Chirps from Center Ice

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

Tuesday Notes 12/18

A couple things to catch you up on here before the midweek game against Bridgeport Wednesday night. Here goes:

Dave Hakstol is out as head coach in Philly and the Flyers hire from within and tab Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon as interim coach in Philadelphia.

Staying with the, “next man up” idea, Kerry Huffman, an assistant of Gordon’s in Allentown, is the new man behind the Phantoms bench, for now. The release says that they are looking for a new head coach.

Basically how that is going to go is that Huffman will get 5-7 games as head coach. If the Phantoms do good in those games, he keeps the job. If not, they look for someone new.

Back locally, J-S Dea was re-assigned down from Pittsburgh Tuesday morning.

Also, Garrett Wilson is on waivers. If he goes unclaimed, Pittsburgh can send him here. If he does, don’t look for it to happen immediately. The NHL holiday roster freeze is coming. Pittsburgh wants that flexibility in case they get a healthy forward or two back from injury.

Tyler reports that Thomas DiPauli is week to week. He joins other week to weekers Sam Miletic and Chris Summers.

Wilkes-Barre should be OK for now, getting Dea and possibly Wilson back.

Old buddy Tom Sestito comes out of retirement and signs on with the Toronto Marlies. In case you are wondering, Wilkes-Barre and Toronto don’t lock up again until March 17.

Bridgeport is in Wednesday and will be without the services of Stephen Gionta, who was suspended three games by the AHL for boarding in Sunday’s game. Gionta was the one that injured or finished off Thomas DiPauli, who you will recall was stung by a Kevin Czuczman shot in the first period on Sunday, was tangled with with Gionta in the second and didn’t return. Coal Street must have thought the hit was egregious enough to warrant a review by the brain trust in Springfield and the gamble worked. There was no penalty on the play.

Finally, Friday’s game at Hershey will be the AHL’s Facebook Watch Game of the Week. It’s free to anyone who has a Facebook account. Hershey’s feed is one of the best in the AHL with multiple angles and has been broadcast in high definition for years now. Check it out if you can find the time Friday.

Gameday setup will hit the blog for Wednesday’s game with Bridgeport at 3 p.m. Until then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Gibson Gem — Pens LOSE 1-0


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The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had six chances on the power play Sunday afternoon in Bridgeport and weren’t able to get anything going on any six of them that would be considered a serious threat.

Not that Bridgeport goaltender Christopher Gibson was going to let anything by, anyway.

33 saves for Gibson and the five game winning streak for Wilkes-Barre ends in Bridgeport, Penguins lose 1-0.

Lines were…

Thomas Di Pauli – Teddy Blueger – Anthony Angello
Adam Johnson – Sam Lafferty – Ben Sexton
Joseph Cramarossa – Linus Ölund – Ryan Haggerty
Troy Josephs – Jarrett Burton – Jimmy Hayes

Kevin Czuczman – Tim Erixon
Jeff Taylor – Will O’Neill
Matt Abt – Ethan Prow

Tristan Jarry backed up Anthony Peters.

No changes to the line up for the Penguins.

First Period: Wilkes-Barre was hit with a penalty for an illegal starting lineup. I think what happened there was Tristan Jarry’s name was circled instead of Anthony Peters. They had to kill that penalty and then a Will O’Neill penalty for cross checking right after that but were able to get out of it OK.

But then Sebastian Aho found room in the slot, made a move and scored to put the Sound Tigers on the board first.

Penguins had two power plays to close out the period but were unable to capitalize.

Second Period: Jarrett Burton missed a penalty shot when he was hooked down.

The Pens lost Thomas DiPauli in the period. He was injured by a Kevin Czuczman shot in the first period then got tangled up with Stephen Gionta in the second period. He left the ice and didn’t return for the remainder of the period or the game.

Going back to the first, Bridgeport took four consecutive penalties but Wilkes-Barre was not able to score on any of them. The score remained 1-0 in favor of the Sound Tigers heading into the…

Third Period: The penalties on both sides continues. Linus Ölund had a chance shorthanded. Sound Tigers hit two posts on one shift. Peters and Gibsons continued their goalie duel. Penguins had some chances late on a power play, but weren’t able to solve Gibson. With Peters pulled for the extra attacker, they never were able to find the equalizer.

The Good: Sound Tigers power play is very dangerous, Penguins kept them off the board on five attempts.

The Bad: I don’t want to say that Clark Donatelli’s illegal lineup set the tone of the game, but coming off of two consecutive penalty kills, Aho scored the only goal of the game that turned into the game winner. Does that happen if Peters name is circled on the card instead of Tristan Jarry’s? Your guess is as good as mine.

On the illegal lineup, it has happened before. A lot, actually, as Darryl Hunt looked back on Roy Sommer’s follies during his time with the Worcester Sharks.

Three Stars: 3) Sebastian Aho (goal) 2) Anthony Peters (24 saves on 25 shots) 1) Christopher Gibson (33 save shutout)

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Around the Division: Charlotte continues to roll, 2-1 winners in overtime against Utica. Springfield beats Hershey 4-1. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Charlotte 45 — Bridgeport 38 — Lehigh Valley 32 — Penguins 32 — Springfield 31 — Providence 29 — Hartford 25 — Hershey 24

Wheeling Update: Nailers double up Fort Wayne 6-3 at home, Cam Brown continues his tear with two goals. Renars Krastenbergs also had a pair of goals.

Highlights: If the Sound Tigers put them up and I’m near a computer, I will work the edit in here.

Pens are back in action on Wednesday at home against Bridgeport again. Christopher Gibson will undoubtedly get the start again for the Sound Tigers. Gameday setup hits the blog Wednesday at 3, barring any breaking news beforehand.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Bridgeport 12/16


Who: Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Where: Webster Bank Arena

When: 3:00 p.m.

Last Game: Last night at home against Lehigh Valley, the Pens won 5-2. Ryan Haggerty had a hat trick, Teddy Blueger and Sam Lafferty also scores shorthanded goals. For Bridgeport, the Sound Tigers hosted the Springfield Thunderbirds and won 5-3. Michale Del Colle scored two goals.

Last Meeting: Last Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens won 3-1. Teddy Blueger, Ethan Prow and Jeff Taylor scored for the Penguins. Anthony Peters stopped 21 of 22, getting beat by Otto Koivula only.

Record: For WBS: 14-10-3-1 (32 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division) // For BRI: 16-8-3-1 (36 pts., 2nd place North Division)

Referees: Peter Tarnaris / Peter Schlittenhardt

Linesmen: Nick Briganti / Brian Pincus

Why You Should Care: Sound Tigers have taken a point in their last 13 games at home. The Penguins sit four points behind Bridgeport coming into this afternoons affair. They can cut it to two with a solid effort like the one that carried them to a win last night against Lehigh Valley. Big test for both sides coming in this afternoon.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Other Game to Watch: Tucson visits Chicago as the class of the Pacific Division faces off against a very good Wolves team.

Next Five Games: vs. BRI 12/19, @ HER 12/21, @ SYR 12/22, vs. LV 12/26, vs. HER 12/28

Two Shorts, Three Hats, Five in a Row — Pens WIN 5-2


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That’s five wins in a row now for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

A complete domination on offense and defense, including special teams, and Wilkes-Barre rolls Lehigh Valley 5-2.

Ryan Haggerty had a hat trick, Sam Lafferty and Teddy Blueger had shorthanded goals. The Penguins abomination on the penalty kill in the past carried the Penguins Saturday night against the Phantoms.

Tristan Jarry opposed Carter Hart.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Tim Erixon slotted in for the injured (week to week) Chris Summers.

First Period: Penguins dominated shots, had long offensive shifts and threw a lot of shots at Hart, but nothing went in. 13-3 was the shout count for the Pens after twenty.

Second Period: All of that momentum that the Penguins charged out of the room with in the first was deflated when Philip Samuelsson scored through a crowd to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead.

But then the Penguins were able to score when Teddy Blueger scored shorthanded which set off an avalanche of stuffed animals for the annual Teddy Bear Toss. It was Blueger that did the honors last year against Rochester. Teddy unleashed the teddies? Sometimes the puns just write themselves.

Penguins made it 2-1 when Zach Palmquist turned over the puck in the neutral zone which set off Adam Johnson and Ryan Haggerty who finished for his first goal of the night and the Penguins were off to the races.

Haggerty again, a few minutes later, made it 3-1 when he tried to set up a one time slam dunk with Jeff Taylor for a goal that drew Hart out of position. Joseph Cramarossa kept it alive in front of the goal and Hggerty crashed and scored his second.

Phantoms get one back when Mike Vecchione scored. It was a changeup at Jarry that Vecchione pounced on that brought the Phantoms to within one.

A scrum at the end of the period saw Will O’Neill and Taylor Leier get game misconducts for secondary altercations when T.J. Brennan and Sam Lafferty got mixed up. Brennan had got things to a boiling point a few times tonight but when he was going to step across the line and be asked to answer for his line stepping, he seemed disinterested in actually engaging.

Third Period: Penalty fest that saw Wilkes-Barre on the short end. Maybe a month ago Lehigh Valley cashes on each power play individually and get back into the game, but it was on a Teddy Blueger slashing call that Anthony Angello dropped a pass for Sam Lafferty that made it 4-2 and essentially iced the game away for the Penguins. It was the second shorthanded goal of the night for Wilkes-Barre.

(Taylor or Coal Street didn’t GIF this sequence, or the Ryan Haggerty empty netter which made it 5-2, sorry)

Three Stars: 

The Good: Seems like a totally different team, doesn’t it? The Penguins dominated both ends of the rink and all sides of the puck tonight. Power play didn’t cash tonight, but that looked threatening as well. Ryan Haggerty is heating up in the absences of J-S Dea and Garrett Wilson. The penalty kill essentially won the game for Wilkes-Barre, tying the game in the second and then icing it away late.

The Bad: The Good doesn’t happen without the bad, Wilkes-Barre took three penalties nursing a one goal lead in the third. While some of them were tacky tack called by inexperienced referees, playing with that kind of fire will get you burned more times than not.

Around the Division: Charlotte keeps winning, this time 3-2 over the Hartford Wolf Pack who are swept in North Carolina….Bridgeport beats Springfield 5-3….Providence crushes Hershey 6-2.

Standings: Charlotte 43 — Bridgeport 36 — Lehigh Valley 32 — Penguins 32 — Springfield 31 — Providence 29 — Hartford 25 — Hershey 24

Wheeling Update: Nailers crush the Norfolk Admirals at home, 5-1. Cam Brown had two goals and two assists.

Video Highlights: 

Pens are bussing to Bridgeport for a 3 p.m. start against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Gameday setup will hit the blog Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

Let’s Go Pens!


A Ryan Haggerty hat trick, two shorthanded goals and five wins in a row for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton as the Penguins defeat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5-2 on Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.

More in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Lehigh Valley 12/15


Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday in Springfield, the Penguins won 2-1 in a shootout. Adam Johnson scored a goal in regualtion and also in the shootout. Tristan Jarry returned from Pittsburgh and stopped 34 shots. For Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms hosted the Belleville Senators on Friday night and won 4-1. Carsen Twarynski had a pair of goal, Chris Conner had two assists and Carter Hart stopped 25 of 26 shots.

Last Meeting: October 20 in Wilkes-Barre, the Phantoms won 6-3. German Rubtsov scored two goals for the Phantoms. Sam Miletic scored tow goals for the Penguins. Both players are currently injured and will not play tonight.

Record: For WBS: 13-10-3-1 (30 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division) // For LV: 15-8-1-1 (32 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Referees: Andrew Bruggeman / Alex Normandin

Linesmen: Jud Ritter / Jason Mandroc

Why You Should Care: Penguins should have the upper hand tonight with being well rested after being off Friday and with Lehigh Valley missing key forwards up front. However, that doesn’t automatically guarantee two points for the Pens Wilkes-Barre will need to do exactly what they did in the last four games that they have now won, in a row, to get them past a very good Lehigh Valley team.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Promotion(s): For Season Ticket Holders: Your glove voucher. Support the Tobyhanna Teddy Bear Toss  by bringing a new, unwrapped, stuffed animal to the game and toss it onto the ice after the Penguins first goal.  All toys will be collected and distributed to children in need throughout northeast Pennsylvania.

Other Game to Watch: Springfield visits Bridgeport in a game among two very good Atlantic Division teams.

Next Five Games: @ BRI 12/16, vs. BRI 12/19, @ HER 12/21, @ SYR 12/22, vs. LV 12/26

AHL Power Rankings: Week 10

We are ten weeks into the AHL season and it looks like there are two ends of the spectrum to be had.

San Jose, Charlotte, Iowa and some combination of Rochester and Syracuse are really really good while San Diego, Toronto and Laval are struggling.

Now is there time to turn things around if you are in the bottom third? Of course there is. They haven’t even named All-Stars yet and the action doesn’t really start cranking until after that anyhow.

San Jose jumps to the top spot in this weeks Rankings followed closely by Charlotte who, after a blip last week, jump back to second. Syracuse and Rochester fill the top four while Tucson, who we criminally underrated last week by dropping them out of the top ten, goes back to where they belong in the top five.

Go past the Roadrunners if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.


Last Week: SJ 4 @ BAK 2, BAK 0 @ SJ 4
A rightful number one spot for San Jose this week after crushing Bakersfield this past week. Barracuda have only three losses. (!!!)


This Week: @ SD 12/15, @ ONT 12/16, @ SD 12/19
Record: 15-3-1-2


Last Week: CHA 7 @ HFD 4, CHA 5 @ SPR 4 (OT)
Saturday’s last second comeback victory in Springfield is sure to open the eyes of the doubters that this Checkers team should be taken and kept seriously.


This Week: vs. HFD 12/13, vs. HFD 12/15, vs. UTI 12/16, vs. UTI 12/18
Record: 19-6-1-0


Last Week: BNG 0 @ SYR 5, RCH 4 @ SYR 3, SYR 8 @ TOR 1
Crunch stay third this week with big wins against lesser talented teams. They can’t seem to catch Rochester just yet though.


This Week: @ LAV 12/14, @ LAV 12/15, @ SPR 12/19
Record: 14-6-2-0


Last Week: PRO 1 @ RCH 2, RCH 4 @ SYR 3, BNG 5 @ RCH 1
Amerks stay four clear of second place Crunch here in mid-December. Two tough matchups with Cleveland coming up.


This Week: vs. CLE 12/14, @ CLE 12/15, vs. BEL 12/19
Record: 16-7-2-0


Last Week: ONT 3 @ TUC 4 (SO), ONT 0 @ TUC 5, COL 1 @ TUC 2, COL 2 @ TUC 0
Played two tight ones with Colorado. San Jose may be the class of the AHL now, but watching Tucson and Colorado battle it out is going to be fun.


This Week: @ CHI 12/15, @ CHI 12/16
Record: 15-6-2-1

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