Chirps from Center Ice

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

Syracuse Crunched — Pens WIN 5-1

SYR          @          NOR

5                                              1

Take what you want out of this one, a 5-1 win by the Penguins over the Syracuse Crunch.

It’s rare that you see a team go with seven defensemen on purpose. It’s even rarer that you see a team dress eight.

Such is the case for the Syracuse Crunch who, despite your groaning over the Pittsburgh Penguins recalling another Wilkes-Barre asset from Coal Street, have dealt with nonstop call-ups and send downs for months.

The most ridiculous part of all of this is that despite the daily, “Syracuse Crunch Transaction” on the AHL website, the Crunch lead the North Division.

But there in lies the other issue. The fifth place team in the Atlantic Division, whoever that may be at the end of the season, would probably win the North Division Championship outright. But they won’t, because they play in the Atlantic and there is no crossover this year. Syracuse, despite their call-ups and all, lead a division of misfit teams that probably wouldn’t contend night in and night against a steady stream of Wilkes-Barre, Lehigh Valley, Hershey, Providence and Bridgeport night after night, weekend after weekend.

So the Penguins were expected to go into Onondaga County War Memorial Arena tonight and win the way they did tonight. It’s a case of equal teams (division leaders pillaged by callups) who are haves vs. have nots.

Tristan Jarry opposed Kristers Gudlevskis.

Lines were….

Zach Aston-Reese – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Simon – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty
Thomas DiPauli – J-S Dea – Sahir Gill
Troy Josephs – Jarrett Burton – Adam Krause

Derrick Pouliot – David Warsofsky
Tim Erixon – Ethan Prow
Brett Stern – Barry Goers

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Sahir Gill was back in the lineup for Clark Donatelli getting in for the recalled Josh Archibald who went up Thursday in the wake of the Jake Guentzel concussion… Patrick McGrath was a scratch, eligible after serving his three game suspension… Ryan Segalla was the other healthy body who was not used this evening.

First Period: It was a game of back and forth between these two division leaders, and the Penguins made the most of their chances.

Wilkes-Barre didn’t get a shot on goal for about the first four and a half minutes, then laster Thomas DiPauli scored his second goal of the season on this nice low shot that beat Gudlevskis….

DiPauli used Dylan Blujus as a screen there.

Right after that goal, the Penguins were called for concurrent penalties and had to all of a sudden kill a full 2:00 of Crunch 5-on-3. They did so, successfully.

Later, Kevin Porter scored to double the Penguins lead at two on this nice drop pass by Zach Aston-Reese….

What sense by Aston-Reese there to leave a pass like that for Porter to corral and score on. Acute hockey sense right there in his second professional game.

Aston-Reese then found the net on his own when he scored this goal that chased Kristers Gudlevskis….

Mike McKenna came on in relief. The Penguins would then get a power play and looked to make it 4-0 and turn this one into a laugher, but then this happened…

Cory Conacher started the rush, Micheal Bournival kept up and tapped it in and Tristan Jarry had no chance.

So instead of it turning into a runaway by the Penguins, Syracuse got one back heading into the…

Second Period: You know things are going your way when Barry Goers throws a shot at the net from his own blue line that goes in and beats a future AHL Hall of Fame goaltender in Mike McKenna.

Tristan Jarry had a highlight reel save on Erik Condra, diving post to post to deny it becoming a sudden two goal lead.

Wilkes-Barre was basically gift wrapped penalty after penalty but were unable to capitalize on the power plays.

Here are the second period highlights. The Jarry save referenced above is at or around the :40 mark…

Third Period: After the Crunch killed a carryover penalty, Dominik Simon tapped this puck in that made it 5-1….

That was the put away goal that the Penguins needed that took all of the air out of the Crunch sails. Not that Syracuse was close at any point to here, but they would never get a run going.

The only other memorable thing to happen in the period of a 5-1 game last in the third against Syracuse was this little interaction with Tye McGinn of Syracuse and Tristan Jarry and J-S Dea of Wilkes-Barre / Scranton…

Jarry did his best Anthony Stolarz impersonation and flopped, a pile of bodies ensued and J-S Dea called McGinn a chicken using sign language. Tristan was fine, and obviously playing with the Crunch here late in the third.

Three Stars: 3) Michael Bournival (shorthanded goal, even) 2) Barry Goers (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Kevin Porter (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: The other PA teams in Hershey and Lehigh Valley were off tonight. The Phantoms just flew back from St. John’s and the Bears are there for a pair this weekend starting tomorrow. Providence wins 3-1 in Hartford to maintain the fourth and final spot in the Atlantic over Bridgeport, who was also idle tonight. Springfield was in Rochester tonight and were up 3-1 but lost 4-3 in overtime to the Americans.

Standings: Penguins (.700 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.677) — Hershey (.644) — Providence (.638) — Bridgeport (.623) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.369)

Sprong Watch: I am introducing a new feature here on the blog for the time being called, “Sprong Watch.” Daniel Sprong’s Charlottetown Islanders are in the QMJHL playoffs and in Game 1 tonight against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, the Islanders took Game 1 by a 4-2 final. Sprong had a goal and an assist in the contest. When the Charlottetown Islanders win the President’s Cup, Sprong should join Wilkes-Barre for the Calder Cup Playoffs should the Penguins get there. If the Islanders happen to fall short, then Sprong will be here sooner than that. But I figure it’s something to keep an eye on, so that’s what we will do. Game 2 of the Best of Seven series goes off Saturday from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Wheeling Update: Wheeling lost to the Idaho Steelheads 3-2.

Video highlights….

Pens travel to Allentown to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday at 7:05. Gameday setup hits the blog here Saturday afternoon at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Syracuse 3/24

@     syr14_200

Away Game: 32

AHL Game: 958

Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Onondaga County War Memorial Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Tuesday at home against Hartford, the Penguins won 5-3. Zach Aston-Reese made his pro debut and his first period goal stood up as the game winning goal. Casey DeSmith improved to 17-4. For Syracuse, the Crunch hosted Albany last Saturday and beat the Devils 2-1 in overtime. Matt Peca scored the overtime goal and Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 41 of 42 shots.

Last Meeting: January 25 in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. David Warsofsky scored the overtime game winner and Tristan Jarry stopped 39 of 41.

Record: For WBS: 43-18-3-0 (89 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For SYR: 32-21-6-5 (75 pts., 1st place North Division)

Why you should care: Penguins start an important three in three weekend against the Syracuse Crunch. It’s an important weekend for both teams who look to be playoff bound but aren’t just yet. Both of these division leaders will be looking to shrink that magic number tonight.

Referee(s): Evgenii Romasko / Furman South

Linesmen: Kory Nagy / Francois Dussureault

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /syracusecrunch

Instagram: wbspenguins / officialsyracusecrunch

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TomVenesky // @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

Other Game to Watch: Light night in the East, so out West, Iowa is in Cleveland  and holds the final playoff spot in the Central. Cleveland is out of a playoff spot right now looking to get in with a win over the Wild.

Next Five Games: @ LV 3/25, UTI 3/26, @ SPR 3/31, LV 4/1, UTI 4/2

The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get

It’s getting tighter in the Atlantic Division. Remember a few weeks ago when the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins had an 11 point lead on second place and the Hershey Bears were floundering around four points out of a playoff spot?

All of that changed, quickly.

The idle Penguins on Wednesday night saw the Lehigh Valley Phantoms beat the St. John’s IceCaps 3-2 in a shootout to draw within a point of the Penguins for the division lead. Wilkes-Barre has 89 points and Lehigh Valley has 88. The Penguins have 12 games left. The Phantoms have 11 after tonight. The Penguins burn off this game in hand that they now have Friday in Syracuse. The Phantoms are back in action Saturday when they host the Penguins.

Wilkes-Barre has 42 ROW, which is regulation or overtime wins, so Lehigh Valley’s win tonight via shootout actually hurts them in the event of a tie in points with the Penguins at the end of the year. Lehigh Valley has 40 ROW.

Phantoms host Bridgeport Sunday, who beat Albany tonight 3-1. Wilkes-Barre’s magic number stays at 15. 

Do you smell that? I do. It’s the pungent aroma of chocolate and its coming from Hershey. The Bears have won six straight and are all of a sudden four points off the Penguins for the division lead. The Bears biggest problem at this point in time is the fact that they have 10 games left, which is the least amount of all teams in the division. Pens have two games in hand on them and one more head to head. Remember that games in hand don’t mean anything unless you win them.

Hershey heads to St. John’s, Newfoundland for a pair with the IceCaps Saturday and Sunday.

Then there is fourth place Providence. If you ask me they are the team that can surprise all and sneak up and win the division. They have 12 games left and play the Pens, Bears and Phantoms once more time, the Sound Tigers twice more and the rest of their schedule is cupcakes / out of division games.

Do Your Best and Don’t Worry, Pens!

Taking Care of Business — Pens WIN 5-2

button_hfd200          vs.          WBS

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I have used the “Taking Care of Business” headline before, but that’s exactly what the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins did tonight here against the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Ryan Haggerty’s two goals and Zach Aston-Reese’s professional debut and goal in the first period were what the doctor ordered for a Wilkes-Barre / Scranton team who is holding off a hard charging Atlantic Division as the AHL season hits its final weeks.

The Penguins defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack 5-2 in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night.

Here were the lines…

Casey DeSmith started and was backed up by Tristan Jarry.

Lineup Notes: Derrick Pouliot was reassigned Tuesday morning and Oskar Sundqvist and Frank Corrado were recalled. Story is that Tom Sestito is dealing with an upper body injury, necessitating the Sundqvist recall. Zach Aston-Reese made his highly anticipated professional debut, skating on the top line with Tom Kostopoulos and Kevin Porter. Troy Josephs was back too on the fourth line with Adam Krause, who returned also. Ryan Segalla dressed as the extra man defenseman in warmups.

First Period: Back and forth, run and gun first period by both teams. Penguins came out of the gate flying. Troy Josephs hit a post.

Penguins got behind the Hartford defense and scored twice. Josh Archibald on the first one and Ryan Haggerty on the second one…

But with each goal, Hartford responded to tie the game. Chris Brown left unmarked mid-slot that tied it at one :23 after the Archibald goal and Marek Hrivik shorthanded on a deflection :55 after the Haggerty goal.

So the Penguins needed to score in the final minute and didn’t allow the Wolf Pack to respond right back because you can’t score during intermission.

Meet Zach Aston-Reese.

I told you (well others did, I just put all of their information in a tidy blog piece) about Aston-Reese last week. He scored his first professional goal on a nice pass by Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos.

Brett Stern picked up his first AHL point with an assist on the Archibald goal by the way.

Second Period: Ryan Haggerty scored his second of the game right after the Penguins didn’t score on a power play and it was 4-2.

Wilkes-Barre would get a power play goal :13 into a Dan Catenacci high sticking penalty when David Warsofsky scored to make it 5-2 and chase Jeff Malcolm.

Malcolm stopped 14 of 19.

Enter Mackenzie Skapski. Skapski settled things down for his team, stopping all 10 shots faced in this period and 10 shots in the…

Third Period: Tidy period that saw no scoring. Penguins half pressed with the likes of Troy Josephs and Adam Krause but Skapski would have none of it and the Penguins defense kept it a three goal lead, limiting Hartford to just five shots on goal.

Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (two assists, even) 2) Zach Aston-Reese (goal, even) and 1) Ryan Haggerty (two goals, +1)

Around the Division: Only other game on this Tuesday night was Lehigh Valley on the Rock for the first of two against the IceCaps and St. John’s raced out to a 4-0 lead but Lehigh Valley would storm back and stun the IceCaps (and any fans in the Wyoming Valley pulling for them) and win 5-4 in overtime. These two rematch tomorrow in Newfoundland.

Standings: Penguins (.695 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.672)  — Hershey (.638) — Providence (.633) — Bridgeport (.617) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.381)

Wheeling Update: Nailers are off tonight as they prep for three games against the Idaho Steelheads this coming weekend.

Video highlights will run here if I see them.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Hartford 3/21

vs.     hfd

Home Game: 31

AHL Game: 940

Who: Hartford Wolf Pack

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Saturday at home against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Penguins lost a close one 3-2. Oskar Sundqvist scored a late shorthanded goal that brought the Penguins to within one. For Hartford, the Wolf Pack were in Hershey this past Saturday and lost 6-4. Taylor Beck scored a goal and assisted on two others in the loss and picked up third star honors.

Last Meeting: March 10 in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins won 8-1. Derrick Poulkiot had a goal and three assists. Barry Goers had two goals and one assist. Taylor Beck scored for Hartford.

Record: For WBS: 42-18-3-0 (87 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For HFD: 21-36-4-2 (48 pts., 8th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: Points are at a premium as we are in the final stretch of the season. The Penguins cannot take the Wolf Pack lightly as they gave the Hershey Bears a fight in the two games down in Chocolatetown this past weekend. Two points are for the taking for the Penguins is they stick to the game plan and execute.

Referee(s): Cameron Voss / Chris Schlenker

Linesmen: Francois Dussureault / Jud Ritter

Twitter: @wbspenguins  and @WBSGameDay / @WolfPackAHL

Facebook:  /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /HartfordWolfPack

Instagram: wbspenguins / hartford_wolfpack

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso and @TLTomVenesky / @HowlingsToday

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS and Nick Hart @_NickHart // For HFD: Bob Crawford  @HawkCrawford

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep

Radio: For WBS: WILK NewsRadio / For Hartford: Fox Sports Radio 1410

Television: AHL Live

Promotion(s): None.

Other Game to Watch: Lehigh Valley visits the Rock and take on the St. John’s IceCaps. The IceCaps are trying to fend off a hard charge by the Utica Comets.

Next Five Games: @ SYR 3/24, @ LV 3/25, UTI 3/26, @ SPR 3/31, LV 4/1

Wheeling Wrap 3/21

Tuesday afternoon and that means another look back at the week that was for the ECHL affiliate of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, the Wheeling Nailers!

The season is winding down in the ECHL. Eight games remain for Wheeling, but let’s look back at the last four.

On Wednesday, the Nailers were in Elmira visiting the Jackals for a trip to New York and beat the Jackals 5-4. Gage Quinney had a hat trick, Christian Hilbrich and Brett Stern both had two assists each and Doug Carr picked up the win, stopping 29 of 33 shots. The Nailers went 1-for-5 on the power play.

On Friday, the Nailers visited the Adirondack Thunder for the first of two games with the Thunder on the weekend. The Nailers picked up a big 5-2 win. Cody Wydo picked up a pair of goals and Sean Maguire stopped 32 of 34 shots to pick up the win.

Saturday in the rematch, the Nailers were defeated 5-4 in overtime by the Thunder. Wheeling went up 3-0 on the Thunder before seeing the Thunder storm back for four straight goals, Christian Hilbrich’s goal with :20 left forced overtime. Alex Wall scored with :16 left to give the Thunder the extra point. Wheeling’s newest acquisition Kale Kerbashian picked up three assists. Wheeling struck twice on the power play. Sean Maguire took the overtime loss.

On Sunday, the Nailers bussed back to where their New York trip began in Elmira, and were defeated by the Jackals 6-5 in a wild, back and forth affair. The aforementioned Kale Kerbashian had two goals, Alex Carrier dished out two assists but the Nailers were unable to get the overtime game winner they would have loved on this road trip. Doug Carr took the loss in net for the Nailers and Wheeling went 1-for-5 on the power play.

The Nailers sit in fourth place in the North Division with a 31-25-8-0 record good for 70 points, five points behind the Manchester Monarchs for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.

This week, the Nailers play host to the Idaho Steeheads, who come in for three games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at Wesbanco Arena.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 23

Week 23 is in the books and we already have a ticket punched to the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

They are your number one team in the AHL overall and the number one team again this week, the San Jose Barracuda. San Jose locked up a playoff spot Saturday night.

The team behind them, the San Didego Gulls, should be joining their Pacific Division brethren very soon, as soon as this week in fact.

But there is a team that has been there the most times and has the most hardware which reside in Central Pennsylvania who are rising like a phoenix due to a man named Pheonix. The Hershey Bears are your number three team this week after jumping to third in the ever competitive Atlantic Division.

Oh, but in fourth is the team that has been at the pinnacle of the League’s best Division for months now, and one that the Bears would love to knock off. It’s the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

I think I have given enough away in this lede, so please jump through if you didn’t link in anywhere direct to see where the other 26 teams and maybe where your favorite team ended up in this weeks rankings.

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