Chirps from Center Ice

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

This Tuesday in Texas — Pens WIN 3-2 (OT)


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There is a saying that, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

For Jordy Bellerive, it must be true, he’s scoring goals and the net must look twice the size for the Penguins rookie.

A 3-2 overtime win for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Tuesday night with the goal scored by, who else, Jordy Bellerive that ended the game. Bellerive’s trip through San Antonio this past weekend saw him score two goals and the shootout game winner on Saturday and an overtime game winner Tuesday.

He may not want to board that flight to Charlotte Wednesday, but he will have to.

The Penguins draw to a point of idle and fifth place Springfield and three points back of fourth place Providence for the final playoff spot. A huge meeting with third place Charlotte, who the Penguins are just four points behind, looms this weekend.

Casey DeSmith opposed Ville Husso in a rematch from Saturday.


Lineup Notes: Joseph Blandisi was recalled Monday, so Christopher Brown slotted in for him at center, the forward lines were jumbled up, Jordy Bellerive found himself on the second line, up from the fourth, based off of his performance on Saturday.

Dustin Tokarski was injured in warmups Saturday with what Head Coach Mike Vellucci told Nick Hart was a hand injury. He’s still with the team, practiced Monday and took part of Morning skate. No timetable was given, but I’ll point out that if it were bad, he would have been sent back to Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh if it was.

On defense, the same pairings from Saturday. San Antonio didn’t post lines.

First Period: Largely uneventful period. Andreas Martinsen was the only Penguin forward with a shot on goal, Wilkes-Barre only managed five to the Rampage’s ten.

Klim Kostin deflected a Joey LaLeggia shot about halfway through that gave the Rampage a 1-0 lead.

Penguins killed the only penalty called in the period. Like I said, largely uneventful.

Second Period: Largely eventful period. The Penguins outshot the Rampage 16-4 in the period and got a goal when Jon Lizotte connected with Anthony Angello on this tie setup that tied the game at one.

Ville Husso was forced into some great saves, John Nyberg had one on a shot through traffic, Husso got help from his post when Chase Berger fizzed one past and Jordy Bellerive had a bid go off of the post early on in a two on one.

Third Period: Penguins navigated through back to back penalties easily, then Kevin Roy tipped in a John Nyberg shot that gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

I liked what I saw from John Nyberg tonight, doing all the little things right.

Good, subtle keep in by David Warsofky there at the start of the video that kept play onside. The scoring play doesn’t happen without it.

Wilkes-Barre had one more penalty to kill and did so, but just as Husso came off for an extra attacker, San Antonio indeed found the equalizer on this sequence with ex-Penguin Derrick Pouliot.

Tipped in by Nathan Walker that sent us to…

Overtime: They went back and forth s they often do with all that open ice. It was a sequence with Thomas DiPauli that led to the Bellerive goal. He was tangled up with Husso, got a puck at the neutral zone and put a shot on he didn’t get all of, followed his shot and caused enough interference (legal) on Husso that Bellerive was there for the goal and the finish.

Three Stars: 3) Anthony Angello (goal) Kevin Roy (goal) 1) Jordy Bellerive (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Any time you get four points at an opponent, you take it and run. Don’t worry about the games finishing past regulation, giving points to a Western Conference opponent is meaningless for the Penguins.

The Bad: I still can’t figure out of it was Penguins good or San Antonio bad (they are last place in a competitive Central) but will likely have that answer this weekend when Mike Vellucci visits his old stomping grounds in Charlotte this weekend.

Turning Point: How can you not go with the Bellerive overtime game winner in this situation? These are big points that could be remembered as the Penguins are shaping up to be in a race with three, maybe four with Lehigh Valley’s sudden resurgence, teams for a playoff spot come April.

Around the Division: They all watched us. It’s a Tuesday, the Atlantic Division just doesn’t play on a Tuesday.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 55 — Charlotte 51 — Providence 50 — Springfield 48 — Penguins 47 — Lehigh Valley 41 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off, it’s the ECHL All-Star break.

Video Highlights: Coal Street tweeted Saturday’s highlights Monday morning. I hope they don’t wait till Thursday for these. Anyway, if I see them and can work an edit in I will.

I would expect, with Pittsburgh on bye for the next ten days, that you will see Joseph Blandisi and Andrew Agozzino get returned to Wilkes-Barre with Kevin Czuczman and possibly Sam Lafferty. EDIT: They didn’t wait long, check out this time stamp:

AHL Power Rankings will be here Thursday at 11 and then the Gameday setup for the two game set in Charlotte will be here Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ San Antonio 1/21

Who: San Antonio Rampage

Where: AT&T Center

When: 8:00 p.m.

Last Game / Last Meeting: Saturday night in San Antonio, the Penguins won in a shootout 4-3. Jordy Bellerive had a pair of goals in regulation and had the shootout game winner. Jake Walman went goal for goal with Bellerive, scoring a pair of goals of his own for the Rampage.

Record: For WBS: 19-16-3-4 (45 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For SA: 14-17-5-5 (38 pts., 8th place Central Division)

Referees: Stephen Reneau / Alex Ross

Linesmen: Fred Hudy / Carl Sasyn

Why You Should Care: Wilkes-Barre can sweep the Rampage in San Antonio tonight with some minor adjustments. The Rampage can equally split the series with the Penguins with the same adjustments. Which coach out coaches the other?

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Nothing going on in the division tonight, so it’s Belleville visiting Milwaukee in a North / Central matchup.

Next Five Games: @ CHA 1/24, @ CHA 1/25, vs. LV 1/31, vs. BRI 2/1, vs. BNG 2/5

For Whom the Bellerive Tolls — Pens WIN 4-3 (SO)


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The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins got a win Saturday night in Texas against the San Antonio Rampage 4-3 in a shootout. Jordy Bellerive had a pair of goals in regulation and scored one in a shootout as well to get the Penguins out of the little slide that they are on and to stay up with the leaders in the Atlantic Division.

Casey DeSmith opposed Ville Husso.


The Rampage didn’t post any lines.

Lineup Notes: They were the same up front and switched John Nyberg with David Warsofsky and Macoy Erkamps was back in the lineup for Michael Kim, paired with Niclas Almari.

Emil Larmi backed up. Initially Dustin Tokarski was listed as the backup and I had the AHLTV feed on early and saw warmups and saw Tokarski out on the warmup, so I don’t think it’s anything injury related.

Also from the broadcast, Zach Trotman was upgraded to day to day.

First Period: Both teams took penalties within minutes of one another. San Antonio’s power play is deadly. The Penguins needed a good start and got one when Joseph Blandisi deflected this shot from David Warsofsky that gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Shots were 12-10 for the Penguins.

Second Period: If the first period was boring to you then the second period was the exact opposite.

A short handed goal by the Rampage, then a goal by Jordy Bellerive highlighted a wild period.

First the Austin Poganski short handed goal, the third scored against Wilkes-Barre this season, that tied the game at one.

Nolan Stevens draws three Penguins at him then executes a perfect pass to a streaking Poganski for a goal.

Things continued to unravel for the Penguins, as Jake Walman keeps a clearing attempt onside, then cuts down the slot and backhands one past DeSmith to give the Rampage a 2-1 lead.

A minute or so later, Jordy Bellerive blows a shot past Husso that put the Penguins back on even terms with San Antonio.

Penguins power play wasn’t clicking at all, having given up a short handed goal, so Mike Vellucci put his fourth line out with :26 left in one late in the period.

Third Period: Jordy Bellerive scored his second of the night which gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead…

…but Jake Walman would score his second of the night to tie the game again. It was goals scored by Bellerive and Walman in a span of 1:11 in the second and here, it was a span of 1:20.

They went back and forth for a bit, no one got close to scoring a winner and it was off to…

Overtime: Joey LaLeggia got four minutes for high sticking, but after a Husso glove save in front of Anthony Angello, Angello shoved a guy in the face and was sent to the penalty box. They went back to three on three and then to the …

Shootout: Jordy Bellerive went out in the bottom of the first and scored, Casey DeSmith stopped Austin Poganski, MIke Vecchione and Joey LaLeggia. Chase Berger also had a chance in the second round but missed on his attempt.

Three Stars: 3) Austin Poganski (goal, assist) 2) Jake Walman (two goals) and 1) Jordy Bellerive (two goals and the shootout game winner)

The Good: You can argue that they were the better team tonight and not be wrong.

The Bad: You can make the same case if you were a Rampage fan. I don’t know what Tuesday will say about either team, hell it may even be another shootout.

Turning Point: Thought it was the double minor power play that the Penguins had in overtime, but Angello’s antics snuffed this out. On a night where he was the star, Jordy Bellerive’s goal in the bottom of the first round of the shootout got the Penguins the extra point they so desperately need at this point of the season.

Around the Division: Mason Marchment’s hat trick wasn’t enough for the Toronto Marlies who lose 4-3 in a shootout to the Charlotte Checkers….Hershey beats Hartford 5-4 in overtime in a wild one in Chocolatetown….Providence beats Bridgeport 3-1….Lehigh Valley wins their fifth in a row beating a game Rochester side 4-0. Springfield was off.

Standings: Hartford 55 — Hershey 53 — Charlotte and Providence 49 — Springfield 46 — Penguins 45 — Lehigh Valley 41 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose 4-1 in Indy, Justin Almeida had the goal.

Video Highlights: I believe San Antonio does em on YouTube, if you want to head there to see them if you really want to. I will be busy in the morning shoveling snow before church.

They have a day off in San Antonio Sunday then practice Monday before the rematch Tuesday. I’ll have an update to my charts Sunday afternoon if you are looking for something to poke around on Sunday afternoon or Monday. But for anything else breaking, talk to you here again Tuesday at 4 for the Gameday setup against the Rampage again.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ San Antonio 1/18

Who: San Antonio Rampage

Where: AT&T Center

When: 8:00 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Cedar Park, the Penguins met the Texas Stars for the final time this regular season and lost in a shootout 4-3 Emil Larmi came in on relief for started Dustin Tokarski and stopped 24 of 25 in probably his best game as a Penguin. Kevin Roy had a goal and two assists. For the Rampage, they hosted the Toronto Marlies on Thursday and won 4-3. Cam Darcy and Klim Kostin each had a goal and an assist in the win.

Last Meeting: October 26 in WIlkes-Barre, the Penguins won in overtime 5-4. The impact players in that game for the Penguins aren’t with the team anymore. Stefan Noesen had two goals and an assist, Joseph Cramarossa had the overtime game winning goal and also had an assist. Mike Vecchione, who is still with San Antonio and actually had a goal Thursday against the Marlies, scored a pair against the Penguins on that night in October.

Record: For WBS: 18-16-3-4 (43 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For SA: 14-17-5-4 (37 pts., 8th place Central Division)

Referees: Mathieu Menniti / Brett Roeland

Linesmen: Fred Hudy / Chase Wilkinson

Why You Should Care: Wilkes-Barre played better after the goaltending switch yesterday. Do they carry any of that over in San Antonio tonight? The Rampage are in last in the Central but don’t let that fool you, they can be a dangerous team to play against.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Hartford visits Hershey tonight. The Bears were swept this week in Charlotte and the Wolf Pack were in Utica last night. Should be a good game.

Next Five Games: @ SA 1/21, @ CHA 1/24, @ CHA 1/25, vs. LV 1/31, vs. BRI 2/1

Pick Yourself Up — Pens LOSE 4-3 (SO)


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Mike Vellucci hammered his team postgame Wednesday after they lost.

Needed more from his forwards, his defense and in goal. Hell, he traded one of his players to the opponent this afternoon. It was an unacceptable effort for a team who is slowly slipping away from a playoff berth here in January.

So when the WIlkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were down 2-0 just 5:41 into the game, who does Vellucci turn to?

Emil Larmi.

Wait, the same Emil Larmi who the Penguins last saw trying to fight the Texas Stars back in Wilkes-Barre? The same Emil Larmi who couldn’t stop a nose bleed the last time he played in the AHL?

Yep, Emil Larmi.

The Texas Stars would win the game Friday 4-3 in a shootout, but not before the Penguins picked themselves off of the mat twice, overcoming a two goal deficit and then scoring a goal in the third to force overtime.

Probably Larmi’s best game in North America, given the level. He’s had some success playing in Wheeling with the ECHL affiliate and had a shutout, but Larmi needed a game like this to regain his confidence which was shattered the last time he suited up for the Penguins. Under the circumstances, with the Penguins circling the drain, Larmi put a stop on that with excellent saves after excellent saves.

Dustin Tokarski got the initial start and he opposed Jake Oettinger.


Lineup Notes: Shuffled again up front, Jan Drozg was in for Christopher Brown. Debutante John Nyberg was paired with Nicolas Almari on the second defensive pairing. Michael Kim was also in for Matt Abt paired with David Warsofsky. Emil Larmi backed up on the assumption to give DeSmith a night off and the further speculation that he starts Saturday in San Antonio.

Initially the first graphic had Andreas Martinsen on the fourth line but five minutes before the game, the team tweeted the above graphic stating that Devane was in.

First Period: Didn’t go well for Dustin Tokarski. Just 5:41 into the game, the Penguins were down 2-0 on goals scored by Nicholas Caamano and Ben Gleason.

Mike Vellucci didn’t waste any time going to backup Emil Larmi. Vellucci criticized the goaltending he got Wednesday, and he certainly could not be happy here, Tokarski just stopping two of four shots faced.

Larmi entering made Vellucci look like a genius. The Penguins goaltender calmed things down and the Penguins got a goal back after hard work from Kevin Roy from behind the net that made its way to Chase Berger who then found Adam Johnson in front for a goal.

Texas outshot the Penguins 12-7, including one of these shots which will end upon Larmi’s highlight reel.

Probably his best in the AHL. If he doesn’t make that save (the Penguins hadn’t scored yet) the game could have spiraled out of hand. Instead, he kept it 2-0 and you could see the confidence in him and the team in front of him building.

Second Period: Penguins came out with their tails up and ready to get the game tied. Emil Larmi made another fantastic save,this time going post to post to deny Tanner Kero.

The Penguins wouldn’t score on the first power play awarded them in the period, but they scored almost immediately after the first penalty expired when Kevin Roy scored to tied the game at two. Check this setup out:

But the Penguins would lose the lead when Texas replicated the same thing that saw the Penguins score; that is miss on the first power play attempt but score on the second. Anthony Louis with this snipe here to give the Stars the lead again.

Nothing Larmi could do on that one, that is just a dart.

Pens chased a bit but Larmi kept it a one goal lead heading to the…

Third Period: The Stars gift wrapped the Penguins back to back five on three power plays and David Warsofsky cashed on this sequence here to put the Penguins back on level terms:

Tyler noted the following:

All hail Jim Rutherford.

The Penguins killed a late Stars penalty but played great period with some timely saves by Larmi that got the game to …

Overtime: Bonkers, with Larmi making ten bell saves on ten bell saves. He was dialed in and determined not to lose in overtime. Pens had a few chances with Adam Johnson.

Shootout: Jason Robertson scored in the top of the first, Jordy Bellerive in the bottom of the second, Jan Drozg had a shot in the bottom of the third to win it but Nicholas Caamano scored in the top of the fourth and Kevin Roy missed on his chance immediately thereafter.

Three Stars: Jake Oettinger (27 saves 2) Anthony Louis (goal and 1) Nicholas Caamano (goal and shootout game winner)

The Good: The responseafter Larmi replaced Tokarski was a sight to behold. I thought personally the game was over at that point but Emil Larmi made a believer out of me this evening.

The Bad: What kind of message didn’t they get when the coach hammered every facet of the effort that they displayed Wednesday? To come out like they did and go behind like that doesn’t spell a good feeling that they can turn it around and make a playoff push.

Turning Point: In a game full of them, David Warsofsky’s power play goal in the third period guaranteed at least a point for Wilkes-Barre.

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley ends Binghamton’s eight game win streak with a 4-1 win in Allentown. That’s the Phantoms fourth win in a row…Bridgeport beats Providence 2-1….Utica beats Hartford 6-3. Justin Bailey for the Comets bags a hat trick in back to back games, the first player to do so since Mark Mancari in 2011….Springfield beats Syracuse 4-1….Charlotte and Hershey were off.

Standings: Hartford 54 — Hershey 51 — Charlotte and Providence 47 — Springfield 46 — Penguins 43 — Lehigh Valley 39 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lose 5-4 in Kalamazoo. Cam Brown and Justin Almeida each had a goal and an assist in the loss.

Texas didn’t run any video highlights Wednesday so I doubt they will tonight. I’ll look anyway and if there are any, will run em in a later edit.

Pens travel to San Antonio for a date with the Rampage at 8 Saturday. Gameday setup is here Saturday afternoon at 4.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Texas 1/17


Who: Texas Stars

Where: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

When: 8:00 p.m.

Last Game / Last Meeting: Wednesday in Texas, the Penguins lost 5-2. Adam Johnson and Kevin Roy scored for the Pens, but Tanner Kero for the Stars came away with the hat trick.

Record: For WBS: 18-16-3-3 (42 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For TEX: 18-17-2-2 (40 pts., 4th place Central Division)

Referees: Mathieu Menniti / Brett Roeland

Linesmen: Aaron Schacht / Michael Miggans

Why You Should Care: Penguins can’t have a repeat performance from Wednesday where they were badly outshot and steamrolled in the third period. They also need to kick it in gear here, coming into the weekend here they are five points out of a playoff spot.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Binghamton, probably one of the hottest teams in the AHL if you can believe it, have won eight in a row and visit Allentown to take on the Phantoms.

Next Five Games: @ SA 1/18, @ SA 1/21, @ CHA 1/24, @ CHA 1/25, vs. LV 1/31

Oula Palve Traded to Dallas 1/17

Rare that two AHL teams see their parents swap NHL contracts while those two AHL teams are in the same city together, on the morning of game.

It happened Friday. Oula Palve was traded to Dallas for defenseman John Nyberg.

Palve and Nyberg don’t have to go far, Wilkes-Barre plays Dallas’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars later today.

It’s a swap of two players that had offensive gifts playing last year overseas who, for whatever reason or another, didn’t click with the organization they were currently playing with.

For Palve, he had 51 points in 53 games playing in Finland last year. This year, he has a goal and seven assists in 37 games for Wilkes-Barre. He’s bounced around lines for Mike Vellucci’s crew, until he was shuffled out for good last week.

Nyberg has the same history, touted as an offensive defenseman but never made enough of a mark to stick.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to go far to get information on Nyberg as the great Stephen Meserve’s site 100 Degree Hockey had this to say about Nyberg back in January 2019 about Nyberg:

…He has struggled to make a mark on the lineup, bouncing in and out as a healthy scratch at times and not scoring his first AHL goal until late December. The assignment should give him a chance to play solid top pair minutes and establish himself better in the North American game.

Nyberg has 19 AHL games under his belt this season with two goals, four assists and six points with a even +/- rating.

One foreign (Nyberg is Swedish) reclamation project for another, essentially.

Gameday setup for Pens / Stars hits the blog at 4, later.