Chirps from Center Ice

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

AHL Power Rankings: Week 2

In the Week 2 version of the 2016-17 Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings, I give you three things to look for.

The two peskiest teams in each Conference and the most surprising team overall.

The best team? Well you won’t have to look far, it’s the number one team this week. I won’t spoil it for you if you just happened here without a link in, so jump through to find out who and where your favorite team ended up this week.

Read more of this post

Sigh-Mon, the Bears Lost! — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

WBS        @       HER

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Three things I always want when doing this blog.

1) Thoughtful, original, content to provide you the reader. If I struggle putting words together then I know that people will struggle in reading it and probably not come back. 2,000 posts and climbing here on the blog, I’d say that’s not a problem.

2) Internet connection to see me through what I am trying to do in “covering” the team.

3) Silly pun headlines. Tonight I will admit is a bit of stretch.

Dominik Simon’s overtime game winning penalty shot goal is enough to give the Penguins the 2-1 overtime win over the rival Hershey Bears. It caps off a four point weekend (out of a possible six) where the Penguins only allowed a sum total of three goals all weekend. The defense is spectacular right now and the goaltending, excellent. This is what wins hockey games and ultimately championships.

Goofy puns and reasons for why I do things aside, Tristan Jarry opposed Vitek Vanacek Sunday afternoon.

Lines were…

Jake Guentzel – Tom Kostopoulos – Carter Rowney
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – J-S Dea
Scott Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Patrick McGrath – Jarrett Burton – Ryan Haggerty

Reid McNeill – Chad Ruhwedel
Tim Erixon – Steve Oleksy
Cameron Gaunce – Barry Goers

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: No changes to the blue line. Patrick McGrath and Oskar Sundqvist were in for Reid Gardiner and Adam Krause. I don’t know why they took Gardiner out of the lineup, I said last night that there was no real reason to take him out.

First Period: Back and forth period between the two teams. Shots ended up 11-8 Bears due to in large part of the Bears dominating offensive zone time in the games first sequences. Both goalies made great saves on attempts by the other side.

The biggest play in the period was this disallowed goal by Tom Kostopoulous:

Referee Pierre Lambert was right there and immediately washed out the goal. The Penguins would challenge the call to no avail and if you look at the video (referees look at the overhead view) you could see Kostopoulos bend his leg to kind of redirect the puck into the net. Really sneaky play by Kostopoulos there, but the correct call of no goal was made by the officiating staff.

Second Period: Pens failure to cash on the power play bit them in this period. They had a regular power play then :55 of full five on three and were unable to score. So, as Hershey is able to dodge those bullets, they take the lead with this play:

That was Riley Barber. Play described by color man Nick Hart:

So the Pens were looking for any kind of spark, with the offense struggling this weekend getting shut out by Springfield Friday and sputtering along a bit Saturday in a win against Syracuse going into the…

Third Period: They got it. In the form of their big players.

First, Jake Guentzel tipped in this Chad Ruhwedel shot that tied the game at one:

Then, with the game clock winding down, Tristan Jarry made save after save keeping his team in it. You could tell that the Penguins were gassed in the third period of their third game in as many days. Jarry made the saves necessary to force…

Overtime: In overtime, both teams possessed the puck in the 3-on-3, but it was Dominik Simon that won the game when he was fouled from behind by Madison Bowey giving the Penguins an overtime penalty shot…

Bada boom.

Realest guy in the room!

How you doin’?!

So the Penguins allow just three goals all weekend and are by far the best defensive team in the Eastern Conference. They take home 4 out of a possible 6 points with two of their prized defensemen (Warsofsky and Percy) out of the lineup. Season is off to a bright start.

Three Stars: 3) Vitek Vanacek (33 saves on 35 shots) 2) Dominik Simon (overtime game winning penalty shot goal, +1) and 1) Tristan Jarry (30 saves on 31 shots)

Around the Division: The Albany Devils will come to town Wednesday night 5-0 after beating the Providence Bruins 4-3 in overtime today… St. John’s beats Hartford 5-2.

Standings: Springfield and Wilkes-Barre with 6 points a piece, Bridgeport and Hartford with 4, Lehigh Valley, Hershey and Providence all with 3.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off, they open a home and home with Kalamazoo next weekend.

Video highlights…

I’ll have my “Wheeling Wrap” feature Tuesday at noon here on the blog looking back at the weekend that was for our ECHL affiliate. Please check that out then. The Week 2 AHL Power Rankings hit the blog Monday at 4.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Hershey 10/23

@     her14_200

Away Game: 1

AHL Game: 58

Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Giant Center

When: 5:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night at home vs. Syracuse, the Pens won 3-1. Kevin Porter scored two shorthanded goals and assisted on another. For Hershey, the Eastern Conference Champions had their home opener against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and won 5-2. Chris Bourque didn’t score, but he had two assists. Joe Cannata had stopped 24 of 26 shots and picked up his first win of the season in a Bears jersey.

Record: For WBS: 2-1-0-0 (4 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division) — For HER: 1-2-0-0 (2 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: Always fun when the Bears and Penguins meet up. This is the first of 12 meeting against the Bears. Hershey will be the more rested team having not played Friday or traveled at all this weekend. Pens will need to jump out to a good start if they want to be around in the third period.

Referee(s): Pierre Lambert / Peter MacDougall

Linesmen: Tom DellaFranco / Tom George

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @TheHersheyBears

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /TheHersheyBears

Instagram: wbspenguins / thehersheybears

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS and Nick Hart @_NickHart // HER: Zack Fisch @zackfisch

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @ChocHockey

Radio: For WBS: WILK News Radio / For Hershey: 1460 The Ticket 

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: The only Eastern Conference / Western Conference crossover that occurs this year in the AHL is the Manitoba / Toronto series. The two teams rematch this afternoon.

Next Five Games: ALB 10/26, @ SPR 10/29, SYR 10/30, BNG 11/4, @ BRI 11/5

Kevin’s Short Hands — Pens WIN 3-1

SYR        vs.        WBS

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Two shorthanded goal by Kevin Porter 1:19 apart in the second period were enough for Casey DeSmith and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to get past the Syracuse Crunch by a score of 3-1. Porter assisted on a Dominik Simon goal in crunch time (no pun intended) in the third period also.

Strange game to recap really. Syracuse was a mess on the power play and there were a lot of them, 13 in total, but referees Keith Kaval and Pierre Lambert were forced into making the calls on what was blatant fouls.

Casey DeSmith opposed Adam Wilcox. It was DeSmith’s first start of the season.

Lines were…

Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Reid Gardiner
Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Josh Archibald
Adam Krause – Jarrett Burton – Ryan Haggerty

Reid McNeill – Chad Ruhwedel
Tim Erixon – Steve Oleksy
Cameron Gaunce – Barry Goers

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry.

Patrick McGrath skated warmups. Here were the lineup changes:

Stuart Percy is week to week with a lower body injury per Clark Donatelli as told to the WBS media after the game. More on him in a minute. Ethan Prow was recalled from Wheeling earlier today but did not dress. Barry Goers took his spot on the blue line. The biggest knock against Percy is that he cannot stay healthy. He missed a lot of time last year with the Toronto Marlies last year and hasn’t really played a full season since 2013-14. Remember though that Josh Archibald initially was considered week to week and he never missed a game. So who knows, but it doesn’t look good for Percy.

The other lineup changes were Oskar Sundqvist out tonight because he is still banged up and Donatelli didn’t want him to play three straight games this weekend. Adam Krause and Jarrett Burton were in for Sundqvist and Sahir Gill. Reid Gardiner bumped up to the second line.

First Period: Old teammates Reid McNeill and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond fought about midway through the period. This was the turning point for the Penguins in the game because they were being outshot and all of their shot attempts were being blocked. Leblond, the pro that he is in fighting, yoked up McNeill and didn’t allow much fists thrown, but Pierre was cut in the fight, either by a fist or the edge of a helmet.

Casey DeSmith was named second star of the game, and he earned it, as his key stops in the first period really kept the Penguins around. There wasn’t any scoring in the first period, but a lot of what happened in the first set things up for the game.

Second Period: Adam Wilcox had a great save in full splits on Carter Rowney while the Pens were on a power play. Pens were outshooting the Crunch 12-4 since the McNeill fight.

Then, Kevin Porter scored his first shorthanded goal. Porter got free after Reid McNeill got a stick on puck, cleared to Josh Archibald who found Porter who put it over Wilcox’s shoulder to make it 1-0 Penguins. It had been nearly 98 minutes between goals for the Penguins.

Penguins killed the Crunch power play easy, then had to kill another. Porter couldn’t do it again, could he? He could! He created a turnover and again, beat Wilcox over the shoulder to make it 2-0 Wilkes-Barre.

Cory Conacher would score on a change up of a shot while the Crunch were on the same power play that made it 2-1. The penalty kill run ended at 13.

Syracuse would continue to take penalties and the Penguins had a few good chances to score heading into the…

Third Period: Felt like to this point that the Penguins were nursing a 2-1 lead, given what happened the night prior against Springfield and the fact that you don’t normally see two shorthanded goals by the same player in the same game, and with this being only a one goal game, it sure felt like Syracuse was going to score, it was only a matter of time.

They didn’t. They continued to struggle on the power play and Casey DeSmith continued to make nice saves, getting over to stop a Tanner Richard one timer while the Crunch were on a power play.

Reid Gardiner is indeed that diamond in the rough type player I mentioned when I had the crazy idea to do brief blurbs on the bodies that the Penguins invited to training camp as part of a blog post. He has played like someone that does not want to be taken out of the lineup. Promoted to the second line tonight, Gardiner had a hell of a shift where he separated a man from a puck and created a scoring chance. You cannot take him out of the lineup right now.

Dominik Simon put home his first of the year at 15:45, a bar down and in shot that iced it for the Penguins.

DeSmith, with Wilcox vacated and the Crunch playing with an extra man, stopped any chance by the Crunch to come back. In one sequence, he had a nice save with a blocker and in another he gloved a Mike Halmo deflection from a Cory Conacher blast from the blue line.

Three Stars: 3) Dominik Simon (goal, +1) 2) Casey DeSmith (26 saves on 27 shots) and 1) Kevin Porter (two goals, assist, +3)

Milestones: Kevin Porter is the first player since Jonathan Filewich with two shorthanded goals in one game (December 23, 2006 vs. Norfolk) … Tim Erixon played in his 200th AHL game.

Around the Division: Hershey beats Bridgeport 5-2 in the Bears home opener…Hartford beats Lehigh Valley 5-4 in overtime. Phantoms scored three goals in the third to force overtime…Springfield wins in its home opener in front of a sold out crowd 5-4 in overtime against the St. John’s IceCaps. Providence was off.

Standings: Springfield with 6 points, Penguins, Hartford and Bridgeport with 4, Lehigh Valley with 3 and Hershey and Providence with 2.

Wheeling Update: Cincinnati beat the Nailers in Ohio tonight 2-1. Garrett Meurs scored the only goal for the Nailers in the loss. I’ll have more on the Nailers week as part of the Wheeling Wrap on Tuesday.

Video Highlights: Are here…

Pens travel to Hershey Sunday for a 5 p.m. meeting against the Bears. Gameday for this affair hits the blog Sunday at 1.

Let’s Go Pens!


Two shorthanded goals by Kevin Porter 1:19 apart and an assist on a Dominik Simon third period goal are enough for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to get by the Syracuse Crunch 3-1 with a new look lineup. 

More on the blog in a bit. 

GAMEDAY: vs. Syracuse 10/22

vs.     syr14_200

Home Game: 3

AHL Game: 56

Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last night at home against Springfield, the Pens lost 1-0. Reto Berra made 23 saves and the Thunderbirds blocked a boatload of shots. For Syracuse, they hosted Utica and lost 5-4. The Comets cashed on the two power plays awarded. Gabriel Dumont was named first star of the game with two goals and an assist.

Record: For WBS: 1-1-0-0 (2 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division) — For SYR: 2-1-0-0 (4 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Why you should care: Crunch were in a track meet last night with the Comets and lost. Penguins were in a defensive battle last night with the Thunderbirds last night and lost. Does fast and loose prevail or is the team that is better on defense win tonight?

Referee(s): Pierre Lambert / Keith Kaval

Linesmen: Ryan Knapp / Jason Mandroc

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /syracusecrunch

Instagram: wbspenguins / officialsyracusecrunch

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky // @syrhockey

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

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @CrunchSyracuse

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Syracuse: ESPN Radio Central New York

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): None

Other Game to Watch: Defending Calder Cup champion Cleveland head to Grand Rapids to take on the Griffins. Both teams are off to good starts.

Next Five Games: @ HER 10/23, ALB 10/26, @ SPR 10/29, SYR 10/30, BNG 11/4

Berra Luck Next Time — Pens LOSE 1-0

button_hfd200          vs.          WBS

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I’m not a journalist, but games like these must be fun for those guys whose names you see in the paper after every Penguins game. Tom and Seth must love games like these.

Goaltender battle where there isn’t anything out of the ordinary extracurricular wise that steals away from the main game story. Player A scores the only goal for Team A and Team B can’t do anything to get a puck past Team A. Quotes on how guys fought hard and will take a positive out of giving up just one goal in a loss fills out whatever space the copy editor back at the sports desk allows for that night.

A 1-0 Springfield Thunderbirds win tonight. A seemingly harmless Ryan Horvat shot in the first period that Tristan Jarry can make a save on in his sleep gets by. Reto Berra stops all 23 shots sent his way and the Thunderbirds steal one in Wilkes-Barre.

One thing I noticed in stark contrast to the Hartford game last Saturday was Springfield’s speed. The Wolf Pack seemed stuck in mud all game and the Penguins ran circles around them. Not tonight. It was Springfield that took it to the Penguins early.

Reto Berra opposed Tristan Jarry.

Lines were…

Jake Guentzel – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – J-S Dea
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Reid Gardiner – Sahir Gill – Ryan Haggerty

Reid McNeill – Chad Ruhwedel
Stuart Percy – Steve Oleksy
Cameron Gaunce – Tim Erixon

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

David Warsofsky was recalled by Pittsburgh earlier in the day. Derrick Pouliot was placed on injured reserve. The Penguins swapped out Patrick McGrath up front for Reid Gardiner, making his pro debut, and Warsofsky for Reid McNeill.

First Period: Thunderbirds jump all over the Penguins from the start, outshooting them 8-2. Then Ryan Horvat scores on his lucky shot that Jarry doesn’t get the pad down on and lets in for a 1-0 Thunderbirds lead.

Penguins get a penalty kill, it was perfect this evening, and get some jump from the success of the kill but aren’t able to manufacture a goal.

Second Period: Berra’s best save of the night came in full splits with the glove from a Stuart Percy blast from the blue line ticketed for the back of the net. Later, Cameron Gaunce was roughed giving the Penguins a power play. I thought at the time that it had the feel of a turning point, but Springfield blocked a ton of shots in the game.

Tristan Jarry made tremendous saves giving his team the opportunity to tie the game. I said in the Rapid Recap that I felt he was the better of the two goaltenders this evening despite the loss.

Third Period: The biggest thing to happen in this period was Josh Archibald leaving the ice after taking a puck to the mouth. The update after the game was that he was cut, and should be fine, as told to the WBS media.

Berra made one save at the buzzer with Jarry vacated for the extra man off of a deflection which would hav =e counted, but the Penguins never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Tristan Jarry (22 saves on 23 shots) 2) Ryan Horvat (goal, +1) and 1) Reto Berra (23 save shutout)

Around the Division: Bridgeport beats Lehigh Valley 5-2. Sound Tigers struck three times in the second and twice in the third….St. John’s, after starting the season 0-3, spent all week in Providence this week and beat the Bruins 4-1. Hartford and Hershey were off.

Standings: Early days, but Springfield and Bridgeport with 4 points each, Wilkes-Barre, Hartford, Lehigh Valley and Providence with 2 and Hershey with 0.

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off. They are in Cincinnati Saturday.

If the Pens run a video highlight package tonight, I’ll edit it in here. There were no fights, so I don’t know what, other than the Horvat fluke goal and maybe a few saves from Berra and Jarry, they can come up with. It would make a blogger happy though.

Gameday setup for Saturday’s game against Syracuse hits the blog Saturday at 3.