Chirps from Center Ice

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

Rowney Re-Signs 6/15

News out of Coal Street Monday afternoon was that they re-signed F Carter Rowney to a one year AHL pact.

Rowney had a breakout year this season for the Penguins, seventh on the team in points with 10-21-31 and a +14 in 63 games for the Penguins in 2014-15. He also had a 64.25% GF% and a 63.83 ESGF%.

I considered Rowney a Priority One guy for the Penguins to re-sign in the offseason. This is an AHL deal, so his Europe prospects were probably there but he most likely wanted to give it one more run in North America and possibly a shot at an NHL deal in 2016-17 or beyond.

Regardless, with Tom Kostopoulos re-signing a month ago and Barry Goers in the fold again, it would look like the band is getting back together.

Mike O’Brien had these series of tweets which I found appropriate…

EDIT: The Pittsburgh Penguins announced later in the afternoon that they have signed D Niclas Andersen to a one year entry level contract. Andersen is a 27 year old left-handed defenseman that is 6’1 and 218 pounds. He captained Brynas of the Swedish Elite League this past season. He was a fourth round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2006 but never signed. From the limited information out there that I can read that isn’t Swedish, he looks like a defensive defenseman. He’s projected to be a depth guy, which means that he could see Wilkes-Barre in the Fall.

I have updated the 2015 Offseason Moves List appropriately, including the Andersen news.

Let’s Go Pens!

Monarch Coronation — Manchester WINS Calder Cup

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Blogger Note: Special to Bob Howard and the Power Play Post Show.

The Manchester Monarchs were the AHL’s best team all season long and finally reached the pinnacle of success tonight in winning the Calder Cup over the Utica Comets in five games.

Too fast, too tough, too good. These could be words used to describe the Monarchs in the regular season and post season as divisional foes St. John’s, Portland, Worcester and Providence all learned in the regular season and Portland, Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, Hartford and Utica learned in the postseason.

Manchester will soon come home to a celebration for their fans and when the confetti and noisemakers are cleaned up, the team will re-locate about 3,000 miles West and set up operations in Ontaio, California with four other AHL teams making the journey out to the Golden State.

For Manchester, a 14 year run in the AHL concludes with a championship. A 2-1 win over Utica in five games.cc15champs_200

All of the scoring was done in the first period.

Zach O’Brien created a turnover and Nick Shore won a puck battle in the Utica zone and dished to Adrian Kempe who scored at 10:02 to put the Monarchs up 1-0. It was Kempe’s fourth goal in three games this series and the sixth consecutive time on the road where he has scored.

Manchester scored on a power play 3:07 later when Vincent LoVerde scored on a one timer to make it 2-0.

Manchester starting goaltender Patrik Bartosak turned away 31 shots, with the only blemish coming with 14.8 seconds left to play in regulation by Cal O’Reilly with Utica’s starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom pulled for the extra attacker.

Undeterred, the Utica Memorial Auditorium was filled to capacity again, as 3,835 fans packed the Aud in the hopes of cheering their Comets to a win.

Jordan Weal won the Jack Butterfield trophy as MVP of the playoffs with a league best 22 points (10-12-22) along with a +12 in 19 playoff games.

So ends another season of AHL hockey. The 80th season will be here before we know it and the face of the league completely changed with five California teams and a total of eleven affiliation changes or relocations.

Is it October yet?

Comets on the Brink — Monarchs WIN 6-3

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Blogger Note: Special to Bob Howard and the Power Play Post Show.

Coming into Game 4, given the state of affairs that the Manchester Monarchs were in having lost Game 3 without the AHL MVP and losing their workhorse goaltender to injury, doubt started to creep in. Were the AHL’s regular season champions in trouble? Was Utica back in the series?

The answer was a resounding no.

Manchester takes Game 4 with an impressive 6-3 win and lead the best of seven series three games to one and can win the Calder Cup Saturday.

Lineup notes…. Brian O’Neill was back from his injury from Game 1 that forced him out of Game 2. Steve Mastalerz backed up Partik Bartosak with J-F Berube still out from the injury to him in Game 3.

A fracas between the two teams as the blood was boiling early. Out of it, Brian O’Neill hit the post behind Jacob Markstrom but the officials reviewed it and confirmed no goal.

Sean Backman pounced on a Utica defensive zone cross-up and scores on a turnover to make it 1-0 Utica at 12:45.

:32 later, Nic Dowd did the same thing and doubled the lead for Manchester. Utica head coach Travis Green called his time out after that.

Utica cycled a puck down low and found Frank Corrado at the point for a one time shot that went in and the Comets were on the board at 14:09.

A torrent pace. Three goals in 1:24.

Sven Baertschi scored on a power play with 1:06 left to bring the 3,835 fans that packed the Utica Memorial Auditorium to their feet as the home team just tied the game.

Manchester broke the game open with a three goal second period, buoyed by two power play goals.

Colin Miller scored a power play goal in the second period to edge the visitors back in front.

A Kent Huskins tripping call found the Manchester Monarchs on the power play again. With sustained zone time, Nick Shore jammed in a rebound of a puck in a pile and the Eastern Conference Champions had a two goal lead.

Nic Dowd sprung out of the neutral zone off of a turnover and fired a shot over Markstrom’s glove to make it a three gaol lead for Manchester with 10.3 seconds to play in the second.

Adrian Kempe made it 6-2 Manchester in the third period on a nice feed by Nick Shore and that ended Markstrom’s night. Enter Joacim Eriksson.

Will Acton scored his first of the playoffs on a rebound of a Peter Andersson shot from the point to cut the Monarchs lead to 6-3.

Now Utica must do the unthinkable. Win three straight against a team that hasn’t lost three straight in months.

Game 5 is Saturday night in Utica.

Home Ice Holds Serve — Comets WIN 3-2

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Blogger Note: Special to Bob Howard and the Power Play Post Show.

The Manchester Monarchs had never played a game at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in their history. Prior to Game 3 tonight, all the Monarchs knew about the arena known as, “The Aud” was that it was a historical building that sat in downtown Utica, located in central New York.

Once the puck dropped though, it was the equivalent of walking into a beehive full of angry bees.

There will be no Manchester Monarchs sweep. The Utica Comets take Game 3 by a score of 3-2 and trail the best of seven series two games to one.

In front of a sellout crowd of 3,835, most of which stood in line for hours for tickets to Game 3, the home crowd was deafening to start, whetting their appetite with the taste of Calder Cup Finals hockey for the first time.

Cal O’Reilly opened the scoring for the home team just after a Utica’s first power play. He created a turnover from the high slot and fired it home at 5:45 of the first period for his first goal of the playoffs, he had 16 straight assists prior to. That goal by Utica snapped a streak of eight straight games in which the Monarchs had scored first.

There was a bit of collateral damage for the Monarchs on the sequence as starting goaltender J-F Berube needed assistance off of the ice with an apparent injury. He was replaced in net by backup Patrik Bartosak, making his first appearance in the playoffs.

Utica continued the relentless pressure and made it 2-0 after the Comets won a defensive zone draw. Bobby Sanguinetti found Alexandre Grenier up the ice and Grenier streaked in and scored to double the lead for the home team at 18:58.

But Manchester got one back :37 later after a lazy defensive zone exit by the Comets that was tracked down at the blue line. Adrian Kempe collected his fifth goal of the playoffs on a rebound of a Derek Forbort shot.

The question coming into the second was whether or not the late Manchester goal from the first would carry any momentum over. The Monarchs opened in waves and Markstrom was forced into making a tough save 1:30 in on Colin Miller. They were slowly rounding into the form of the team that came in with a 2-0 series lead and was the regular season champion.

Utica slowed the pace back to their comfort level, won a face-off and Niklas Jensen scored his second of the game off of a shot from the slot to make it 3-1 Comets at 6:18 and the two goal lead was restored.

It nearly became a three goal lead, but the Monarchs made it 3-2 as they transitioned to a two on one 1:04 later when Adrian Kempe scored his second of the game. Manchester was meeting adversity with a goal, but still trailed by one.

The second period broke with the Monarchs still trailing by one, but the pressure they were building intensified.

Despite an 11-7 shot advantage by the Monarchs in the third period, the Comets were able to stymie Manchester from finding the equalizer, including killing a late Manchester power play with under five minutes to play.

Three stars were Manchester’s Adrian Kempe with two goals, Alexandre Grenier with a goal, assist and a +2 and Cal O’Reilly with a goal, an assist and a +3.

Notes… Utica’s Brandon DeFazio and Manchester’s Brian O’Neill both left the game with injuries and didn’t return.

Game 4 will be Friday from Utica followed by Game 5 Saturday night.

Go With Goers

Coal Street announced Wednesday that they have re-signed Barry Goers to an AHL contract for the 2015-16 season.

Goers has rounded into the form of a solid AHL defenseman this past season. One of the hard workers on the team, he will be expected to step up into a bigger role next season. It’s a role that the brain trust is confident Goers will accept with enthusiasm.

Goers was the Penguins selection for Man of the Year, for his outstanding contributions to the community during the regular season.

The 2015 Offseason Moves List has been updated for the second time this week.

Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals is later as the series shifts to Utica. Manchester will be gunning for a 3-0 series lead. I’ll have a recap for the Power Play Post Show later on.

WBS Adds Loney and Krause

Some news out of Coal Street Monday afternoon.

Forwards Ty Loney and Adam Krause signed AHL contracts today, the team announced.

Loney is the son of long time NHL forward Troy Loney, who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. Loney played four years at the University of Denver and was once a teammate of Beau Bennett. He signed an amateur contract with Norfolk late last season and appeared in five games going 2-2-4.

While doing a search for Loney, I found this article on him and his brother Reed, who were featured by the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2008.

Krause had a bit of a head start, as he suited up for six games with the Wheeling Nailers in the regular season, where he too was 2-2-4. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Krause had a goal and three assists. He’s big too, listed at 6’3 and 210 pounds. He captained Minnesota-Deluth last season.

Admittedly, that’s all I know about these two. You are looking at AHL depth guys that have the pedigree to develop into the next Conor Sheary. Whether or not that happens, remains to be seen.

I have updated the 2015 Offseason Moves List with our first two signings for 2015-16.

In Just the Nic of Time — Monarchs WIN 2-1 (OT)

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Blogger note: Special to Bob Howard and the Power Play Post Show.

Heading into Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals, the Manchester Monarchs were 8-0 at home while the Utica Comets were 7-0 coming off of a playoff loss.

Something had to give.

Nic Dowd from the Manchester Monarchs continued the trend for the home team as the Manchester Monarchs take Game 2 by a 2-1 score and lead the best of seven series two games to none.

There were lineup changes for both sides. Kevin Raine drew in for the injured Jeff Schultz on defense for the Monarchs and Nicklas Jensen drew in the lineup for Wacey Hamilton at forward.

No change in goal for either side, as it was Jacob Markstrom for the Comets and J-F Berube for the Monarchs in net.

A much tighter first period defensively for the Comets ultimately saw Zach O’Brien break though on a power play goal in the final minute of the first period at 19:05.

Utica brought the affair level with a goal by Nicklas Jensen unassisted at 1:12 of the second period on a Monarchs turnover. Jensen had been a scratch for the past three games for the Comets but made his appearance in Game 2 count in scoring the tying goal. Neither team was able to capitalize during long stretches of power play time awarded by the referees.

Machester outshot the visitors 8-3 in the third period, but were unable to solve Jacob Markstrom. Utica controlled pace in the first half of the third period, but the Monarchs wrested away the momentum and managed everything they had to re-gain the lead.

The Monarchs were gift wrapped a power play to open overtime when Peter Andersson cleared the puck over the glass in his own end with one second left in regulation. However, the Monarchs did not score.

Finally, Nic Dowd tracked down a David Van der Gulick clearing attempt and was in a foot race with Utica’s Cory Conacher in the corner, to the right of Markstom. Dowd out hustled Conacher, spun towards the net, threw a shot on goal the Markstrom stopped, but no one picked him up in front, Markstrom never corralled the rebound and Dowd poked the game winner home falling down.

Three stars were Zach O’Brien with a goal, J-F Berube with 24 saves on 25 shots and Nic Dowd with an assist and the game winning goal.

Now the Comets face an unenviable task of trying to beat the Manchester Monarchs four times with five tries remaining. For a Manchester team that has only lost back to back games in the Calder Cup Playoffs just once (Portland in the Conference Quarterfinals) the Cup is almost theirs.

But the Monarchs face a sellout crowd and a Utica fan base which will have the Utica Memorial Auditorium packed to the gills on Wednesday night when this series resumes in Utica, NY for Game 3.

Notes: This was Utica’s 8th overtime game, they were 3-4 in the previous seven contests…. Manchester was a perfect 2-0 in overtime coming into overtime tonight… Attendance for Game 2 was 6,078.

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