.C. Lipon of St. John’s? Lipon was suspended two games as a result by the AHL today….Zack Torquato was named ECHL Player of the Week for the Wheeling Nailers. Torquato is on an ECHL only deal, meaning he can sign with any AHL team. He was in Wilkes-Barre camp last season if I remember correctly…..There is a new ECHL team which will take the ice for the 2014-2015 season. They are the Indy Fuel. They’ll probably face Wheeling a few times next season.

Depending if there is a call up to Pittsburgh tomorrow and the time it happens, I might have a few words on it. If not, Gameday for tomorrow’s game in Glens Falls vs. the Phantoms will be up at 3 p.m.

* – alright, it’s a terrible joke. Left handed people use the right side of their brain. Righties use their left side. So you’ll hear the joke from left handed people that they are always “in the right frame of mind”… I’ll be here all week. Try the veal….

One Goes Up, They All Come Up

I don’t think a Mohegan Sun Casino blackjack dealer can shuffle the cards like the brain trust on Coal Street did today.

At around 9 a.m. Monday, Brian Gibbons was recalled to Pittsburgh. It’s his first NHL call-up, and a well deserved one. Gibbons has flat out been the best player in Wilkes-Barre all season. He’s finally put together the equation of: Speed + Finish = NHL call up. Good for him.

That call up left Wilkes-Barre short one forward. Nick Drazenovic didn’t practice today per Jonathan Bombulie’s Monday update. Pierre Leblond hasn’t resumed practicing yet either. So the speculation began on who could get recalled from Wheeling.

Well, at around 3 p.m. today, Wilkes-Barre recalled FOUR players from Wheeling. G Eric Hartzell, D Dustin Stevenson and forwards Denver Manderson and Cody Sylvester.

Instead of trying to make sense of it, Jonathan already did…

Make that four call-ups. WBS called up C Denver Manderson, C Cody Sylvester, D Dustin Stevenson and G Eric Hartzell from the Nailers and sent G Peter Mannino down in Hartzell’s place. The more I think about it, Manderson and Sylvester could both play Wednesday. Payerl, Megna and Uher have played center, but not this year. So that leaves Andrew Ebbett and Mike Carman as the only true centers on the roster. Stevenson is a plus-9 for Wheeling, so he was an obvious call for defense depth.

The Hartzell situation is a little more interesting. He’s 2-2 and with a 2.58 GAA with Wheeling, but his save percentage is a healthy .922 and two starts back, he pitched a 37-save shutout against Elmira. I know I’m curious to see how he does in a real AHL game. Perhaps the decision makers feel the same way.

Mike O’Brien also chimed in with the following…


It’ll be interesting to see if Hartzell gets a start either Wednesday in Rochester or this weekend vs. St. John’s. My guess is you aren’t recalling Hartzell just so he can make a trek across Pennsylvania and to Western New York this week. Mannino will likely start Wednesday for Wheeling in Reading. As for Stevenson, he’s probably a safety net for Reid McNeill / Nick D’Agostino. McNeill is still out with injury and D’Agostino is still too wet behind the ears for my liking to be slotted in full time in the bottom pairing.

But who knows. Things can get shuffled again in an instant. Let’s just hope the Pens don’t bust this week.


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