Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Wheeling Enforcements

Reinforcements, Reassignments, Replacements

Bunch of news happening in the last twelve hours since the St. John’s recap. Here it is….

I’m fine with Zatkoff resting up and coming back better than ever next week against Springfield, or whenever it is he comes back. Goaltenders aren’t the main attraction in an All-Star exhibition. No one plays defense, and the goaltenders are left out to dry most times. I remember reading something one time that said when a goaltender came back from an All-Star event that his timing was all off and his second half performance suffered. For a Penguins team that sits currently out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, would you rather an off Zatkoff or a sharp Zatkoff for the Springtime playoff push? I would take the latter. So maybe the injury is a blessing in disguise.

More tomorrow vs. Norfolk.

We’re Getting the Band Back Together

You may have forgotten the names Derrick Pouliot, Andrew Ebbett and Bryan Rust. If you have, how could you? They are the first, fifth and seventh leading point getters respectively on this Wilkes-Barre / Scranton team. How soon we forget!

Anyway, Pouliot was returned from Pittsburgh this week. Rust came down with Taylor Chorney the next day and Andrew Ebbett was placed on waivers yesterday and cleared at noon today. He hasn’t been assigned to Coal Street yet, but could be in the next 30 days or next 10 games.

Fallout from these moves saw on Friday Sahir Gill being sent back to Wheeling and Chorney and Scott Harrington swapping places.

EDIT: Scott Wilson was activated off of injured reserve and sent to Wilkes-Barre this afternoon. Wilson still leads the AHL Penguins with an 88% goals for percentage.

For a Penguins team on a bit of a slide with Bears in their mirror looming large (Hershey has two games in hand) and Phantoms in both teams mirrors looming larger (Lehigh Valley has four games in hand on Wilkes-Barre and two on the Bears) these reinforcements are a welcome addition.

The Penguins take on a Worcester Sharks team tomorrow that has won four straight coming into tonight, when they rematch against division leading Manchester who they beat for the first time Tuesday. Then Wilkes-Barre takes on the Providence Bruins on Sunday. Providence has been up and down this season and it appears that the Penguins are catching the Bruins down, as they are 0-3-1-1 in their last five games.

Hershey is off Friday too. They host Albany Saturday, who will have played their third game this week.

Lehigh Valley gets Albany at home Friday, Binghamton Saturday and travel to Hershey Sunday. The Phantoms will be playing six games in the next nine nights.

The East Division looks like this as we head into the weekend….


Games Played



This Weekend





@ WOR 1/17
@ PRO 1/18





vs. ALB 1/17
vs. LV 1/18





vs. ALB 1/16
vs. BNG 1/17
@ HER 1/18

Should be interesting to see how everything shakes out Sunday at around 6 p.m. to say the least.

Gameday for Worcester will hit the blog Saturday at 3.

Bobbleheads, Reinforcements and Relocations

It’s cold out. Hope you are staying warm. One snowflake falls and creates snow, snow creates a snowball and a snowball rolls down the hill and starts an avalanche. Kind of like blogging. Individually, me writing about Bobby Farnham coming back into town or a Tux bobblehead isn’t warranted for a single blog post. But a conglomeration of the above? Let’s blog…

Coal Street announced three bobbleheads they are giving away later this season on Wednesday. They are….

Jayson Megna (available February 21)

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (available March 14)

tux bobble

Tux! (available April 4)


Photos courtesy of the Pens Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, top to bottom.

Scott Harrington and Bobby Farnham were sent back from Pittsburgh over the last two days. In a corresponding move, Coal Street sent Patrick McGrath, Zack Torquato and Clark Seymour back to Wheeling.

Norfolk is probably going away next season. This report out of Virginia states that the team may be sold to Anaheim as the AHL Westward Expansion continues. Oklahoma City won’t be back next season, probably heading to Bakersfield, home of the ECHL Condors. Anaheim’s AHL affiliate could potentially end up in San Diego. There are rumors that Manchester (LA Kings affiliate) may end up in Ontario (LA Kings ECHL affiliate) and Worcester (San Jose affiliate) may be going away too.

Be thankful you have a team here in Wilkes-Barre that gives away bobbleheads. Come to a game if you haven’t yet. This team is in first place, there are ticket deals. They care about you and the teams success on the ice. What are you going to do, go outside?

Gameday setup for the rematch vs. Norfolk hits the blog Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Mumps in the Road

You think that you have heard the last of mumps, but today it was revealed that Marc-Andre Fleury, Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta weren’t feeling well today and were being tested for mumps.

As a result, Pittsburgh recalled Jeff Zatkoff. In a reactionary move, Coal Street recalled Eric Hartzell. Matt Murray, for the time being, is the man in net.

GM Jim Rutherford said today that the results on the tests for Fleury, et. al would be known in three days. They are quarantined. So forget about Zatkoff coming back this weekend.

There is no need for recall for Bortuzzo or Maatta, who were already down with injuries.

Wilkes-Barre has seen this fish before with Zatkoff going down with injury once this season in October against Albany. Matt Murray is more than capable of handling the number one job here with Eric Hartzell as his capable backup.

The Penguins host Albany Friday and travel to Binghamton Saturday.

Dropping the (Klink)Hammer

Above, you will find my reaction to the news that Pittsburgh traded defenseman Philip Samuelsson to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for forward Rob Klinkhammer this afternoon.

I’m sure I echo anyone who reads this blog and is a fan of the Penguins here in Wilkes-Barre.

But let’s face it, this move was inevitable. The Penguins had too many defensemen in the pipeline. Samuelsson was probably not going to see the blueline in Pittsburgh anytime soon, so the move was made in exchange for a player like Klinkhammer that can step in immediately and help out in Pittsburgh.

In case you are wondering, Klinkhammer hasn’t played in the AHL since 2011-12. He is a full time NHL-er.

In a reactionary move, Coal Street has recalled Alex Boak and Clark Seymour.

I would guess that we could see a body filter back to Wilkes-Barre at some point now that Klinkhammer is in the fold, but the Penguins play an afternoon game against Ottawa Saturday and who knows when Klinkhammer will get into town, get settled and acclimated to Mike Johnston’s system. I wouldn’t expect any movement back to Wilkes-Barre until the early part of next week, but who knows.

Other big news of the day that now seems like a footnote, Bryan Rust was recalled because Patric Hornqvist was injured in last night’s game vs. Vancouver.

We press on though. The Gameday setup vs. Lehigh Valley hits the blog at 3 p.m.

Macaroni and Fish

Roster moves announced this morning by Coal Street.

Matia Marcantuoni is back and he’s bringing Sahir Gill with him. The Penguins added Gill via professional tryout agreement (PTO).

When Marcantuoni was sent down, his impact was immediate. He scored a hat trick on November 7 against Evansville. He has a total of 10 points (4-6-10) in 11 games. Given the mass recalls of Penguins forwards to Pittsburgh, Marcantuoni’s recall was imminent.

Gill is a different story. He yo-yo’ed with Hamilton last season and has only appeared in just one AHL game. He is second on the Wheeling Nailers in points (4-10-14) and led the team in points last season with 54. Digging a bit deeper into Gill’s stats finds that he has a goal and three assists on the power play for Wheeling this season. Those four points on the power play would actually put him in a tie for third on the Penguins among active leaders on the power play. He could be a big help, if given the opportunity.

So, bottom line, it boils off as a win-win for everybody. The Penguins are getting two excellent players from their ECHL affiliate, including one in Gill that can help a 22nd ranked Wilkes-Barre power play. In Gill’s case, he’s getting what would appear to be his shot at the AHL.

One more thing. The Penguins didn’t make a recall for defense. I don’t really think they will need to unless there is a recall made by Pittsburgh. If Taylor Chorney isn’t ready, Nick D’Agostino could slot in.

We will see. Should be an interesting weekend.

Zatkoff? No. Zatk-ON

Interesting news out of Coal Street this afternoon. Eric Hartzell and Nick D’Agostino were re-assigned to the Wheeling Nailers.

For D’Agostino, it’s a chance to finally play. He has played just one game and has been the forgotten man in town.

For Hartzell, this signifies the imminent return of Jeff Zatkoff. Jonathan blogged Tuesday that Zatkoff practiced in full. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that the Hartzell demotion means that Zatkoff is ready to go again.

So a question. Who leads the team out first at approximately 6:20 p.m. Friday night against Lehigh Valley? My guess is Matt Murray. Murray has been playing steady as of late. He played really well against the Phantoms on October 29. So, when does Zatkoff get a game? I think it’s Saturday against Syracuse and then Murray starts the 5 o’clock Sunday game against Hershey and the Bears.

I could be wrong and I probably am. One thing is for certain, Jeff Zatkoff is healthy enough to play again. He was injured October 21 in Albany and was out approximately three weeks. Murray and Hartzell held the ship together quite nicely.

Oh, Beau Bennett was recalled to Pittsburgh Tuesday.

Next blog entry will be Friday’s setup against the Phantoms at 3 p.m., but for more breaking news for me to speculate on.


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