Chirps from Center Ice

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

Beaten by Bus Legs — Pens LOSE 5-1

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It’s 686 miles to and from Hershey, PA to Providence RI.

It’s 121 miles to Bridgeport CT from Providence, RI

It’s 186 miles to Wilkes-Barre, PA from Bridgeport, CT.

Let’s see:

686
121
+ 186
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993 miles the Providence Bruins travelled by bus this week. 686 over the course of a Wednesday game in Hershey, 121 down to Bridgeport for a Friday game and then 186 through the night from Connecticut to Wilkes-Barre for a Saturday night game. A game where the Bruins explode for FOUR goals in the third period to beat the Penguins 5-1 Saturday night.

Four goals. In the third period. After close to 1000 miles in a bus in the span of about 72 hours.

After their Wednesday game the Penguins flew back from Charlotte Thursday after spending an extra night in North Carolina and didn’t play Friday. They were the fresher, more rested team playing on home ice and they laid an absolute egg.

The team has no talent because all of that would be talent was cast away in the span of winning two Stanley Cups in two years and then mishandled by a GM here in Wilkes-Barre (Bill Guerin) who was in over his head and later by a GM in Pittsburgh (Jim Rutherford) who rage quit and just left town.

Tonight isn’t about talent. Tonight is about coaching. J.D. Forrest gets a long leash from me because you can’t turn water into wine unless your first name is Jesus and you were a carpenter and your last initial starts with C. How Forrest lets his team get outworked by a team which has lived on a bus for the last three days come in on home ice and run circles around them in the third period and show more life and juice is beyond me.

Maybe the coaching, like the players, are just average and it is what it is.

Pens took three penalties in the third, including back to back. Providence’s Zach Senyshyn cashed on his first of three in the period on a power play. Pens up to this point were 0/4. In hindsight I wish I could make an argument that an overall close game to this point was decided on special teams.

Senyshyn scores again when a rush up ice started by Samuel Asselin is broken up but Asselin has enough time and space to dish a puck over to Senyshyn who scores to put the game out of reach and make it 3-1.

Pens scrambling, pull starter Louis Domingue and Jack Studnicka scores an empty netter to really insult you and it’s 4-1.

Ballg–wait.

Senyshyn again, this time with Domingue in net to make it a hat trick.

They played “Hard Days Night” by the Beatles on the way out of the building tonight. So apropos.

Here’s all three Senyshyn goals because I hate myself.

Unless Senyshyn has his own pilot, he’s on the same bus as the rest of his team traversing I-81 and I-84 up and down the Atlantic Division, all 993 miles in the span of 72 hours.

Completely unacceptable.

Here’s the Penguins goal, a Radim Zohorna goal that opened up the scoring in the second period.

Here’s how they lined up. Kyle Keyser opposed Domingue.

Nathan Legare for the injured Kasper Bjorkqvist was the only lineup change.

Pens are sixth in the division, a .500 team, and will likely play at this level for the remainder of the season. It’s a division full of mediocrity. You have Springfield and Hartford playing as the class of the field, Bridgeport and Lehigh Valley playing as the class clowns and a bunch of C students thrown in between. If one of those C students meets a pretty girl who starts assisting them with their Algebra homework, watch out.

They go again next Friday in Syracuse, then back home for Charlotte and then the first of six in the month of December with Hershey. All winnable. You have to have a coach that gets the team rightfully prepared and a group that wants to be better every shift. Until then, the mediocrity continues.

Power Rankings Tuesday. Pens will be in the bottom third.

Phooey.

Splitsville — Pens LOSE 4-3

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Overall, a positive road trip for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. They see their five game point streak come to an end, but I think they have figured a few things out and they will travel home Thursday for a Saturday home date with the Providence Bruins.

Checkers use a two goal third period to eke by the Penguins and win 4-3.

Tommy Nappier opposed Christopher Gibson.

Here is how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Nathan Legare was a healthy scratch. Jan Drozg took his spot in the lineup up front. Mitch Reinke came out for Chris Bigras on defense.

First Period: Checkers has 18 shots in the first period Tuesday and had 18 shots in the first on Wednesday.

Charlotte opened the scoring on what appeared to be an own goal by Sam Poulin. The video below doesn’t show it because the angle wasn’t the greatest but credit went to Aleksi Heponiemi.

:58 later, P.O. Joseph hauled a puck down below a face-off dot and slid a low shot at Gibson that went in that tied the game at one.

Checkers late regained the lead when ex-Pittsburgh Penguin Riley Sheahan scored a goal when  left unmarked on the far side.

Four Penguins overloaded on one side is a recipe for disaster.

The Penguins then had a chance on a power play and  much like last night failed to capitalize. In fact, Henry Bowlby had a small breakaway that Nappier was forced to make a save on.

Second Period: Kasper Bjorkqvist deflected in a Juuso Riikola shot from the point which drew the Penguins even at two with the Checkers.

But then Bjorkqvist left the game about halfway through the period with an apparent injury and didn’t return for the balance of the period.

Third Period: Zac Dalpe and Max McCormick score goals about a minute and a half from one another to edge them ahead 4-2.

Jordy Bellerive takes on the whole Checkers team on his own and scores to cut the lead to one.

Penguins get the only power play of the period late with 3:45 left in regulation but fail to score. Then with Nappier pulled for the extra attacker, the Penguins get close but Gibson makes the requisite saves to win the game for his side.

Three Stars: 3) Riley Sheahan (goal, assist) 2) Aleksi Heponiemi (goal, assist) 1) Max McCormick

The Good: Good fight tonight. Sweeping a team like Charlotte on their home ice was always going to be a tough task.

The Bad: Roles reversed a bit tonight, with Charlotte going 1/4 on the power play and the Penguins 0/2, but I don’t think the game was won on special teams. I still think its just two average teams who if they play 100 times in a row, split the wins and losses. It is what it is.

Turning Point: Mix in a couple of late saves by Gibson, but it’s McCormick’s goal which pushed the lead to 4-2 where you got the sense that the lead was insurmountable for the Penguins.

Around the Division: Springfield thumps Bridgeport 4-1… Providence and Hershey went to OT with Hershey winning 4-3 on a goal reviewed on replay. Mason Morelli with the goal there. Hershey had nine penalties called against them.

Standings: Springfield .824 percentage points / Hartford .750 / Hershey .594 / Providence .533 / Charlotte and Penguins .529 / Bridgeport .361 / Lehigh Valley .344

Wheeling Update: The Nailers handled the Indy Fuel 5-1 at home. Will Reilly had three assists. Alex D/Orio stopped 34 shots.

Video Highlights: If I can work an edit in between now and the next time I am in front of the blog I will edit them in here.

Pens are back on the ice Saturday at home at 6:05 against the Providence Bruins.

Let’s Go Pens!

Hall of Joy — Pens WIN 3-2 (OT)

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So they had a bad first, a better second, then a bad start to the third and a better finish of the third and win 3-2 in overtime in Charlotte Tuesday.

Amazing.

Amazing because this is a game they probably lose two weeks ago. Or do they? Seems like the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have only played the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Charlotte Checkers, so the sample size isn’t as broad as it could be.

In reality, I think it’s two average teams that are just are what they are at this point. And that can be a good thing.

They rematch Wednesday.

Louis Domingue opposed Joey Daccord.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: From Saturday in Providence, no changes to the lineup. Jordy Bellerive skated in his 100th WBS Penguins game. The Penguins sent Justin Almeida and Will Reilly to Wheeling Tuesday.

First Period: Pens got an early power play just 64 seconds into the game but didn’t register a shot on goal. Charlotte then possessed the hell out of the puck and outshot the Penguins 12-2 in the games first 11:07. Finally Henry Bowlby plays a puck off of one of the linemen and starts a rush and finds Gregori Denisenko for a goal that puts the Checkers on the board.

Penguins turned it on from there. In one sequence, Nathan Legare missed an open net off a perfect setup by Felix Robert then Robert was denied by Daccord on a great save.

Shots were 18-9 Checkers after the first. The 18 shots were the most allowed by the Penguins in one period all season.

Second Period: So whatever the message was at the first intermission by the coaching staff, it was received loud and clear because the Penguins came out blazing, tied up the shots at the end of the period at 25 and had a strong period.

Michael Chaput scored a power play goal on a breakaway after a blocked shot.

The Penguins continued to buzz, had a few more chances but weren’t able to get another goal.

But then Chase Priskie slammed home a drop pass left for him and the Checkers went back on top.

Penguins outshot the Checkers 16-7 in the period. Wilkes-Barre was gifted power play after power play, year only converted once with Chaput marker earlier in the period.

Third Period: Louis Domingue with a save of the year candidate stop on Alex True.

The Penguins had a blitzkrieg of shots and chances in the second period but had one paltry shot on goal thirteen plus minutes into the third period.

It didn’t matter really, because on their second shot in the third, they scored a goal.

Kyle Olson’s goal there on a nice pass into the slot by Michael Chaput.

Pens had a bevy of odd man rushes at Daccord, one was Valtteri Puustinen setting up Filip Hallander, but Hallander wasn’t able to connect for a goal.

Yet.

Overtime: Three breakaways for the Penguins, a couple chances were P.O. Joseph could finish the game but it wasn’t until Filip Hallander scored to end the game and win it for the Penguins.

Three Stars: 3) Chase Priskie (goal) 2) Louis Domingue (33 saves) 1) Filip Hallander (game winning goal)

The Good: They won a game where, maybe two weeks ago, they lose. I think there’s progress being made.

The Bad: They had six power play opportunities and scored on one of them. Close game where if they lose, you point right to this deficiency.

Turning Point: They didn’t lead until the very end, on Filip Hallander’s goal which got them the win.

Around the Division: Only game in the AHL tonight. Seems like it should carry more of a dubious distinction, but it doesn’t.

Standings: Springfield .813 percentage points / Hartford .750 / Hershey .567 / Penguins .563 / Providence .536 / Charlotte .500 / Bridgeport .382 / Lehigh Valley .344

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off. They went out Monday and got themselves a goalie. I don’t know what this means, but if I were to read the tea leaves, it means that the injury to Filip Lindberg means that Tommy Nappier is going to be living out of an apartment vs. a hotel room, meaning more longer term, then it is what it is.

Video Highlights: 

These two teams rematch Wednesday. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Weekend Preview: Stuffed Checkers

After mining three out of a possible four points in Springfield and Providence last weekend, its a quick turnaround and a visit to North Carolina for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins who face off against the Charlotte Checkers in midweek action before heading home for Thanksgiving and rematching with the Providence Bruins at home Saturday night.

The Setup

The power play drought ended on the first one awarded last weekend which snapped an 0/36 skid that the Penguins were on. Drew O’Connor, fresh down form Pittsburgh made an immediate impact across both contests that the Penguins played in, scoring three goals. A 5-4 shootout loss in Springfield was followed up by a pretty good 3-1 win in Providence.

The Pens travel down to North Carolina for a Tuesday / Wednesday night set against the Checkers. The Penguins are 1-2 against the Checkers so far this season and 1-1 against Saturday’s opponent, the Providence Bruins.

The Checkers were in Hershey Sunday after becoming just another notch on the Utica Comets belt Friday. The Comets dismantled the Checkers 4-1. On Sunday in Hershey, the Checkers were beaten by the Bears 4-2.

Providence was last in action last Saturday against the Penguins but will have played in Hershey on Wednesday and in Bridgeport on Friday.

The Records

The Penguins are 7-6-0-2, good for .533 percentage points and 5th in the Atlantic Division. The Checkers are 7-7-1-0, in sixth and .500 and the Bruins, at the time this hits the blog Tuesday, are 6-5-2-1 and good for .536 percentage points, but this will change by the time the Bruins hit the ice in Wilkes-Barre Saturday having played in two more games.

Who’s Up, Who’s Down, Who’s Out?

Anthony Angello continues to flip flop from day to day, week to week, to day to day with his lower body injury. Who the hell knows.

Filip Lindberg is week to week with a lower body injury. The Penguins have made no transactions so far this week, giving the wire a break.

What can we learn from the Penguins this week?

If Drew O’Connor plays in all three games, how much does he factor in to the result? Do the Pens pull out a win with him going scoreless and with three shots or does the offense run through him? That isn’t going to be good once he’s inevitably recalled leaving the Penguins back at square one again.

There has been some continuity with the defense corps, which is good. Regardless of what happens up front, it should be interesting to see how the defense tries to contain the Checkers offense and how much of that plays into the ultimate outcome of the games this week. I’d like to see a shutout thrown in here somewhere.

Who’s in Goal?

I don’t want to think that the Penguins drive Louis Domingue until the wheels fall off but they made a liar out of me last weekend when I said that with him seeing 39 shots in Springfield there was little chance he started the next night in Providence. Not only did he do that, he went out and won too.

Do I think Domingue gets both games in Charlotte? Maybe. Is it a foregone conclusion that Tommy Nappier is just there for show? Maybe, too. He has to get his reps in but if you want to ride the hot hand and keep Domingue’s workload to a minimum Tuesday, why not go directly back to him Wednesday? It’s possible that head coach J.D. Forrest does just that.

For the Checkers you will see Joey Daccord and Christopher Gibson in some form or fashion on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Providence has a brutal at Hershey Wednesday, at Bridgeport Friday then at Wilkes-Barre Saturday at 6:05 on their schedule this week. It’s a hellish week of work, so who knows this far out who they go with Saturday. It’s either Troy Grosenick, working his way back from injury or Kyle Keyser, who the Pens saw on Saturday.

Who is running the show?

Referees Brett Roeland and Cody Beach get the two day assignment from the AHL as do linesmen Brian Pincus and Scott Senger. You aren’t having refs shuffle in and out there on back to back games. They send who they need to and then its onto the next city.

For Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, Mason Riley and Jim Curtin get the assignment and Tom George and Tom DellaFranco will handle the lines.

Looking ahead...

I don’t want to. The next time the Penguins hit the ice after this week it will be December already and time for snow. Speaking of snow and cold, the Penguins will travel to the coldest spot in the Eastern Conference next Friday when they face off against the Syracuse Crunch, then it’s back home again next Saturday night against the Charlotte Checkers and then get ready, the Hershey Bears make their debut on the schedule for the Penguins and in a big way. Four out of the next five are against the Bears, who the Penguins will see six times total in the month of December.

Give us a bold prediction…

You won’t shovel any snow until January. Happy Thanksgiving.

Power Rankings – The Utica W(x13)agon

Typing out thirteen ‘W’s’ in a row in the headline seemed like overkill here, given it is Thanksgiving week and the Utica Comets still have yet to be dealt a setback of any type whatsoever in their contests. A remarkable feat and a record broken. The Utica Comets remain the undisputed number one team in the AHL Power Rankings this week.

Stockton remains number two after also not losing in regulation, but there are two overtime losses mixed in there. Not too much shakeup in the top five this week.

Here’s the whole list, in all it’s glory:

RankTeamBlurbLast Week
113-0 and still haven’t lost. At this point, it’s checking the schedule to see when the Comets may be in trouble. I don’t see it this week. Maybe next week.n/c
2Asserted dominance over Ontario Sunday in their only match of the week Sunday. Rematch later today.n/c
3So there is an epic clash this weekend between the red hot Springfield Thunderbirds, who swept the weekend, against the Hartford Wolf Pack who are equally as hot.+1
4Wolf Pack haven’t lost in five straight and have a shot to overtake Springfield at the top of the Atlantic in home and home action this coming weekend. +1
5Got beat at home over a very good Stockton team on Sunday. A chance at payback later today. +1
6Split a pair with Tucson. Lead the Central by the slimmest of margins.+8
7Up to second in the North now after a perfect week with a sweep of the Crunch and a Sunday OT win over the Marlies. +12
8Have needed extra time in their last four games. Are up to third in the division.-1
9Is it a good week for the Amerks when they lose twice to the buzzsaw Comets and need a shootout to beat the hapless Phantoms?-6
10All three contests went to overtime for the Griffins this week. Points are good this time of year. +5
11There’s no consistency with this team, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering everyone and their mother makes playoffs. Busy Thanksgiving week for the Bruins, playing in three contests. +1
12There’s no consistency with this team either. 5-5 in their last ten.-4
13It’s amazing what a little help from Pittsburgh will do for a team. This standard also applies to just about any AHL squad.+9
14Split a pair of close contests in Colorado. Host Iowa this weekend.-5
15Beat up on a hapless Milwaukee side this week. Home stand continues with Texas this week.+3
16If the IceHogs play the way they did when they took on the Wolves for a home and home, Rockford is not near the Central basement for much longer.+11
17Time to pump the brakes on the Wolves? Maybe. Chicago finds ways to get points and are still in the mix in the North, but they aren’t going to run away with the lead in this competitive division. -7
18Exposed a bit in Hartford Saturday, up 3-2 and lost 7-3. May not even be the the third or fourth best team in the division.-7
19Senators were good in their only action this past week against Laval. Very winnable games coming up here where the Senators can start making a move out of the North Division basement.+5
20Pair up in Winnipeg against the Moose next weekend. Split OT wins with the Griffins last weekend.+3
21Leaving the Canucks where they were last week because they didn’t play this week due to flooding in and around the Fraser Valley. Smart call. All the best to the City of Abbotsford.n/c
22Had their trip to Abbotsford postponed due to flooding there. Lost to San Jose last Wednesday. Contests with the Reign and Gulls this week.-9
23Split home contests with Henderson. Stockton drops by this week.+2
24Beat the Marlies in a shootout midweek then dropped the first of what’s going to be three with the Senators.-4
25Swept the Barracuda up in San Jose this past weekend. Now, San Jose returns the favor this weekend for a pair in San Diego.+5
26Well, they didn’t give up seven this week at any point but they did beat Bakersfield midweek and were swept by the Gulls.-9
27Split in Iowa. Are out of the Pacific basement. Host Abbotsford this weekend.+1
28Haven’t won in five contests. The Crunch are becoming a footnote in the North Division. -12
29Winless in their last five and no, I still don’t see a winnable game on the schedule for the Phantoms this week. n/c
30Islanders can’t get out of the block the right way in most games and it sticks with them. Winless in their last five.-4
31Salvaged a win in Manitoba Sunday. Are the only team in the AHL in single digits on points. n/c

The Drew and Louie Show — Pens WIN 3-1

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Let’s review the weekend, shall we?

Drew O’Connor is sent down from the Pittsburgh Penguins and on the very first power play the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins go on in Springfield on Friday, Drew O’Connor knocks one home for a power play goal which breaks a 0/36 drought coming into the contest.

Louis Domingue, fresh off a trip up to the NHL club, stops 35 of 39.

On Saturday, Drew O’Connor scores two goals and Louis Domingue stops 42 of 43 as the Penguins beat the Providence Bruins 3-1.

There are a few players in Wilkes-Barre lore that, “stirred the drink” so to speak. Stefan Noesen comes to immediate mind. Drew O’Connor was the best player, far and wide, on the ice wearing an oversized muscular penguin on his chest. He’s probably not long for this AHL world as soon as another Penguins forward goes down with injury he’s on a fast track straight back up again.

Credit Domingue, too. 80+ shots in back to back games on back to back nights is a hell of a work load.

Can they sustain it, can they ride the momentum into Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday next week?

Domingue opposed Kyle Keyser. I speculated yesterday that with the 40 shots faced in Springfield it may be Tommy Nappier’s game. Well, I was wrong. Here’s how they lined up:

Bruins didn’t post lines. They never do.

Lineup Notes: Forward shuffling below the top line, but no lineup changes.

First Period: Penguins kill two penalties, start to push back a bit and forecheck, a Valtteri Puusitinen shot is saved by Keyser but the rebound spills to Drew O’Connor and is swept in.

Bruins would get another power play but the Penguins remained perfect in the period.

Second Period: Penguins tack on to their lead when a shot from Cam Lee double deflects in off of Kyle Olson and in that gives Wilkes-Barre a 2-0 lead.

Penguins didn’t take any penalties, played a disciplined period and had a few other chances to add on but Kyle Keyser was there to make a stop. Memorable chance was a stop on O’Connor off a 2-on-1 rush.

Third Period: Bruins put the screws to the Penguins and came out of the blocks hot putting immense pressure on the Penguins and Domingue. Finally, Jakub Lauko scores a power play goal on the fifth try of the game for the Bruins special teams unit.

Providence by rights weren’t getting any bounces. Their leading scorer Oskar Steen uncharacteristically whiffed on some shots for one time feeds which could have lead to Penguins danger.

Penguins were on their heels a bit for the final moments but with time dwindling Keyser vacated for the extra attacker and Drew O’Connor connected with the empty net.

Three Stars: 3) Jakub Lauko (goal) 2) Drew O’Connor (two goals) 1) Louis Domingue 42 saves

The Good: They played about as a complete game as you could ask for and won, on the road, against a good opponent.

The Bad: It’s been a while since their last shutout. It will come, but you have to wait a bit longer.

Turning Point: With all the love for O’Connor and Domingue and rightfully so, Kyle Olson’s second period goal took the air out of the sails a bit for the Bruins because what they were doing to that point didn’t work, causing the Bruins to re-work the game plan entirely. That’s when the Penguins handed the reins over to Domingue.

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley loses in overtime in Toronto this afternoon 3-2….Hershey was up 3-2 heading into the third in Hartford and lost 7-3….Springfield beats Bridgeport 2-1.

Standings: Springfield .800 percentage points / Hartford .750 / Charlotte .536 / Providence .536 / Hershey .536 / Penguins .533 / Bridgeport .406 / Lehigh Valley .344

Wheeling Update: Nailers are in Fort Wayne. Box here.

They are back in action Tuesday in Charlotte looking to carry the momentum from this weekend into a two game set in North Carolina. Power Rankings will hit some where in between. I just don’t know when or where.

Let’s Go Pens!

 

Man the Toropchenkos! — Pens LOSE 5-4 (SO)

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I don’t know if there is such a thing as a good loss, but this game, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Atlantic Division leading Springfield Thunderbirds, sure felt like one.

The Penguins finally scored a power play goal, two of them in fact and back to back and raced out to a 3-0 lead on the Thunderbirds but it was Springfield scoring late in the first.

Then in the second.

Then twice in the third to take a 4-3 lead before Cam Lee scored to tie the game at 4.

Penguins have to kill about :33 of two man disadvantage but get the game to overtime.

They scored once in the shootout and we did not.

It’s a good performance because the Penguins raced ahead of the Thunderbirds and managed to eke out a point in a shootout loss. They caught a good Springfield team flat footed and tried to fend off a furious rush by the Atlantic leading Thunderbirds. It’s a lot to build off of.

Louis Domingue opposed Joel Hofer. I mentioned in the Weekend Setup that if Domingue didn’t face a big workload you may see him Saturday in Providence again. He faced 40 shots tonight, so expect Tommy Nappier from THEE Ohio State University Saturday.

Here’s how they lined up…

Lineup Notes: All four big guns (O’Connor, Riikola, Joseph and Domingue) from Pittsburgh were in the lineup replacing Sam Houde and Dylan MacPherson (who aren’t even in town anymore because they were sent to Wheeling) and Chris Bigras.

It was mentioned before the game that goaltender Filip Lindberg is week to week with a lower body injury.

First Period: It took all of 63 seconds for the Penguins to get on the board with Radim Zohorna scoring to put Wilkes-Barre up 1-0.

Then, back to back power play goals. What team is this?

Oh, yes. A team that got help from a healthy Pittsburgh Penguins team.

Drew O’Connor on a rebound of a Juuso Riikola shot.

Then Filip Hallander off a nice setup from Valtteri Puustinen on the second power play goal in a row.

That sound you may have head was me hitting the floor as all of this was occurring in real time.

Some notes on these goals. First, it’s the quickest goal scored by the Penguins so far this season and Juuso Riikola had the secondary assist on all three goals.

The Penguins would see the Thunderbirds push back at all three ties that Springfield would get scored on. Nathan Todd had a few quality shots on Domingue.

Alexey Toropchenko goes up the ice and scored to get the Thunderbirds on the board.

I didn’t like the way that the period ended for the Penguins. Seemed like they let off a bit.

Second Period: It carried over into the second period. Seemed like the Penguins were getting flattened every shift. Domingue bailed them out on a three against one shorthanded bid and then Matt Peca scored here to cut the Penguins lead to one:

It seemed like the Penguins didn’t have a big danger scoring opportunity at all in the period until the last minute of the period where they started to pepper Hofer for some shots he was able to turn away.

Third Period: Alexey Toropchenko and Tanner Kaspick score :41 apart to give the Thunderbirds a 4-3 lead.

Hardly ideal, but not like you couldn’t see it coming with the run of play the Pens were on in the second period.

On top of that, the Pens found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 situation but were able to get out of that OK.

But not before Cam Lee scores to tie the game up again.

They were outshot by a 2:1 clip (12-6 for the period) but managed to get the game to…

Overtime: They went end to end without a whistle in a ferocious, frenetic 5 minute race, but no one scored.

Shootout: Hugh McGing scores in the top of the second round for the Thunderbirds and Drew O’Connor, Radim Zohorna and Valtteri Puustinen all missed on their chances, in that order.

Here’s McGing’s shot:

Three Stars: Juuso Riikola (three assists) 2) Mackenzie MacEachern (two assists) 1) Alexey Toropchenko

The Good: They scored a pair of power play goals and were perfect on the penalty kill.

The Bad: They figured out special teams tonight, but seemed to forget everything else five on five, where Springfield was the better team tonight.

Turning Point: Could go a lot of places here. The kill on the 5-on-3 in the third or the Cam Lee shot that forces OT. Give it to McGing and his goal in the second round of the shootout which put the heat on the Pens for good.

Around the Division: Utica has set an AHL record at the expense of the Charlotte Checkers winning their twelfth straight game to start the season. The Comets are 12-0 after beating the Checkers 4-1….Providence beats Hartford 2-1 in overtime after Oskar Steen’s goal just :26 into the extra period for the P-Bruins. Lehigh Valley loses again, this time in a shootout in Rochester 5-4.

Standings: Springfield .786 percentage points / Hartford .733 / Providence and Hershey .577 / Charlotte .536 / Penguins .500 / Bridgeport .433 / Lehigh Valley .333

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were out in Indy tonight and lost 5-2. Chris Ortiz and Matt Alfaro had the goals. Alex D’Orio stops 26 of 30.

If the Thunderbirds or Penguins post highlights I’ll see if I can run the edit here.