Chirps from Center Ice

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

More Cuts 10/3

Pittsburgh cut down their roster to what is most likely what they are going to head into the season with October 8 in Dallas.

To Wilkes-Barre: Forwards Bryan Rust and Jean-Sebastian Dea; Defenseman Derrick Pouliot

To Waivers for the purposes of assignment to Wilkes-Barre: Forward Kevin Porter and Defenseman David Warsofsky

Released: Sergei Gonchar


— I didn’t watch a second of NHL preseason games for Pittsburgh but from what I read, Derrick Pouliot had a rough preseason and was one of the worst players at plus / minus in the NHL. He is not subject to waivers and others that performed better were, so Pouliot was the odd man out.

— I don’t think that Pouliot stays here the whole season. His pedigree is much too great to keep him buried in the minors.

— Remaining up with Pittsburgh for the time is Tim Erixon and Adam Clendening (two defensemen that are subject to waivers, remember Pouliot isn’t) Daniel Sprong (can’t be sent to the AHL because he does not meet the minimum age requirement) and Bobby Farnham (who is also subject to waivers) Tom Kuhnhackl is hurt and can get sent back once he recovers.

— Jonathan scratched together a depth chart. He left off AHL contracted players Tom Kostopoulos, Carter Rowney and Barry Goers.

Seth tried to, and as Tom eluded to, this is the deepest pool of talent that Wilkes-Barre has in a while. Folks, this team is loaded for bear and will contend this season. Hell, it is going to need to to contend in Pennsylvania, let alone the Atlantic Division. Hershey and Lehigh Valley are going to be good this year also.

— Finally, the door is open for Sergei Gonchar to sign on with Wilkes-Barre. I am not saying that it is going to happen, but Pittsburgh used the same buzzwords when they let go of Tom Sestito. If he wants to stay in the organization, there is a spot at the table down in Wilkes-Barre. If Gonchar can’t find NHL work someplace else (his options are slim) and he wants to stay in an organization where he is loved and revered, and if the competitive fire still burns, who knows? Perhaps he signs on and is with Wilkes-Barre for a spell.

Back later for the recap of the preseason game down in Hershey later on.

Preseason Game #2 – Penguins 2, Albany 1 (OT)

Two things from this game. One, the play of Tristan Jarry, who started in goal for tonight and played the entire game and the other the play of offseason acquisition Kael Mouillerat.

Jarry stopped 19 of 20 shots and was outstanding (for a preseason game) and Mouillerat was an offensive threat every time he had the puck. That’s a scouting report that has followed him around all of his career, really.

The Penguins won the game tonight 2-1 in overtime off of a goal by the aforementioned Mouillerat and the sound play in net by the young Jarry, who faced a 1:42 of overtime penalty killing.

The Penguins were in preseason action Friday night for the final time at home against the Albany Devils. Before the game, Friday morning actually, Wilkes-Barre announced the signing of Tom Sestito, who was cut by Pittsburgh earlier this week.

Lines were…

Scott Wilson-Kael Mouillierat-Conor Sheary
Anton Zlobin-Carter Rowney-Ty Loney
Dominik Uher-Sahir Gill-Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito-Matia Marcantuoni-Tyler Biggs

Will O’Neill-Steve Oleksy
Niclas Andersen-Harrison Ruopp
Reid McNeill-Barry Goers

Tristan Jarry – Brian Foster

First period was scoreless. Penguins came out flying, shots at one point were heavily favored for the Pens. Neither team did anything memorable on the power play. Both Scott Wedgewood for the Devils and Jarry for the Penguins were leaving rebounds all over the place.

Foreshadowing by Mouillerat this period. He got open, got around guys and got shots off in the first.

The second period started and out of the gate Anton Zlobin was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot. Wedgewood batted it away with the glove.

Best save of the period was a Tristan Jarry one on a Jim O’Brien blast.

Later, Conor Sheary broke the scoreless deadlock with a nice shot off some tic tac toe work from Scott Wilson:

Pens found themselves on a 5-on-3, but Albany killed it all off. The Penguins really worked the Devils in this period but weren’t able to get anything other than the Sheary goal.

Albany got on the board after the Penguins were unable to score in an extended power play time when they were running around all over and didn’t actually do anything. A Reid McNeill defensive zone turnover to Joseph Blandisi caught everyone off guard, Jarry included, and the Devils were off and running.

But ultimately it was the Penguins with the last laugh when Mouillerat ended it:

Here’s (bad) video…

Three stars were: 3) Joe Blandisi with a goal for Albany, 2) Conor Sheary with a goal for the Penguins and 1) Kael Mouillierat with the overtime game winner for the Penguins. Jarry deserved a star in my opinion and in my opinion a spot on the team. But, that is yet to be determined. If Pittsburgh wants him to play, he will go to Wheeling. I think that happens but time will tell.

I am telling you, the Albany Devils are going to give teams fits this season. They make you play a certain way and if you can’t adjust or take advantage you are going to get frustrated and lose. They could surprise some this season. Wedgewood especially. He was outstanding.

Elsewhere, actually just 90 minutes south of here, two ex-Penguins were in Hershey transactions. First, the Bears cut D Nick D’Agostino. He’ll report to the Bears ECHL affiliate South Carolina. Second, parent Washington cut old fan favorite Zach Sill. He is on waivers. If no one claims him, he should report to Hershey, where the Penguins play Saturday in more preseason action. Sullivan told the media that Matt Murray will get the start for the Penguins in net.

Preseason Game #1 – Penguins 4, Lehigh Valley 3

No goofy pun headlines or graphics for preseason games. I don’t even think I can link into a boxscore.

Anyway, the Penguins won tonight 4-3. They blitzkrieged with three goals in the first period, were blitzkrieged for three goals in the second before Adam Krause scored in the final minute in the second. Backup goaltender Casey DeSmith played a perfect third period in relief of starter Brian Foster.

Pens opened up the scoring early on in the first period. A Matthew Maione shot from the blue line was tipped in by Tom Kostopoulos in front for a quick 1-0 lead. About a minute later, the Pens rushed into the zone and Clark Seymour ripped one from the point for a 2-0 Penguin lead.

Penguins would go on the games first power play. Good looks, but did not score. Seconds after, Brett Stern fired one in from long range for a 3-0 Wilkes-Barre lead.

Lehigh Valley settled in after that, benefitting from two power plays, but Brian Foster was solid.

Phantoms opened the second with goals at the beginning, middle and end of the period. Wilkes-Barre would have last laugh though when Adam Krause stole a puck at center ice and raced in and scored to make it 4-3.

Phantoms goals were Taylor Leier on a backhander to make it 3-1, Kevin Sundher after a long sequence of play that saw the Pens fail to score on a 4-on-1. They were trapped deep and Sundher made it 3-2. Late, Lehigh Valley crashed the net, Dan Martel parked in front and muscled one past Foster to make it 3-3.

Here’s video of a second period fight involving Clark Seymour:

Casey DeSmith came in for Foster in relief in the third and played a fine game. He had to kill off two Phantoms power plays. He had some nice stops while Lehigh Valley were bearing down. Penguins had some chances with the most memorable being Ty Loney on a breakaway.

I don’t want to get took insightful on a preseason game with what the Penguins were / weren’t working on or focusing on in the third. Obviously, protect the lead and try to insulate the young DeSmith. When called upon, he was more than up to the challenge.

Fights included Patrick McGrath and Shane Bakker. Nothing memorable with McGrath and Bakker. Both are fighting for a spot come October 9 in Providence. Nick Petrecki, another one fighting for a spot, fought Derek Mathers in the third period and won on a right hand to Mathers jaw.

Anyway, so that’s that. The three stars were Shayne Bakker, Clark Seymour and Adam Krause in that order.

There were cuts made today. Pittsburgh sent goaltender Tristan Jarry; defensemen Barry Goers and Niclas Andersen; and forwards Tyler Biggs, Anton Zlobin, Josh Archibald, Dominik Simon and Matia Marcantuoni to Coal Street. They placed forwards Dominik Uher and Kael Mouillierat and defensemen Will O’Neill, Reid McNeill and Steve Oleksy on waivers. All five will also be assigned to WBS if they clear waivers on Thursday afternoon at 12 p.m. Pittsburgh cut Tom Sestito, who is free to sign with any team, anywhere.

Later, as in right after their preseason game with Detroit, Pittsburgh sent Matt Murray, Conor Sheary, Scott Wilson and Oscar Sundqvist to Coal Street.

Players still up with Pittsburgh that could get sent to Wilkes-Barre include Adam Clendening, Tim Erixon, Dave Warsofsky, JS Dea, Bobby Farnham, Tom Kuhnhackl, Kevin Porter and Bryan Rust. Of these players, Bobby Farnham, Adam Clendening, Tim Erixon, David Warsofsky, Tom Kuhnhackl and Kevin Porter would require waivers.

If anyone gets claimed at the noon deadline Thursday, I’ll drop a blog in then. Same goes if there are any moves made Thursday too. Otherwise, look for the next blog update to come Friday, when the Penguins play host to the Albany Devils in more preseason action.

Tuesday Notes 9/29

I don’t normally do pregame setups for preseason games because they are for large parts meaningless. So if you are looking for one Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. in advance of the first preseason game against Lehigh Valley, consider this it.

That said, Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan filled out his preseason lineup in advance of Wednesday’s matchup with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:05 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza:

Tom was later told by Sullivan that goaltender Brian Foster will start and play two periods and that backup Casey DeSmith will play the third period. It should be an interesting thing to watch. This could be your Wheeling tandem or one could potentially be backing up Matt Murry with Tristan Jarry starting in Wheeling. I think this is the most obvious position battle that you, if you wanted to come to tomorrow’s game and watch for battles, should focus on.

Tom also learned from Sullivan that Tom Kostopoulos will return as Penguins captain for the third straight season. That’s as obvious as the sunrise and sunset.

Carter Rowney is not included above but has been partaking in full practices. Rowney is going to be a key element for the Penguins going forward, so why risk injury.

I’ll have a stripped down version of a postgame recap Wednesday night.

Welcome Campers!

Coal Street announced today its preliminary roster and schedule for training camp, beginning Friday with players reporting and Saturday with on ice activities at the Toyota SportsPlex. Link here on the schedule and from that release a who is who…

Forwards (13) – Derek Army, Shane Bakker, Riley Brace, Jarrett Burton, Sahir Gill, Tom Kostopoulos, Adam Krause, Christophe Lalancette, Ty Loney, John McCarron, Patrick McGrath, Carter Rowney, and Cody Wydo.

Defensemen (7) – Mickaël Beauregard, Paul Cianfrini, Mathew Maione, Ryan Parent, Nick Petrecki, Clark Seymour, and Brett Stern.

Goaltenders (2) – Casey DeSmith and Brian Foster

Yeah, that’s Carter Rowney’s name on the list. He was released from Pittsburgh’s roster today.

Cuts will come from Pittsburgh and the roster will take better shape in the days and weeks ahead.

The Penguins play their first preseason game Wednesday, September 30 against the Albany Devils at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza at 7:05.

Defenseman In, Defenseman Out

Couple signings to note as we edge towards the first round of cuts in Pittsburgh and the start of training camp here in Wilkes-Barre…

–> Coal Street announced the signing of 6’3 defenseman Evan Wardley. Wardley, late of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, debuted as a professional this past Spring with the ECHL Wheeling Nailers. He has a boatload of penalty minutes, which means he plays a physical game that he can back up with his fists. Admittedly, I am now just making up words about the guy to fill a paragraph, but Wilkes-Barre must have seen enough of him and liked him so much that they offered him an AHL deal.

–> Nick D’Agostino found a home. Remember him? He was arguably, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen here in Wilkes-Barre during the slew of callups to Pittsburgh. His non-tender of a qualifying offer by Pittsburgh this past summer (he was a restricted free agent) came as a shock to me. He signed with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL today. If they name sounds familiar to you, they are the team that is the ECHL affiliate of none other than the Hershey Bears. Now D’Agostino signed an ECHL deal, meaning that he would need to sign an AHL deal with Hershey to play for them. Not saying that he would, but he could.

Goaltender Eric Hartzell remains the only member of last years team that remains unsigned.

That’s about it. Pittsburgh is in the midst of an eight game exhibition schedule. The hope here is not who wins or loses, it’s that no one gets hurt.

More later this week when the first round of cuts come down from Pittsburgh and when Wilkes-Barre announces a training camp roster.

A Camping We’ll Go, Just Don’t Be Late!

NHL training camps got going across the league this morning. The Pittsburgh Penguins started theirs today. Beat writers of old and new were in attendance. Start with Jonathan Bombulie, late of the Citizens Voice in Wilkes-Barre, and his observations of Day 1 of camp starting with Bobby Farnham. Farnham wants to make the team. I see it as a tough, if not impossible task, but Bobby is up to the challenge.

The new guy in town for the Voice, Seth Lakso, was there also with an emphasis on the players that will be joining Wilkes-Barre at some point. He also had a print version today of five things to expect this season of the 2015-16 version of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

Cleaning up some leftovers….

–> Wilkes-Barre signed John McCarron to an AHL deal this week. He captained the Cornell squad last year. Nothing flashy offensively, but the brass on Coal Street must see something in McCarron to ink him to an AHL pact. They have had success with unheralded Ivy Leaguers in the past you know.

–> Single game tickets to all Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins hockey games go on sale Setpember 21.

–> Last weekend in London, Ontario, the Penguins posted a picture of ex-Captain and all around good fellow Dave Gove. Gove was in Penguins gear helping out. You gotta learn how to read tea leaves when it comes to things like this. Gove has been retired from professional hockey for years now. Why all of a sudden is he back on the ice, “helping out?” Well, the answer was made know today. The Wheeling Nailers, the Penguins ECHL affiliate, announced that they have hired Gove as assistant coach to Clark Donatelli. Hell, the former captain named assistant coach Alain Nasreddine went with John Hynes to New Jersey, why not plant a seed and home grow another assistant coach? It makes sense.

–> To my headline, the New York Islanders sent highly Joshua Ho-Sang back to his OHL team, the Niagra IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League because he was late for training camp. You are a rookie taking the first step professionally in your career. You may not want to be late. First impressions are lasting ones.

–> Finally, some team an hour south of here was named number one AHL logo by The Hockey News magazine. You may have heard of them.

Have a great weekend.


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