Chirps from Center Ice

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

All Star Catchup 2/1

Had to do a double take there on the date. Is it really February 1st already?

Anyway, a couple things to note on here a few hours from the AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse. 

The West beat the East 19-14 in the skills competition last night. Tied 9-9 in the second to last event, the West won the breakaway relay by a score of 10-5. Penguins defenseman Will O’Neill participated in three events. 

This morning, Dave Andrews met with the media here and held his annual State of the AHL. I’m still working on raw audio and thought about different ways to summarize everything here on the blog but found Sean Shapiro from Wrong Side of the Red Line in Austin, TX already did a fantastic job in summarizing the event. 

Essentially Andrews hit on a few different things. First was balancing the schedule. California teams play 68 games and everyone else plays 76. You are going to see that again next year and probably the foreseeable future unless you convince teams to play less games which the independently owned teams in Hershey and Chicago won’t go for. 

Second was the two referee system. It’s coming. The biggest problem now is that the League doesn’t have enough qualified guys to work a game. 

Third is the way that playoffs are dictated financially. Basically the ticket deals that your team gives you during the season is taken away if your team qualifies for playoffs. That’s not on the team, that’s the AHL telling them what to do. That’s going away. 

There were other small things like on ice time. All teams track it but the NHL teams don’t want it made public because of confidentiality on how a certain prospect is being used. I don’t know why they would try to hide that, honestly. Games are easily available online and anyone with a stopwatch and a piece of paper can manufacture how much time a certain player is getting. 

Also, the dry scrape is sticking around. Lots of fans don’t like it because it kills momentum, but some buildings are more suited to do it the way the NHL buildings do it and others aren’t. So to make it fair for everyone they dry scrape the ice. 

Same divisions and parent clubs for next year too. I think that may be the first time in a while that nothing would change from one year to the other. 

There was some Pittsburgh news that had an affect on Wilkes-Barre today. 

First, the news that Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson are back with Pittsburgh after the parent Penguins come off of NHL All-Star break. That was to be expected. Chris Kunitz did not participate in practice today, so recalling both makes sense. The Pens play the Ottawa Senators Tuesday.

The other news today was that Tom Sestito was signed by the Penguins to an NHL contract. He will be on waivers until noon Tuesday and if no one claims him, he will be assigned to Wilkes-Barre. 

More later after the games tonight. The Atlantic Division plays the Central Division in the second game of the night, the Pacific Division in the fourth and the North in the sixth and final game of the night before the championship game. Game is local on My Network TV or on Root Sports Pittsburgh tonight at 7.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 17

We are officially at the AHL All-Star break here in the 2015-16 AHL season. If you aren’t headed to Syracuse, then it gives you extra time to read this weeks version of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings.

At the break, it looks like that a lot of teams in the Eastern and Western Conference are playing for second place, respectively. The Toronto Marlies of the East and the Ontario Reign of the West have been the classes of their respective Conferences from the beginning. It may take a lot for another team to step up and beat these two teams.

But it isn’t the Marlies and Reign who are one – two this week. It’s…well, I am just going to let you read to see who and where all the other teams ended up this week. Click the jump if you didn’t link in directly.

Read more of this post

Thrown Back on Throw Back Night — Pens LOSE 5-3

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Tonight felt a lot like the early years of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins existence.

– Home black jerseys in livery not seen in these parts in 15 years.
– Sellout crowd.
– Hated, long time rival in the Philadelphia Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
– Fights and penalties. 60 minutes in total.
– Controversy with the officiating and questionable calls.
– The opponent walking away with the two points.

A 5-3 loss, the Penguins third in a row and six of the last seven for an all of a sudden slumping Penguins team that is without it’s number one goaltender due to injury (Matt Murray) and number one defenseman due to call up (Derrick Pouliot)

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins once robust lead in the Atlantic Division has been trimmed to mere percentage points now by none other than the other big time rival in this state, the Hershey Bears. The Bears have not lost in regulation in ten games.

Lots of things to get to in this one.

Tristan Jarry opposed Anthony Stolarz

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Ty Loney – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Josh Archibald – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – John McCarron

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Niclas Andersen – Clark Seymour
Tim Erixon – Will O’Neill

Tristan Jarry – Brian Foster

Lineup Notes: John McCarron was in for Dominik Uher who was out with injury. J-S Dea is now the only Penguins player to appear in every game this season. Defenseman Ryan Parent skated the extra man in warmups. Josh Archibald replaced Uher on the third line and McCarron took Archibald’s spot on the fourth.

Before the game John Slaney became the fourth member of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Hall of Fame Class. He was inducted into the Class by original members Kevin Blaum and Dennis Bonvie:

First Period: Penguins jump ahead on a Will O’Neill power play goal with Tom Kostopoulos screening in front of Stolarz that made it 1-0 Penguins. Pens think they score again but have the goal taken away by referee Olivier Gouin as he either new the whistle or had the intent to while Kostopoulos was whacking away on Stolarz as the puck squirted through. A back and forth period saw the Pens ahead 1-0 with the shots being 12-11 Phantoms.

Second Period: Phantoms cashed on a carryover power play on fresh ice that tied the game. Taylor Leier got the last deflection on an Andrew MacDonald blast from the point that made it 1-1.

Then, after a Lehigh Valley power play had just expired, Colin McDonald scored to make it 2-1. What happened here was Tristan Jarry made a diving, poking save on an Andrew MacDonald attempt that got him out of position. With McDonald right in front with time and space, Jarry had no chance. It was a goal I’m sure he would want back, but the Penguins needed to dig out of a 2-1 hole.

Things didn’t get any easier as Chris Conner stole a puck at center ice, put a deke on a Penguins defender and scored an NHL caliber roof job on Jarry that made it 3-1.

That was your turning point.

It was your turning point because the Penguins would get on tilt (a poker term for playing on the edge after being dealt a bad hand) and it would see J-S Dea tangled up with a Phantoms player, Dea giving words to the Phantoms bench coming off, slowly, while play was going on in his end. Linesman Bill Lyons sees all of this and correctly whistles the idling Dea for too many men.

Now every whistle and stoppage was escalated. Reid McNeill and Maxim Lamarche engaged in a fight that McNeill easily won via uppercut. Anything to spark an all of a sudden lifeless Penguins team. It worked. Scott Wilson cashed on a big rebound left by Stolarz on the power play and it was a one goal game again.

Then the play and sequence which will get talked about at the water cooler Monday.

Pavel Padakin scores his first goal of the season while Tristan Jarry has a Phantoms player laying on top of him. With Jarry prone on the ice and the puck in the net, there is no way that referee Gouin is going to allow the goal to stand, right?


After brief consultation with Linesman Lyons and Luke Murray, the goal was allowed to stand. Apparently, Gouin ruled that a Tom Sestito pushed Tyrell Goulbourne on top of Jarry, thus not allowing Jarry to play his position but the goal standing anyway because Sestito pushed Goulbourne into Jarry.

I thought the call sucked. If it was reversed, I would openly say that the Penguins got away with one. I think at the very least there needs to be some moderation of the rules that either takes both players off the ice like you see with hooking and diving plays or just a penalty to the player that puts the opposing player on the goaltender thereby not allowing the goaltender to play his position.

I was mad on Twitter about it, but I have seen it happen before where goals like that are allowed to stand. It’s a terrible sequence to be on if you are the team that is getting scored on.


Third Period: Scott Wilson brought the Penguins to within one when he received a pass from Conor Sheary that hit his skate and kicked to his stick and in the net.

With time dwindling, the Penguins never found the equalizer. Josh Archibald had all the time and space in the world but fired wide late. With Tristan Jarry vacated Colin McDonald hit an empty net at center ice that salted the game away.

Three Stars: 3) Chris Conner (goal, assist, +2) 2) Scott Wilson (two goals, -2) 1) Andrew MacDonald (three assists, +2)

Two point nights for Wilson, Sheary (two assists) Kael Mouillierat (two assists) and Will O’Neill (goal, assist)

Around the Division: Bridgeport beats Albany 4-1. The Sound Tigers have now won four in a row…Hartford beats St. John’s 4-1…Hershey beats Syracuse 5-1 and Springfield beats Portland 6-2. Providence was off.

Worth noting that with the win tonight the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have now won five games in a row.

Standings: Penguins (.682 percentage points) — Hershey (.620) — Portland (.616) — Providence (.557) — Bridgeport (.544) — Hartford (.533) — Lehigh Valley (.511) — Springfield (.443)

Wheeling Update: Elmira beats Wheeling in a shootout 4-3. Paul Cianfrini had two goals.

Pens now are at the All-Star break and will report next Thursday for practice before getting on a bus bound for Springfield, Massachusetts for next Friday’s game against the Springfield Falcons.

As for me, the Week 17 AHL Power Rankings will be up here on the blog Sunday at 3 p.m., the big board chart refresh will be up sometime soon and I am heading to Syracuse for AHL All-Stars as a fan. I’ll have a bunch of stuff on the Twitter side and probably the blog so keep it locked here on the blog this weekend.

Let’s Go Pens!


This game fell apart in the second period when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms scored their fifth goal of the game with Tristan Jarry on his back being interfered with.

Referee Olivier Gouin allowed the goal to stand, which set off the sellout crowd here tonight in Wilkes-Barre very angrily, as well as the Penguins bench. A penalty filled second period followed. 

But the a penguins still had a whole period to play and battle through and ultimately fell short by a score of 5-3. 

All the big names, Sheary, Wilson, O’Neill, did all they could to keep the spend in it but couldn’t. They all had multiple point games. 

More to follow in a bit when I get home. 

GAMEDAY: vs. Lehigh Valley 1/30

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Home Game: 22

AHL Game: 656

Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game / Last Meeting: Last night in Allentown, the Pens lost 4-3 in overtime. Cole Bardreau scored two goals in the third period for the Phantoms who came into the period down 2-0. Kael Mouillierat for the Pen was named third star of the game with a goal and an assist.

Record: For WBS: 29-12-1-1 (60 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For LV: 21-21-2-1 (45 pts., 7th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: The Penguins played better in the first period of last nights game than they did in all of Wednesday’s lost to Hartford, but looked lifeless in the third period against the Phantoms yesterday and it cost them. Wilkes-Barre will need a full 60 minute effort tonight if they want to send what is likely to be a sellout crowd home happy.

Referee(s): Olivier Gouin

Linesmen: Bill Lyons / Luke Murray

Twitter: @WBSPenguins and @WBSGameDay / @LVPhantoms

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins / /LehighValleyPhantoms

Instagram: wbspenguins / lehighvalleyphantoms

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TLTomVenesky / @SteveGrossMCall

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For Lehigh Valley: Bob Rotruck @BobRotruck

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For Lehigh Valley: Fox 1470

Television: AHL Live / MyNetwork TV (local in Wilkes-Barre)

Promotion(s): John Slaney Hall of Fame Night | Throwback Jersey Auction

Other Game to Watch: I’m giving you two. The Portland Pirates are at last place Springfield tonight and the Hershey Bears host the Syracuse Crunch as those two teams payoff a back end of a home and home series themselves. The Pirates and Bears are dangerously close to the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Next Five Games: @ SPR 2/5, BRI 2/6, @ UTI 2/9, @ HFD 2/12, POR 2/13

Goodwill: O’Neill Added to AHL All-Star Classic

It was announced Saturday morning that Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins defenseman Will O’Neill was added to the AHL All-Star team for the Atlantic Division. O’Neill will replace Penguins winger Dominik Simon, who will miss the games due to injury.

O’Neill has nine points in his last ten games. While he may not have had All Star quality like numbers when the teams were announced a few weeks ago, he has been producing like an All-Star of recent.

O’Neill’s addition gives the Atlantic Division one extra defensemen by my count. Here’s the team as of about 1 p.m. Saturday…

G: Mike McMeknna, Portland Pirates
G: Anthony Stolarz, Lehigh Valley Phantoms

D: Connor Carrick, Hershey Bears
D: Cameron Gaunce, Portland Pirates
D: Ryan Graves, Hartford Wolf Pack
D: Ryan Pulock, Bridgeport Sound Tigers
D: Will O’Neill, Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

F: Chris Bourque, Hershey Bears
F: Nick Cousins, Lehigh Valley Phantoms
F: Seth Griffith, Providence Bruins
F: Dustin Jeffrey, Springfield Falcons
F: Alexander Khokhlachev, Providence Bruins
F Rob Schremp, Portland Pirates

When they put these plans together, teams were supposed to be comprised of seven forwards and four defensemen. Unless I am missing something, it looks like the Atlantic will be the only division with the extra defenseman.

The Gameday setup for the rematch with Lehigh Valley will be up on the blog at 3 p.m. today.

Bardreau You Don’t — Pens LOSE 4-3 (OT)

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I won’t blame you if you put this game in on cruise control heading into the third period of tonight’s game.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were up 2-0 and in complete control of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms heading into the third period at PPL Center, a place where the Penguins have had much success in the past two seasons.

But hold on. You still need to play a full 60 minutes. The Penguins didn’t and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms played their best period of the game, maybe the season against the Penguins and come all the way back and win 4-3 in overtime.

The Phantoms now have won four games in a row.

It was Tristan Jarry vs. Jason LaBarbera

Lines were…

Scott Wilson – Kael Mouillierat – Conor Sheary
Ty Loney – Carter Rowney – J-S Dea
Dominik Uher – Oskar Sundqvist – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Matia Marcantuoni – Josh Archibald

Reid McNeill – Steve Oleksy
Will O’Neill – Clark Seymour
Tim Erixon – Niclas Andersen

Tristan Jarry – Brian Foster

Lineup Notes: Brian Foster backed up, John McCarron skated the extra in warmups which meant that neither Sahir Gill nor Dominik Simon took warmups tonight. Harrison Ruopp was sent back to Wheeling. Mike O’Brien on the pre game show offered little that you don’t already know if you read a paper this morning or happened to check out Seth’s blog or mine yesterday. Barry Goers is close to playing again and so too a healthy Ryan Parent. I’d expect that he may see a game this weekend just given the fact that Coal Street shipped Ruopp to Wheeling earlier today.

First Period: The Penguins are just a better team when they have Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson in the lineup. It was their line that generated the most offense early on in the period. Penguins would get carryover power play time late in the period when Tom Kostopoulos cashed to make it 1-0 Penguins….

Feels like a while since the Penguins scored the first goal of the game, doesn’t it?

The period overall was the best that Wilkes-Barre played in twenty minutes then they did all sixty minutes in Wednesday’s game against Hartford.

Second Period: The penalty killing by the Pens would be the story of the period. An early kill, then Tom Sestito hit Josh Archibald with a pass and Archibald doubled the Penguins lead…

They then had to kill a Steve Oleksy delay of game. Then Tristan Jarry made a big save to keep the Phantoms off the board…

Because he is always in position, he downright looks mechanical. Tristan Jarry is flat out fun to watch play goal, folks.

Penguins had to then kill 1:47 of Lehigh Valley 5-on-3 but Lehigh Valley never registered a shot on Jarry and the Penguins and their top rated road penalty killing easily killed it.

Third Period: Pens were rolling coming into the third period until they weren’t. The Phantoms outshot the Penguins 17-9 in the period and started to chip away.

– A Davis Drewiske shot from the blue line snuck through at 5:55 when the Penguins were scrambling in their zone. It was a precursor of things to come.
– Dominik Uher left the game with an apparent upper body injury. Obie said that Uher went in for a hit on Colin McDonald and missed and went straight into the boards and was followed into the Pens locker room by the medical staff holding his left shoulder.
– Cole Bardreau tied the game when he was left unmarked at the top of Jarry’s crease.
– The Penguins top line of Sheary, Mouillierat and Wilson were the only line that generated anything that looked like offense from a Wilkes-Barre perspective.
– You know that you are in trouble and things aren’t going your way in the third period of a tie game when your captain takes a boneheaded penalty like Tom Kostopoulos took at 14:55 of the third (a slash) – Chris Conner re-directs a puck off of the stick of Tristan Jarry and in to make it a 3-2 lead for the Phantoms.

Full on implosion by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. But then, :26 later…

Will O’Neill with the shot that Sheary redirects and Mouillierat cleans up and it’s a tie game again. The top line for the Pens comes through.

Nothing was solved in regulation so it was onto…

Overtime: Chances on both ends, but the Penguins give up a puck in their own zone on the three on three, Clark Seymour falls down which leads to a three on two rush by the Phantoms. Nick Cousins takes the shot, Tristan Jarry makes the initial save but the puck pops up on him, he tries to bat the puck clear standing up, misses, and Cole Bardreau puts it by him for the game winner.

As luck would have it, the Pens had the Phantoms hemmed in. Chris Conner was on the ice but playing without a stick as it broke on him. LaBarbera made a few pad saves to keep it tied then the Phantoms took it the other way and won the game.

Three Stars: 3) Kael Mouillierat (goal, assist, even) 2) Chris Conner (goal assist, even) and 1) Cole Bardreau (two goals including the game winner, +3)

Around the Division: Portland beats St. John’s 4-2…Hershey battles back from a 2-0 hole and beats Syracuse 5-3…Providence crushes Springfield 8-1 and Bridgeport ends the Hartford Wolf Packs eight game winning streak beating the Pack in Hartford by a score of 4-1.

Standings: Penguins (.698 percentage points) — Portland (.631) — Hershey (.611) — Providence (.557) — Bridgeport (.534) — Hartford (.523) — Lehigh Valley (.500) — Springfield (.430)

The Penguins once insurmountable lead in the division is paper thin now over the likes of Portland, Hershey and Providence. The P-Bruins are off for the All-Star break. The Pirates travel to last place Springfield and the Bears play host to the Syracuse Crunch Saturday.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers won 4-1 in Elmira tonight and it was Head Coach Dave Gove’s first road win as coach of the Nailers.

Pens will host the Phantoms for the back end of the home and home series tomorrow in front of what is likely to be a sellout crowd. Gameday setup will be at 3 p.m. tomorrow here on the blog.

Let’s Go Pens!


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