Chirps from Center Ice

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

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 5: Manchester Monarchs (MCH leads 3-1)

vs. manch white

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 5 — Manchester Monarchs

AHL Game: I5

Who: Manchester Monarchs

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Series: MCH leads 3-1 (best of seven)

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night, Jordan Weal had a hat trick and the Monarchs took Game 4 by a 5-2 score. Tom Kostopoulos and Bryan Rust scored for the Pens late in the third to no avail.

What to Watch For: Desperation. Another loss and it’s sixteen years and no Cups for Wilkes-Barre. This is the best postseason team ever assembled in Wilkes-Barre. Manchester was the best team in the AHL and has made the Penguins look like clowns so far. But Wilkes-Barre hasn’t played its best game yet and a thousand mile journey begins with a single step.

Referee(s): Mark Lemelin / Darcy Burchell

Linesmen: Shandor Alphonso / Francis Trempe

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @MonarchsHockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /MonarchsHockey

Instagram: wbspenguins / monarchshockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie and @TLTomVenesky

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / MCH: Ken Cail @kenmonarchs

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For MCH: WGIR 610 AM

Television: AHL Live

When is Game 6?: If the Penguins win, it’s Friday in Manchester at 7.

Weal Problems — Pens LOSE 5-2

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The Penguins were in trouble in this game before it was :43 old.

That was when Monarchs forwards Jordan Weal tracked down a puck that Penguins goaltender Matt Murray batted up in the air and swept past the Wilkes-Barre net minder for a 1-0 Monarchs lead at :42 and a lead they would not relinquish as they roll to a 5-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and a commanding 3-1 series lead.

The Monarchs are undefeated when they score first this postseason. It was the first road win for Manchester since 2013.

Oh. That Weal kid. He wasn’t done. He had a hat trick. After being held off of the score sheet in Game Three, he was everywhere tonight and made the Penguins pay.

No lineup changes for the Penguins in Game Four.

The Penguins had two opportunities to get back into the game in the first period on two power plays but did not score. You could look at this game and see many turning points. The Weal goal at :42 is certainly one and the Penguin inability to score on two power plays in the first was certainly another.

Wilkes-Barre went on another power play to open the second period but Manchester scored shorthanded on a Michael Mersch dart of a shot on a two-on-one with Brian Dumoulin back.

Wheels came off after that. Manchester scores on a blatant offsides call when Weal gets a piece of a Colin Miller blast from the blue line that made it 3-0. Terrible non-call from the officials and you would expect better out of an officiating crew that gets games on merit at this point in the season, but the Penguins did not lose the game because of the officiating.

Manchester made it 4-0 about four minutes later when Nick Shore was marked by a stickless Barry Goers and passed to David Van der Gulick on the opposite high dot for a one timer.

Murray was touched for three goals on twelve shots in the second period. Remember his body of work in the regular season? Murray wouldn’t let three goals in during an entire weekend. He was replaced by Jeff Zatkoff to start the third period.

Weal finished off his hat trick in the third period on a power play with Andrew Ebbett in the penalty box for a 5-0 Manchester lead.

Penguins made it interesting by scoring two goals in a span of :37. Nick Drazenovic from his stomach passed to Tom Kostopoulos who slipped it under J-F Berube’s pads to break up the Berube shutout. Then Bryan Rust powered around a Manchester defenseman for another goal.

Monarchs head coach Mike Stothers used his time out to stop the bleeding. Hynes pulled Zatkoff with about six minutes to play looking for the Hail Mary but instead came up empty.

Three stars were Van der Gulick with a goal and an assist and a +1, Michael Mersch with a goal, an assist and a +3 and Jordan Weal with three goals and a +2.

I’ll run the in-depth numbers tomorrow, but Taylor Chorney was a -2, Conor Sheary picked up another point, he has had one in every game for the Penguins this Spring but was a -2. Derrick Pouliot pinched too deep during a sequence which led to a Manchester goal, Kasperi Kapanen was invisible tonight, Andrew Ebbett hasn’t scored a goal in the series yet. I could go on and on. But it’s piling on. I said to many at the game tonight that if the Penguins don’t somehow manage the impossible and beat Manchester that the Monarchs will probably win the Calder Cup.

Think about it. The Penguins lineup is the best and deepest its been in years, if not ever. Murray is the Goaltender and Rookie of the Year. Wilkes-Barre is well coached, and the top defensive team in the AHL for the fourth out of five years under John Hynes. Kapanen, Sheary, Rust, Pouliot, Dumoulin, Chorney, Harrington, etc. all have pedigree and will go on to long NHL careers but right now it’s men against boys. If you put all those accolades in a jar and told someone who is knowledgeable about the game of hockey to watch this series and then at the end of the series tell them that the team that is being dismantled right now is the Penguins, they probably wouldn’t believe you. That’s how much better the Monarchs are right now.

Never give up the ship. Keep the faith. Game 5 tomorrow. We’ll set it up at 3 with the Gameday setup, attend the game at 7 p.m. tomorrow and let it ride.

Let’s Go Pens!

RAPID RECAP – Pens LOSE 5-2

Jordan Weal scored at :42 in the first period and that was all he needed to get going in the right direction towards a hat trick and all the Monarchs needed en route to a 5-2 win and a commanding 3-1 series lead with Game 5 tomorrow in Wilkes-Barre. 

Penguins got two goals in :37 in the third period with less than ten minutes to play from Tom Kostopoulos and Bryan Rust but the comeback ended there.

Full recap to come in a bit.

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 4: Manchester Monarchs (MCH leads 2-1)

vs. manch white

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 4 — Manchester Monarchs

AHL Game: I4

Who: Manchester Monarchs

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Series: MCH leads 2-1 (best of seven)

Media Kit

Last Game: On Saturday at home, the Penguins won 2-1. Bryan Rust returned from injury and scored a first period goal. Tom Kostopoulos added a power play goal in the second period and Matt Murray made 29 saves on 30 shots.

What to Watch For: First goal. Whoever scores the first goal in the series so far has won. Will that trend continue?

Referee(s): Kendrick Nicholson / Geno Binda

Linesmen: Tom George / Francis Trempe

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @MonarchsHockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /MonarchsHockey

Instagram: wbspenguins / monarchshockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie and @TLTomVenesky

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / MCH: Ken Cail @kenmonarchs

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For MCH: WGIR 610 AM

Television: AHL Live

When is Game 5?: Tomorrow, Tuesday, in Wilkes-Barre at 7:05 p.m.

It’s Never Easy — Pens WIN 2-1

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Thought jumped into my head when the Penguins had just gotten scored on late in the third period of tonights game, a 2-1 Penguins win in Game 3, that these games are never easy.

For the Penguins, who were for the most part the better side tonight, the better team. A goal by David Van der Gulick on a breakaway late in the third, and it wasn’t easy for the Penguins.

You easily could say the same thing from a Manchester perspective tonight. The Monarchs dominated the Penguins in Game 2. Why the struggles? It’s isn’t easy.

A welcome addition tonight with Bryan Rust and a goal from him in the high slot in the first period, a Tom Kostopoulos power play goal in the second period and steady goaltending and defense from Matt Murray and the Penguins as a whole, and all of a sudden it’s a series again. Game 4 goes Monday in Wilkes-Barre.

Matt Murray vs. J-F Berube.

Lines were…

Tom Kostopoulos – Andrew Ebbett – Carter Rowney
Conor Sheary – Jayson Megna – Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl – Nick Drazenovic – Kasperi Kapanen
Dominik Uher – Matia Marcantuoni – Bobby Farnham

Taylor Chorney – Brian Dumoulin
Scott Harrington – Barry Goers
Reid McNeill – Derrick Pouliot

Matt Murray – Jeff Zatkoff

Oskar Sundqvist, Josh Archibald and Scott Wilson were out for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Drazenovic (first AHL game since February11 ) and Bryan Rust (first AHL game since April 12). Sundqvist and Wilson are day to day with injuries and Josh Archibald, per what John Hynes told Tom Venesky post game, is done for the year.

First Period: Bryan Rust connects on a goal at the high slot for a 1-0 Wilkes-Barre lead and the first lead of the series for the Penguins. He was left alone for a split second and took advantage of it and scored for a 1-0 Penguin lead.

Wilkes-Barre had to kill two penalties in the period and did so.

Second Period: Manchester killed off three of four penalties in the second and took a cumulative five straight going back to the first. Tom Kostopoulos connected with Andrew Ebbett for a give and go goal to put the Penguins ahead 2-0.

Manchester came in waves in this period and Matt Murray was up to task every time and was the difference maker.

Third Period: More Murray. But the Monarchs would not be denied David Van der Gulick scored on a breakaway when Nic Dowd found him all alone at the blue line. Van der Gulick skated in and scored on Murray to cut the Manchester deficit to one with 6:59 left to play.

Penguins respond by having a long, two minute offensive shift in the Manchester end but don’t score out of it.

Berube was pulled around the 1:20 mark and Manchester turned on the pressure but never found the equalizer. Key saves from Murray and shot blocks from men in front, notably Tom Kostopoulos in the final ten seconds.

Three Stars: 3) Matt Murray (29 saves on 30 shots) 2) Conor Sheary (two assists) and 1) Tom Kostopoulos (goal)

Big game out of Jayson Megna. Pittsburgh brass was in town, notably head coach Mike Johnston, so Megna played with a burr up his you know where.

The Penguins and Monarchs were the only game in town in the AHL tonight. Just a quick reset of other series: Grand Rapids leads Rockford 2-0 in their series, Utica and Oklahoma City are 1-1 and so is Hershey and Hartford.

I will have a chart refresh on the blog sometime late Sunday. Have a nice Mother’s Day!

Let’s Go Pens!

RAPID RECAP – Pens WIN 2-1 

A masterful goaltending effort by Matt Murray, a goal by Bryan Rust, a power play goal by Tom Kostopoulos and a perfect penalty kill were enough for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins tonight as they win Game 3 by a 2-1 score and trail in the best of seven series two games to one still with Game 4 Monday and now a necessary Game 5 on Tuesday.

Tighter, more evenly contested game with the defense of the Penguins, the goaltending by Murray and the penalty kill winning the day.

Full recap will come in a bit.

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 3: Manchester Monarchs (MCH leads 2-0)

vs. manch white

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 3 — Manchester Monarchs

AHL Game: I3

Who: Manchester Monarchs

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Series: MCH leads 2-0 (best of seven)

Media Kit

Last Game: The Penguins lost 5-2 in regulation Thursday. Dominik Uher and Conor Sheary netted goals, but Jordan Weal and Brian O’Neill both had two goals and an assist in the win.

What to Watch For: Defensive adjustments. It was the only thing left intact in Game 2 from Game 1. It didn’t work in Game 1 and again in Game 2. With the home team getting last change, Hynes and Company are going to need to fill out a lineup that can contain Manchester’s speed up front.

Referee(s): Tom Chmielewski / Trevor Hanson

Linesmen: Trent Knoor / John Grandt

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @MonarchsHockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /MonarchsHockey

Instagram: wbspenguins / monarchshockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie and @TLTomVenesky

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / MCH: Ken Cail @kenmonarchs

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For MCH: WGIR 610 AM

Television: AHL Live

When is Game 4?: Monday in Wilkes-Barre at 7:05 p.m.

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