Chirps from Center Ice

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

Checkmate – Pens LOSE 6-5 (OT)


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I’d be more upset about this one, a 6-5 overtime loss for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to the Charlotte Checkers if it was anyone else in the division.

Charlotte is 12-3. They are a great team, there is no getting past that. The Penguins had them down 4-1 tonight and the Checkers slowly but surely mounted yet another Mohegan Sun Arena comeback and won the game in overtime.

If the opponent is a .500 opponent or a last place team, you put teams like that away for good when you are up 4-1. The Penguins tried to do that tonight to the Checkers but there was too much time on the clock and too many good players on the Charlotte team.

Anthony Peters opposed Alex Nedeljkovic.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Jimmy Hayes returned, replaced Anthony Angello who goes top line, who replaced Tobias Lindberg who goes fourth line and bumps Ryan Horvat out of the lineup. Defense was unchanged.

Garrett Wilson was reassigned by the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the day but was at morning skate in Ottawa this morning and didn’t make it in time.

First Period: Aleksi Saarela scored on a rebound of a shot by Trevor Carrick that put the Checkers on the board first…

Penguins would get a power play and score on it when Adam Johnson scored from the point that tied the game for the Penguins.

Less than a minute later, Stefan Elliott throws a harmless shot at Nedeljkovic that goes in and it’s all of a sudden 2-1.

Thomas DiPauli would find space while Charlotte’s fourth line was out and he scored to make it 3-1.

That ended Nedeljkovic’s night, enter Callum Booth.

Now here is the thing about this move. It wasn’t an indictment on Nedeljkovic’s play as much as hit was a slap in the mouth to the players that played in front of him by head coach Mike Vellucci. Nedeljkovic is Charlotte’s iron horse. He plays in virtually every game for them and wins. Booth had a 1-1 record coming into tonight and was a virtual unknown.

Second Period: Adam Johnson scored to make it 4-1 early in the period.

Charlotte then got two bang bang goals from Cliff Pu and Martin Necas and it was uh oh time for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

(initial call was for McKeown, but was changed to Pu)

Callum Booth had a save on Jarrett Burton that totally changed the complexion of the game at the time.

Charlotte, pressing and hammering each shift for a goal, get a ten bell, highlight reel save from their backup goalie to preserve the one goal deficit. That ignited Charlotte.

Third Period: Long time readers of the blog will sometime see me use the term, “not playing to win, playing not to lose” from time to time. That was definitely what the Penguins were doing when the third period started.

Checkers get first five shots on goal, finally break through when Dan Renouf unleashes a shot from the point that ties the game for the Checkers.

Charlotte wasn’t done.

Six seconds into a Tobias Lindberg hold, Greg McKegg scored to make it 5-4 Checkers.

The Penguins mustered only three shots on goal to this point, and were losing.

But then Anthony Angello did this…

Another angle…

That basically got the Penguins at least a point, because Charlotte never got enough of a look in regulation to win it outright.

Overtime: Wilkes-Barre never possessed the puck in overtime and Aleksi Saarela scored to win it for the Checkers.

Three Stars: 

The Good: The Penguins had the best team in the league in a 4-1 hole.

The Bad: That hole? The Penguins let the best team out of said hole and they couldn’t hold onto a lead and lost in overtime,

Around the Division: Bridgeport beats Belleville and sweeps the weekend, they win 2-1…Hartford thumps a listless Utica club 6-3…Hershey splits the weekend series with Cleveland and lose 5-2…Providence beats Rochester 3-2 in overtime…Springfield clips Lehigh Valley 3-2.

Standings: Charlotte 27 — Bridgeport 24 — Springfield 20 — Lehigh Valley 20 — Penguins 19 — Hartford 17 — Hershey 17 — Providence 14

Wheeling Update: The Nailers win 4-1 in South Carolina, beating the Stingrays 4-1. Kevin Spinozzi figured into every goal, scoring one and assisting on three others.


Pens are off until after Thanksgiving, when they travel up to Springfield Friday. Remember my Power Rankings post will be here on Wednesday. If there are any news or notes in between I will fill them in here.

Let’s Go Pens!


A point against the best team in the AHL is going to feel like no consolation for a Penguin team that had the Charlotte Checkers on the ropes down 4-1.

Charlotte scores four unanswered to take a 5-4 lead, Anthony Angello scores late to force overtime but the Penguins never possessed the puck in overtime and lose 6-5.

More in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Charlotte 11/17


Who: Charlotte Checkers

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game / Last Meeting: Last night in Wilkes-Barre, Thomas DiPauli scored first but the Checkers scored twice on the power play and won 2-1.

Record: For WBS: 8-6-1-1 (18 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division) // For CHA 12-3-1-0 (25 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Referee(s): Mitch Dunning / Terry Koharski

Linesmen: Matt McNulty / Jason Mandroc

Why You Should Care: I get the sense that the Penguins went to bed last night fairly confident that they should have beat the Checkers last night. So expect the Penguins to be sharp and prepared for Charlotte tonight.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Other Game to Watch: Springfield put up 9 goals last night against Rochester. Lehigh Valley was down 4-1 and beat Providence 5-4. These two teams clash tonight in Massachusetts tonight.

Promotion(s): The first 2,500 fans through the doors will receive a 2018-19 Pittsburgh Penguins calendar, presented by Highmark.

Next Five Games: @ SPR 11/23, vs. HER 11/24, vs. PRO 11/25, @ HER 11/28, @ RCH 11/30

Special Teams Not So Special — Pens LOSE 2-1


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The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were 4-4-1-1 in their last ten games coming into tonight’s contest with the league leading Charlotte Checkers. During that span, they have allowed seven straight power play goals.

Make it eight tonight, two for the night, as the Penguins fall 2-1 to the Charlotte Checkers.

An even game otherwise. Shots were 28 a side.

The turning point in the game was when AHL league leader in goals from last year, Valentin Zykov, was thrown out of the game for a dangerous intent to injure cross checking penalty to Joseph Cramarossa. The Penguins were on a 5:00 major power play and were unable to score in a 1-1 game at the time.

Eight shots on the power play for the Penguins, but no goals.

Charlotte on the other hand, struck twice on the power play, but even those were goals made on tight shots.

Janne Kuokkanen over the glove of Jarry that made it 1-1 on a two man advantage in the second, and then Andrew Poturalski bar down on Jarry with under five minutes to play on a garden variety power play.

Game. Set. Match.

That’s pretty much it.

Tristan Jarry opposed Alex Nedeljkovic. Fourteen goaltenders have scored goals in the AHL. Nedeljkovic was the thirteenth, Jarry the fourteenth.

Here is how they lined up:

With no changes on defense, Lindberg and Ölund went top line with DiPauli. Haggerty for Jimmy Hayes (he missed tonight’s game attending to a personal matter) with the Lafferty / Johnson line. Joe Cramarossa debuted on third line with Blueger and Angello. Burton centered Horvat and McGrath.

Nobody scored in the first.

Thomas DiPauli opened the scoring with a nice give and go with Tobias Lindberg here.

Janne Kuokkanen tied it on a two man advantage on a dart above Jarry’s glove that made it 1-1.

Zykov was assessed a match penalty for cross checking. Here’s the details on the penalty and the ramifications that go with it:

I don’t think he will be suspended for Saturday, but we will see. The punishment I think fit the crime.

Teams played with fire in the third period with each team trading multiple power play attempts but it was Andrew Poturalski going bar down and scoring on Jarry late with 3:36 left.

Pens pulled Jarry for the extra man but took a Teddy Blueger offensive zone penalty and that killed any chances at a tie.

The Good: The Penguins stood with the best team in the AHL and did not look out of place at all at even strength.

The Bad: Not scoring on the 5:00 major penalty was a major turning point. Allowing Charlotte to score twice on the power play killed the Penguins tonight.

Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Hershey crushes Cleveland 6-1. These teams rematch again tomorrow in Hershey…Lehigh Valley goes down 4-1 in the first period, win 5-4 in Providence…Springfield embarrasses Rochester 9-4…Bridgeport beats Laval 2-1 in a shootout…Hartford was off.

Standings: Charlotte 25 – Bridgeport 22 – Lehigh Valley 20 – Springfield 18 – Penguins 18 – Hershey 17 – Hartford 15 – Providence 12

Wheeling Update: Troy Josephs had a hat trick, John Muse tried to score on an empty net, the Nailers beat the Jacksonville Icemen 4-1 in Florida.

If Coal Street runs any highlights and I can get to an edit, they will run here.

Pens and Checkers rematch tomorrow at 7:05 in Wilkes-Barre. Gameday setup here at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!


Special teams carried the tune tonight. Penguins could not score on it, Charlotte did, twice. They win 2-1.

Pretty even game otherwise, shots were 28-28.

More in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Charlotte 11/16


Who: Charlotte Checkers

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday morning in Springfield, Tristan Jarry became the fourteenth AHL goaltender to score a goal as the penguins beat the Thunderbirds 5-1. For Charlotte, the Checkers were in Allentown on Wednesday and lost 3-2 in overtime. Andrew Poturalski and Julien Gauthier scored goals for the Checkers in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 8-5-1-1 (18 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division) // For CHA 11-3-1-0 (23 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Referee(s): Olivier Gouin / Michael Markovic

Linesmen: Tyler Loftus / J.P. Waleski

Why You Should Care: Penguins face a big test with the Charlotte Checkers coming in. The Checkers are the AHL’s best team and are looking to separate themselves finally from the rest of the Atlantic Division. The Penguins, on the other hand, sit just five points out of first place and want to tighten that gap up considerably this weekend.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Other Game to Watch: Springfield have lost four straight. Can they right the ship at home against the North Division leader Rochester Americans?

Promotion(s): Fans ages 21 and over can enjoy select draft beers for just $2 from 6-7:30pm, courtesy of the PA Prostate Cancer Coalition.And everyone is invited to stick around after the game for our Citizens Voice / Scranton Times Tribune postgame autograph session, featuring a pair of Penguins players.

Next Five Games: vs. CHA 11/17, @ SPR 11/23, vs. HER 11/24, vs. PRO 11/25, @ HER 11/28

AHL Power Rankings: Week 6

Let’s get some housekeeping out of the way real quick. Due to American Thanksgiving on next Thursday, the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings will be moved up one day. Look for them here on the blog on Wednesday, November 21.

On to this weeks Rankings. There is a new number one team this week for the first time all season. Rochester replaces Charlotte as the Amerks and Checkers swap spots this week.

Tucson, after a slip up a few weeks ago with Colorado, move to number three this week after a pair of shutout wins over Pacific Division leading San Jose.

Iowa moves up one and Lehigh Valley round out the top five. After the Phantoms, hit the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where all the other teams filled out this week.


Last Week: SYR 2 @ RCH 3 (OT)
Light week last week, with an OT win at home against Syracuse. Three in three through the Atlantic Northeast this weekend.


This Week: @ SPR 11/16, @ PRO 11/17, @ HFD 11/18
Record: 10-3-1-0


Last Week: CHA 3 @ BNG 4, CHA 7 @ LV 4, CHA 2 @ BRI 4, CHA 2 @ LV 3 (OT)
Checkers drop two games this week and for the first time all season are not the number one team in the Power Rankings. Chance to make it back to the top this weekend in Wilkes-Barre and at home against Belleville Tuesday.


This Week: @ WBS 11/16, @ WBS 11/17, vs. BEL 11/20
Record: 11-3-1-0


Last Week: SJ 0 @ TUC 5, SJ 0 @ TUC 1
Impressive shutout wins over division leader San Jose. We think whatever maladies that afflicted the Roadrunners in Colorado last weekend are past them.


This Week: @ STK 11/16, vs. STK 11/20
Record: 9-3-0-1


Last Week: BAK 5 @ IA 4 (OT), BAK 4 @ IA 3, MIL 0 @ IA 3
Split a series with the Condors then shut out the Admirals. Are second in the Central and host Milwaukee in a rematch Friday.


This Week: vs. MIL 11/16, @ CHI 11/17
Record: 9-4-1-0


Last Week: SPR 2 @ LV 8, CHA 7 @ LV 4, CHA 2 @ LV 3 (OT)
Phantoms are good at run and gun, something that most teams are not good at or try to stay away from. Light-ish week coming up.


This Week: @ PRO 11/16, @ SPR 11/17
Record: 8-4-1-1

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