Chirps from Center Ice

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

Week 28 AHL Power Rankings

Could have used more.

That’s the theme that many teams will be saying to themselves this week. There are five spots remaining. Three in the East and two in the West. For teams jockeying for those final five spots, there are some that could have used more points.

The Albany Devils are not one of those teams. They are your biggest gainer this week after a perfect weekend.

Biggest fall this week belong to your Hartford Wolf Pack, out of the tenth spot and down six spots. The Pack are playing spoiler, but got smoked on the Rock by the IceCaps.

The Texas Stars are still your number one team. There is a change to the number two team, no longer held by the Grand Rapids Griffins, but you will have to click through the jump to see who and where your favorite team ended up.

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Play 60, Not 50 — Pens LOSE 3-2

TOR           vs.           WBS

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The Toronto Marlies are the three time reigning North Division Champions. They are a formidable opponent and one that opposing teams in the Western Conference probably don’t like to see.

For the fans in attendance today in Wilkes-Barre, the same feelings were had.

Two Marlies goals :39 apart then a goal late with 26.7 seconds left, all in the third period, stun the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins who lose 3-2 today on Fan Appreciation Night.

The Penguins controlled 50 minutes of the 60 minute hockey game, but let it slip away.

A delay of game call by Bobby Farnham put the Marlies on the power play at 8:36 of the third period. Greg McKegg slammed home a Sam Carrick shot to put the Marlies on the board.

:39 later, AHL stud Defenseman TJ Brennan zipped home a shot from the point that plum beat starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun, appearing in his second and final rehab stint for the Penguins.

A stunned crowd and team. Coach John Hynes used his time out. Both teams had good chances. Vokoun had a big save though traffic to keep it square at two.

Marlies head coach Steve Spott then used his timeout with 1:10 left in the game. In what seemed like a blender of bodies, TJ Brennan unleashed a huge shot from the blue line which was blocked.

Left in the slot, seemingly unattended, was Jerry D’Amigo. D’Amigo shoots, and Kenny Ryan in front tips it in. The Marlies are up 3-2.

Not exactly the Mohegan Meltdown from a few years ago against Charlotte in the playoffs, but close.

Penguins got a power play goal from Adam Payerl in the first and a goal from Tom Kostopoulos in the second. They limited the Marlies to only 8 shots through two periods. It seemed like a walk in the park for the Penguins.

You just don’t do that to the Toronto Marlies. That must have been the message that Spott gave to his players in the second intermission because they responded and responded well.

Probably a good thing that this happens to the Penguins on a Sunday in early April as opposed to a Friday in mid-May. Take this lesson and learn from it.

Three Stars: 3) Anton Zlobin (two assists, +2) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, even) and 1) Jerry D’Amigo (was originally awarded GWG, but that was changed to Ryan. D’Amigo assisted)

Lineup Notes: Chuck Kobasew was recalled by Pittsburgh in the morning. If you think that we needed Kobasew in order to win a Calder Cup, you are probably wrong about a lot of things….Matia Marcantuoni made his pro debut, in for Mike Carman….Zach Sill made his return from skate blade injury, his first action since January 25.

Pre-Game Awards: Media Award (Nick Drazenovic) — Rookie of the Year (Scott Harrington) — Community Service Award (Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond) — Most Valuable Defenseman (Philip Samuelsson) — Most Improved Player (Reid McNeill) — Herb Brooks Memorial Award for Spirit and Dedication (Brendan Mikkeslon) — Fan Favorite Award (Bobby Farnham) — Most Three Stars Award (Tom Kostopoulos) — Most Valuable Player (Tom Kostopoulos)

Around the Division: Binghamton lost in overtime 1-0 to the Hershey Bears. With the point, the B-Sens clinched playoffs….Norfolk wins in a shootout 3-2. Ol’ buddy Brad Thiessen started his third game in as many nights and got the win for the Admirals….Syracuse was shutout 4-0 by the Albany Devils. The Devils completed a perfect weekend.

Other Games of Relevance: Providence lost 3-2 to the Manchester Monarchs and have to wait another day to clinch…. The St. John’s IceCaps put an end to the Hartford WolfPack’s winning streak and win 6-2. 

Standings: Penguins 92 — Binghamton 91 — Hershey 86 — Norfolk 86 — Syracuse 72

Conference: 1) MCH (104) 2) SPR (100) 3) WBS (92) 4) STJ (95) 5) BNG (91) 6) ALB (89) 7) PRO (89) 8) HER (86)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers completed their regular season last night. They get the South Carolina Stingrays in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

So here’s what the rest of the week holds in the East Division. The Binghamton Senators host the Toronto Marlies Wednesday. The Pens and B-Sens square off Friday for what very well may be the East Division Championship. Then the B-Sens host the Norfolk Admirals while the Penguins travel to Utica.

Blog wise, the Week 28 AHL Power Rankings will be up Monday at 4. I have a bunch of other things in the infant stages I am thinking of for the blog. Stay tuned.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Toronto 4/13

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Home Game: 38

AHL Game: 1103

Who: Toronto Marlies

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 4:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night at home, the Penguins clinched their twelfth straight trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 win vs. division rival Binghamton. Scott Harrington scored the go ahead goal in the third period and Peter Mannino stopped 15 of 16 shots. For Toronto, they were in Syracuse last night and lost 6-3. Sam Carrick had a goal and and assist in the loss.

Last Meeting: March 9 in Toronto, the Pens won in a shootout 4-3. Nick Drazenovic scored a goal and one in the shootout and was named first star of the game.

Record: For WBS: 42-23-3-5 (92 pts., 1st place East Division) — For TOR: 42-24-2-4 (90 pts., 1st place North Division)

Why you should care: The Toronto Marlies don’t get smacked around often like they did last night in Syracuse, in a game that saw over a hundred penalty minutes. The Penguins still have a division that they are contending for and cannot take this what would seem like otherwise meaningless game now that they have clinched for granted. There are still games to play and division championships to be decided in the East so the Penguins have to treat this game as they would one in November or December if they want to win.

Referee(s): T.J. Luxmore

Linesmen: Jud Ritter / Tom George

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @TorontoMarlies

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /TorontoMarlies

Instagram: wbspenguins / torontomarlies

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie // @KyleTheReporter

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For TOR: Todd Crocker @HockeyCrock

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: 103.1 WILK-FM / For Toronto: TSN 1050

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: The B-Sens are in Hershey today in a game that means a lot to both teams. Binghamton hasn’t clinched yet. Hershey is still playing for its playoff life. Going to be a good one in Chocolatetown today.

Remaining Games: @ BNG 4/18, @ UTI 4/19

Magic Number? Dozen Matter! — Pens WIN 2-1

   button_bng200       vs.       WBS

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You ever get that sense of something being lifted off of your shoulders and a sense of calm, cool, collectiveness all of a sudden?

When the clock hit zero tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza tonight, I had that feeling. In fact, at 10:32 p.m. on a Saturday night, I still have that feeling.

With a 2-1 win tonight against the Binghamton Senators, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs for a twelfth consecutive season.

Twelve years. That is something that, at the level of minor league hockey, just isn’t done. Think about where you were twelve years ago. Only the Milwaukee Admirals in the Western Conference can say that they have the same streak. They clinched last night.

It’s becoming an institution in Wilkes-Barre. It’s a great city to play in. First class facilities. A front office that goes above and beyond. Media that does the same, from Mike O’Brien all the way down the line.

The one thing that has eluded this city and this franchise, is the Calder Cup.

penguins14

Pretty, ain’t she?

Peter Mannino stopped 15 of 16. Goals by Carter Rowney shorthanded and Scott Harrington on a three on one rush were what the Penguins needed to get by the Senators and overtake Binghamton for first place in the East Division.

Chuck Kobasew was the veteran scratch tonight. Brian Dumoulin did not participate in warmups either after his hit he took in Syracuse last night. Scott Wilson took warmups but was scratched for Josh Archibald.

Penguins do everything right in the first period. Puck possession and a couple of power plays. One where the Pens had extended 5-on-3 time but failed to score.

Then, a puck is thrown in to the left of Mannino. The defenseman wants to take the puck and run it back up and out of the zone but Mannino yells and instructs him to move it along the wall. What ensued was the Senators scoring in the final minute when Ryan Dzingel scored his first goal as a professional to give the Senators a 1-0 lead. Peter Mannino’s shutout streak ends at 154:19.

Carter Rowney does the same for the Penguins in the final minute of the second period. The Pens sail a puck 200 feet down the ice while killing a penalty. Rowney is there to collect it, has all day, makes a couple of moves and roofs a shot in on starting goaltender Andrew Hammond to tie the game with 15.7 seconds left in the period.

Third period saw Binghamton open with some pop but then the Penguins take a puck up ice on a two on one, which became a three on one after the patient Nick Drazenovic dished to a trailing Scott Harrington who had a wide open net to shoot into.

Binghamton then gets two power play opportunities. Peter Mannino came up HUGE in the moment, denying the Senators attempts to tie the game.

With an empty net, the visitors never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Peter Mannino (15 saves on 16 shots) 2) Carter Rowney (goal, even) 1) Scott Harrington (goal, +1)

Around the Division: Hershey loses to Springfield in a shootout 4-3…. Syracuse beats Toronto in an ugly game 6-3….Norfolk and Brad Thiessen shutout the Worcester Sharks 3-0. Thiessen had a 28 save shutout for the Admirals.

Other Games that Matter: The ridiculously hot Hartford Wolf Pack have been eliminated form playoff contention, but that hasn’t stopped the Pack from playing spoiler. Hartford crushes the St. John’s IceCaps on the Rock 7-2 tonight….The Albany Devils are looking more and more like a playoff team with a 2-1 shootout win over the Providence Bruins tonight.

Standings: Penguins 92 — Binghamton 90 — Hershey 84 — Norfolk 84 — Syracuse 72

Conference: 1) MCH (102) 2) SPR (98) 3) WBS (92) 4) STJ (93) 5) BNG (90) 6) PRO (89) 7) ALB (87) 8) HER (84)

Wheeling Update: The Wheeling Nailers win 5-0 tonight in Cincinnati. The Nailers wrapped up the regular season tonight and will start the Kelly Cup Playoffs this week.

SendToNews Highlights: Better yet, how about YouTube Highlights of the same thing sent to SendToNews?

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Peaking at the right time? That’s a question that is up for a debate. If you think so, let me know.

Wilkes-Barre closes out the regular season home schedule tomorrow afternoon vs. the Toronto Marlies. Gameday for that will be up at noon.

Let’s Go Pens!!!

GAMEDAY: vs. Binghamton 4/12

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Home Game: 37

AHL Game: 1088

Who: Binghamton Senators

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night in Syracuse, the Pens won in a shootout 3-2. Chuck Kobasew had two power play goals. Anton Zlobin and Spencer Machacek scored for the Penguins in the shootout and Tomas Vokoun stopped all four shooters in the shootout round. For Binghamton, the Senators beat the Bears 5-4 in overtime with Derek Grant netting the game winning goal for the B-Sens.

Last Meeting: Sunday in Binghamton, the Penguins lost 6-2. Spencer Machacek scored both goals for the Pens in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 41-23-3-5 (90 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For BNG: 42-23-1-5 (90 pts., 1st place East Division)

Why you should care: Tons on the line here. 1) East Division lead. 2) A playoff berth. 3) Loser probably gets St. John’s on the road to open playoffs. 4) Good old fashioned hate between these two clubs.

Referee(s): Trevor Hanson

Linesmen: Luke Murray / Jud Ritter

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @BSens_Hockey

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: wbspenguins / bsens_hockey

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @PSBSens

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For BNG: Grady Whittenburg @BSensRadio

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: 103.1 WILK-FM / For Binghamton: Oldies 96.9

Television: AHL Live and MyNetworkTV (local in Wilkes-Barre)

Promotion(s): Star Wars Night – Penguins Mug (first 5,000 fans)

Other Game to Watch: Albany hosts Providence tonight in a key matchup for both teams battling for the final spots in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Remaining Games: TOR 4/13, @ BNG 4/18, @ UTI 4/19

Power Players — Pens WINS 3-2 (SO)

SYR          @          NOR

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They didn’t clinch on the ice that their season ended on like they did last year in St. John’s, but the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins got closer to doing so with a 3-2 shootout win in Syracuse Friday night.

Chuck Kobasew scored two power play goals. Tomas Vokoun, facing his first live fire since June of last year while with Pittsburgh, stopped 23 of 25 shots.

Brian Dumoulin took a hard shot from Dalton Smith in the third period, took one shift afterwards but wasn’t seen again. You hope, with the injury to the other top defenseman Philip Samuelsson, that Dumoulin’s injury isn’t that bad or else Wilkes-Barre could be in a bind sooner rather than later. Edit: Jonathan tweeted that the injury is believed to be minor.

Tomas Vokoun vs. Cedrick Desjardins

Lineup Notes: Harry Zolnierczyk was recalled to Pittsburgh before the game. Bryan Rust made his pro debut on the Penguins third line with Dominik Uher and Carter Rowney. Injury scratches were Jeff Deslauriers, Philip Samuelsson and Zach Sill. Veteran was Tom Kostopoulos and healthies were Nick D’Agostino, Josh Archibald, Conor Sheary, Matia Marcantuoni and Scott Wilson.

First Period: Nice opening jump from both clubs. Chuck Kobasew scores on a power play goal to put the Penguins ahead 1-0. Andrew Ebbett assisted on the goal, extending his point streak to twelve games. Shots were 8-1 Penguins.

Then the Crunch took over.

Vlad Namestnikov on a power play goal with Adam Payerl setting an unintentional screen beats Vokoun near post. Wilkes-Barre gets a power play and do nothing with it. Carter Rowney slashes a guy to break up a Crunch rush. On the ensuing power play for Syracuse, Jonathan Marchessault centers to Jon DiSalvatore on a bang-bang play that puts the Crunch ahead 2-1.

The Penguins outshot the Crunch 8-1 in the games first 6:44 and then were outshot 11-0 by Syracuse the final 13:16 of the period.

Second Period: It was a Wilkes-Barre power play clinic. The Pens were given four consecutive power plays in the period, but scored on only one of them. Chuck Kobasew (again) scored on a backhander as he cashed in on a rebound of a shot from the point. Brett Connolly nearly scored on a penalty kill as he snaked around the Pens defenders and wrapped around and missed a wide open net. Of note, Bryan Rust had some late power play time.

Third Period: Penguins were really looking for the killshot, but never found it. No power plays in this period for either side. During the turn of events, Brian Dumoulin took a hard clean shot from Dalton Smith. Late, Desjardins made a couple of really nice saves to keep it square at two heading into….

Overtime: More Desjardins heroics. A stop on a Wilkes-Barre odd man rush up ice on Carter Rowney then a save on a Nick Drazenovic one timer.

Shootout: Anton Zlobin in Round 1, Spencer Machacek in Round 5. Tomas Vokoun stops all four Crunch players and Wilkes-Barre skates away with the two points.

Three Stars: 3) Vlad Namestnikov (goal, even) 2) Cedrick Desjardins (29 saves on 31 shots) and 1) Chuck Kobasew (two goals, even)

Around the Division: Hershey loses to Binghamton 5-4 in overtime…Norfolk does the same in Providence 2-1.

Other Games that Matter: Albany beats Bridgeport 2-1 in regulation. St. John’s was idle tonight.

Magic Number: One. Any point tomorrow by Wilkes-Barre should, conceivably, seal a twelfth straight trip to the dance.

Standings: Binghamton 90 — Penguins 90 — Hershey 83 — Norfolk 82 — Syracuse 70

Conference: 1) MCH (100) 2) SPR (96) 3) BNG (90) 4) STJ (93) 5) WBS (90) 6) PRO (88) 7) ALB (85) 8) HER (83)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were in Cincinnati tonight and lost 6-3. Eric Hartzell was in net for this one and took the loss for the Nailers.

SendToNews Highlights: Are here.

Pens / B-Sens face-off tomorrow in what will likely be the biggest game of the season for both. East Division Championship up for grabs. A trip to the playoffs. Loser probably having to travel to St. John’s for Round 1 of the playoffs. Just tons of story lines. The Gameday setup will be here for you Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!!

GAMEDAY: @ Syracuse 4/11

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Away Game: 36

AHL Game: 1075

Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter

When: 7:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Sunday in Binghamton, the Pens lost 6-2. Spencer Machacek scored both goals. For Syracuse, the Crunch beat the Utica Comets in overtime, 6-5 in stunning, thrilling fashion. Jonathan Marchessault scored two shorthanded goals in :15 in the final two minutes of regulation.

Last Meeting: March 21 in Syracuse, the Pens shutout the Crunch 2-0. Peter Mannino had a 16 save shutout.

Record: For WBS: 40-23-3-5 (88 pts., 2nd place East Division) — For SYR: 29-30-4-7 (69 pts., 5th place East Division)

Why you should care: Penguins can clinch playoffs this weekend. Another strong performance in Syracuse should get them one step closer.

Referee(s): Trevor Hanson / Jean-Philippe Sylvain

Linesmen: John Everett / Francis Trempe

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /syracusecrunch

Instagram: wbspenguins / officialsyracusecrunch

Beat Writers: @CVBombulie / @PSCrunchHockey

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS / For SYR: Dan D’Uva @Dan_DUva

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @Allovimo

Radio: For WBS: 103.1 WILK-FM  / For Syracuse: ESPN Radio 1200 AM

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Two of them. A Penguins win puts them in playoffs. But, they need help. Hershey and Norfolk have to lose in regulation. The Bears are in Binghamton and Norfolk is in Providence. Keep tabs on them tonight.

Remaining Games: BNG 4/12, TOR 4/13, @ BNG 4/18, @ UTI 4/19

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