Chirps from Center Ice

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

Ses-Three-To — Pens WIN 5-3

WBS        @       HER

5                                         3

When Mike O’Brien tweeted out Monday afternoon the lines for the Penguins matinee game against the Syracuse Crunch and noted that Tom Sestito was going to play on the top line, I tweeted this at the time…

The experiment didn’t work as the Penguins lost for the first time in 2017 to Syracuse that day.

Fast forward to Wednesday night and Sestito was back on the top line again and seeing power play time with the first unit.

No, this isn’t a situation where the Penguins are so hard up for forwards due to injuries and recalls that Sestito is forced there. Not at all. (yet)

In case you missed the Second Quarter Grades I ran Sunday afternoon, I had this to say about Tom Sestito…

Tom Sestito – 5-3-8, +2, 14 GP – Sestito is a fighter. The AHL wants to phase out fighting. Guys who fight for a living in this league will be gone in two years. Not Sestito. What does he do in response to the AHL’s crackdown on knuckle throwing? Become one of the biggest offensive threats on the ice. He has a great setup man in Teddy Blueger, and is finishing. If you fight for a living and that’s all you do, you fade away. Sestito is playing like someone who deserves to be in the lineup and will contribute with points instead of penalty minutes. You just hope he keeps it up. Grade: A-

So in keeping with leaving Tom Sestito on the top line again in Hershey, what does he do?

  • Get in a fight :05 off the opening face-off and is thrown out of the game? Nope.
  • Injure Chris Bourque with a cheap boarding penalty, takes on two Bears skaters in retaliation and is assessed 54 penalty minutes? Try again.
  • Punches a referee and goes after a fan? Nah.

Try a goal and two assists, helping the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to a 5-3 win over the Hershey Bears on Wednesday night at Giant Center.

The Penguins, for all accounts, were extremely lucky to win this game. Reason? In the third period of a 3-3 game, a period that saw the Penguins start with a 3-1 lead, I tweeted this…

They ended up with three more for a total of 12 in the second and third period. Out of those three came two more goals.

Pens good or Bears bad? I think a combination of both.

I honestly don’t know what any of that means, I looked up articles trying to explain PDO in layman terms and was met with a bunch of jargon on advanced statistics. Considering I have Horace Gooch to thank for sitting next to me in Statistics 302 in college so I could check out his answers in order to maintain a C status through my college years and pass that Statistics course in college, I’m a math illiterate. Numbers of any kind challenge me. All I know is Hershey’s is bad.

Anyway, not to bore you. C’s get degrees, by the way. Proud Coppin State College, now University Class of 2001 Alumnus right here.

Tristan Jarry opposed Joe Cannata.

Lines were…

Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Scott Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Carter Rowney – Danny Kristo
Sahir Gill – Teddy Blueger – Ryan Haggerty

Brett Stern – Tim Erixon
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers
David Warsofsky – Ethan Prow

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Warsofsky was re-assigned back to Pittsburgh Tuesday. Cameron Gaunce was recalled to Pittsburgh in the swap. This is smart roster jockeying as Warsofsky is waiver eligible…Kevin Porter was sick. Sahir Gill and Ryan Haggerty were in for the aforementioned Porter and Patrick McGrath. No other changes other than Warsofsky down for the recalled Gaunce.

First Period: The last time these two teams met back on January 8, they combined for a sum total of six goals a piece and there were constant stoppages because goaltenders were fishing pucks out of their nets. Fast forward to the present, it was an extremely first period for both teams, with no whistles for the first 10:41 of play.

Penguins were rewarded the only power play of the period but Hershey killed it easily. Later, Ethan Prow down low in his own corner went to get rid of the puck but put it right on the stick of Nathan Walker in the slot. Walker wasted no time giving the Bears a 1-0 lead. Shots were 13-10 Penguins and but for that Prow gaffe, a really even period by both teams.

Second Period: :29 in, Tom Sestito did this…

Hershey then went on a power play with Oskar Sundqvist off for a slashing penalty and hit the post three times in the first minute on said power play.

Then, with Jarry off the ice for a delayed call on the Bears, Wilkes-Barre scores to take the lead at 2-1….

That’s J-S Dea centering to Sestito who left a drop pass to Teddy Blueger who pounded it home to give the Penguins the lead.

Wilkes-Barre got a little antsy in its own end and was whistled for tripping. On the ensuing penalty kill, Tristan Jarry left his net to play a puck, mishandled it, Bears nearly score on the empty net. They didn’t. Pens got it out. Blueger relentlessly forechecked Aaron Ness into a turnover straight to Josh Archibald who scored to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead….

Bears hit another post on a later power play then later on Tim Erixon hit a post on a Penguin power play. That was five posts hit on the man advantage alone on a power play. In the second period.

If you made the trip down I-81 or watched the game on AHL Live and felt like the entire period was played in front of Tristan Jarry, you were correct. Shots were 12-5 Hershey in a period largely dominated by the Bears. But the Penguins score three times on just five shots and led by two goals heading into the…

Third Period: Paul Carey absolutely works Tim Erixon and goes end to end and scores over the glove of Tristan Jarry to put the Bears back within one. I talk about Dave Warsofsky being snubbed for all-stars. Paul Carey didn’t get named either. Carey at one point this season had a 19 game point streak for the Bears.

Defenseman Darren Dietz was left unmarked and walked right in and scored to tie the game at three a piece right past half way. In a game where it was all Hershey for the last 30 minutes of game action, it was tied.

Carter Rowney scored his fourth goal in as many games when Tom Sestito, fresh off the bench, created space to make a pass to Barry Goers who put the puck on net where Rowney was to score on a rebound to make it a 4-3 Wilkes-Barre lead….

Garrett Wilson added the insurance goal with 36.9 left in regulation on an empty net to salt the game away.

Three Stars: 3) Paul Carey (goal, -1) 2) Tom Sestito (goal, two assists, +2) and 1) Carter Rowney (game winning goal, -1)

Sestito, announced as the second star, did this…

Oh, the content!

Sestito, to the papers, as told to Tom after the game…


Before you start, Louis Robitaille used to incite Wilkes-Barre fans all the time. Braden Holtby did something similar after a shootout win one time in Wilkes-Barre where he fist pumped all the way to center ice. It cuts both ways. You just hope you aren’t on the butt end of it. Someone on the Bears that we all hate in Wilkes-Barre will do something that the Penguins fans don’t appreciate and playfully celebrate it to the chagrin of us all and we all be mad about it and boo, flip the player off and fill up the social media mentions of the Bears, the AHL and scribble on Facebook about how that player should be fined, suspended, drawn and quartered, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Around the Division: They all watched us.

Standings: Penguins (.763 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.703) — Providence (.654) — Hershey (.603) — Bridgeport (.556) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.410)

Lehigh Valley has three games in hand and are about to get really cozy with Wilkes-Barre with 11 head to head meetings starting Friday in Allentown. The Penguins have insurance in the form of a 9 point lead, but the race for the Atlantic is far, far from over.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers and ECHL in whole are on the All-Star Break up in Glens Falls.

Video highlights…

Pens travel to Allentown for a date against the Phantoms Friday at 7. Gameday setup will hit the blog Friday afternoon at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Hershey 1/18

@     her14_200

Away Game: 21

AHL Game: 560

Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Giant Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game: Monday afternoon in Syracuse, the Penguins were dealt their first loss of 2017 with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Syracuse Crunch. Carter Rowney scored the only goal for Wilkes-Barre. For Hershey, the Bears lost at home Sunday against the Binghamton Senators by a score of 4-2. Both Hershey goals were scored on the power play.

Last Meeting: January 8 in Hershey, the Penguins won a knock down drag out contest on the tail end of three games in three days by beating the Bears 6-5 in overtime. It was the last time the Penguins saw David Warsofsky as he scored the overtime game winning goal.

Record: For WBS: 28-8-3-0 (59 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For HER: 19-10-7-2 (47 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division)

Why you should care: These two teams are coming off losses and do not need a reason to get up for this game. Hershey is slumping and the Penguins have lost key contributors and are coming off their first loss of 2017 Monday afternoon in Syracuse.

Referee(s): Tyler Puddifant / Furman South

Linesmen: Richard Jondo / Jud Ritter

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @TheHersheyBears

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /TheHersheyBears

Instagram: wbspenguins / thehersheybears

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky

Broadcasters: WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS and Nick Hart @_NickHart // HER: Zack Fisch @zackfisch

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep / @ChocHockey

Radio: For WBS: WILK News Radio / For Hershey: 1460 The Ticket 

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Syracuse and Albany battle for North Division supremacy tonight in the Capital District.

Next Five Games: @ LV 1/20, HER 1/21, SYR 1/25, @ UTI 1/27, @ BNG 1/28

Wheeling Wrap 1/17

Tuesday at noon around these parts means its’ time to take a look at the ECHL affiliate in Wheeling, WV to see how the boys fared.

The Nailers played four games in five days last week starting Wednesday at home against the Toledo Walleye. The Nailers would beat the ECHL’s best Walleye by a 5-2 score. Sean Maguire continued to shine in goal, stopping 31 of 33. Christian Hilbrich and Tyler Currier both had a goal and an assist, Kevin Schulze added two assists. The Nailers struck twice on the power play.

The two teams then headed west back to Toledo, Ohio. The Walleye narrowly defeated the Nailers 4-3 on Friday. Christian Hilbrich and Andrew Ammon both had a goal and an assist each and Sean Maguire took the loss, stopping 38 of 42 shots. Toledo struck twice on the power play, the Nailers didn’t in three tries.

Wheeling then returned home for a date with the Kalamazoo Wings and were beat 5-1 on Saturday. Doug Carr took the loss in net for the Nailers. Kalamazoo struck twice on the power play. Brett Stern scored the only goal for Wheeling on the power play.

Sunday, the Nailers got revenge in the rematch with the Wings in Michigan beating Kalamazoo by a 5-2 score. Christian Hilbrich netted his first ever professional hat trick and added an assist. Sean Maguire stopped 28 of 30 and picked up the win. Gage Quinney added a pair of assists and Michael Webster had a goal and an assist.

The Nailers sit fifth in the North Division with a 18-14-3-0 record, good for 39 points, just a point back from fourth place Adirondack, three off third place Reading and five points off second place Brampton. The Manchester Monarchs lead the North Division with 49 points.

This week, Wheeling heads to Norfolk Friday to take on an Admirals team that has won six in a row and is unbeaten in 2017 before heading to Reading to meet up with the Royals for a Saturday affair.

Streak Stoppers — Pens LOSE 4-1

SYR          @          NOR

1                                              4

Before you start, no, the reason the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lost today was not because Jake Guentzel got recalled to Pittsburgh today. It wasn’t because Chad Ruhwedel was either. No, not because of Brett Stern coming up from Wheeling or Derrick Pouliot missing the game with an injury.

Here’s the facts. The Syracuse Crunch do not lose at home. Coming into this afternoons game, the Crunch were 13-3-1-2 on home ice. One of those three losses came courtesy of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Saturday. The Crunch are the number one team in the North Division and while you may want to complain about Pittsburgh taking two players from the farm here in Wilkes-Barre, try walking a mile in the shoes of a Syracuse Crunch fan. Literally everyday for the past month, maybe month and a half, the Crunch have had to deal with a roster transaction. I don’t think Syracuse has dressed the same lineup in back to back games in 20 games.

So in a rematch Monday afternoon with some roster shuffling on both sides and the situation being what it was, the Penguins lost for just the first time in 2017 and see their seven game winning streak comes to an end by a 4-1 score.

Tristan Jarry opposed Adam Wilcox.

Lines were…

Tom Sestito – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Dominik Simon – Carter Rowney – Danny Kristo
J-S Dea – Teddy Blueger – Patrick McGrath

Brett Stern – Tim Erixon
Stuart Percy – Barry Goers
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: A ton. As mentioned in the open, Brett Stern was brought up from the Wheeling Nailers on a PTO yesterday. Chad Ruhwedel was recalled to Pittsburgh with the news that Kris Letting is week to week with a lower body injury. Also, Jake Guentzel was recalled to jumpstart their offense having lost three games in a row. Derrick Pouliot was out and is day to day with a lower body injury per the broadcast.

First Period: Penguins carried play the first ten minutes of the period, but Syracuse would strike first on their first shot of the game when Yanni Gourde pounced on a defensive cross up between Barry Goers and Stuart Percy to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead…

Immediately after the goal, Garrett Wilson high sticked Cory Conacher, drew blood, and the Crunch were on a 4:00 power play. The Penguins nearly killed it, Brett Stern broke a stick, Carter Rowney gave him his, the Penguins cleared it, a puck rimming around the cage of Jarry took a funny bounce and Syracuse nearly scored on an open net. Daniel Walcott scored on the tail end of the double minor….

Jarry stopped Walcott’s first attempt but Walcott followed his shot and squeaked it past Jarry to put the Crunch up 2-0.

If this makes any sense, the Penguins were the better team in the period but the scoreboard didn’t agree with them.

First Intermission Highlights: Love that Syracuse offers these…

Second Period: Penguins came out knocking hard on the door to score a goal, but Wilcox wasn’t answering. Then, Syracuse scored to extend their lead to 3-0.

Two issues here. Linesmen called the Penguins for icing setting up the face-off in front of Jarry. I didn’t think it was, the players on the ice didn’t think it was and Clark Donatelli didn’t think it was. That’s the first problem. The second problem was that drop by the linesman. You’ve read recently how I think that the linesmen have been worse than the referees.

Penguins finally go their first power play of the game and Seth had this to say about that when it came and went…

Carter Rowney would score his third game in as many games since returning from injury off this nice rebound of an initial Dominik Simon shot…

Penguins couldn’t score on another power play after the Rowney goal. Adam Wilcox stoned Dominik Simon with the glove in the slot off of a face-off. A big time save by Wilcox to keep it a two goal lead heading into the third.

Second Period Highlights: 

Third Period: Penguins would outshoot the Crunch 10-3 in the third period but Adam Wilcox stood on his head in the period and preserved the two goal lead for his side. The Penguins hit a post. Wilkes-Barre had two power play chances, couldn’t score. In fact, going with a 6-on-4 advantage with Jarry pulled, Matthew Peca hit an empty net to make it 4-1 Crunch.

Postgame, as told to Seth Lakso of The Citizens’ Voice Clark Donatelli said that the Lyme Disease that was bothering Lukas Bengtsson is back again and that Derrick Pouliot’s injury is walking a fine line between day to day and week to week. Personally, I wouldn’t expect to see Pouliot Wednesday in Hershey nor Friday in Lehigh Valley. I think they re-assess Thursday maybe at best to determine his status for the weekend which includes a Saturday home game against Hershey.

One other note, Tristan Jarry took the loss and this was his first since December 9 at home against the Hershey Bears.

Three Stars: 3) Mathieu Brodeur (assist, +1) 2) Adam Wilcox (31 saves on 32 shots) 1) Daniel Walcott (goal, assist, +1)

Around the Division: One other game this afternoon on Martin Luther King Day, the best third period team in the AHL in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were down 3-1 in Springfield, rattle off three straight goals in the games final 3:57 and beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 4-3.

Standings: Penguins (.756 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.703) — Providence (.654) — Hershey (.618) — Bridgeport (.556) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.410)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off, they visit Norfolk this Friday. More tomorrow in the weekly Wheeling Wrap.

Video highlights in a nice tidy tweet…

In case you missed it, I published the Second Quarter Grades and the Week 14 AHL Power Rankings on Sunday. Check out the links or keep scrolling down.

But for anything breaking, look for the Wheeling Wrap tomorrow at noon then the Gameday setup against Hershey on Wednesday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Syracuse 1/16

@     syr14_200

Away Game: 20

AHL Game: 553

Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Onondaga County War Memorial Arena

When: 1:00 p.m.

Media Kit

Last Game / Last Meeting: Saturday in Syracuse, the Penguins win 3-1. Wilkes-Barre went down early in the first, then scored three goals in the third period to win their seventh straight game and remain unbeaten in 2017. Dominik Simon scored a goal and assisted on another. Jake Dotchin scored for Syracuse.

Record: For WBS: 28-7-3-0 (59 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For SYR: 19-10-2-5 (45 pts., 1st place North Division)

Why you should care: Rematch Monday afternoon in Syracuse. How do the Crunch respond after allowing the Penguins to comeback and score three goals on them in the third period Saturday? This could be a trap game for the Penguins.

Referee(s): Tyler Puddifant / Stephen Reneau

Linesmen: Francois Dussureault / Jason Brown

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay / @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /syracusecrunch

Instagram: wbspenguins / officialsyracusecrunch

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky // @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: Speaking of trap games, the Phantoms are in Springfield taking on the Thunderbirds. Lehigh Valley lost their last time out against Hershey, how do they respond this afternoon?

Next Five Games:  @ HER 1/18, @ LV 1/20, HER 1/21, SYR 1/25, @ UTI 1/27

AHL Power Rankings: Week 14

With games going off on Monday afternoon, it’s a Sunday evening edition of the Week 14 Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings.

No change at the very top, but two teams in the top three switch spots then chaos the rest of the way down.

If you didn’t link in direct, please click through the jump to see where your favorite team ended up this week.

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2016-17 Second Quarter Grades

With their 3-1 win in Syracuse Saturday, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins crossed halfway in the 2016-17 AHL Hockey Season. They are the best team in the AHL and have been for about a month or so and one of the AHL’s top teams all season.

So making grades for the second quarter should be a walk in the park.

So here’s how it works, everyone who skated in a game in the last 19 games for the Penguins since December 3 gets a blurb, players that have played in 6 or more games get a grade. Only those stats during the 19 games played are listed in stats.

Please skip through the jump if you didn’t link in direct and let’s get started.

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