Chirps from Center Ice

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

Hartzell’s Zone — Pens WIN 4-0

WBS        vs.        SYR

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Eric Hartzell is emerging as the number one goaltender for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. It’s a fact really, with Tomas Vokoun out long term and Jeff Zatkoff up as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup that Hartzell is the goalie of the future for the Pittsburgh organization. It was something that was bestowed upon him when Pittsburgh signed him out of college last season.

In the present, he’s earning it and making the most of the opportunities given.

His third shutout of the season, tied for second in the AHL, and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins roll the listless Syracuse Crunch by a score of 4-0.

The aforementioned Hartzell vs. Kristers Gudlevskis

Announced yesterday that Zach Sill had surgery to his wrist. Pittsburgh tweeted that he will be out 8-12 weeks. That puts his return at late April, beginning of May.

First Period: Pens did not take long to jump out to a 1-0 lead when Mike Carman puts a shot on net that Gudlevskis cannot smother. Paul Thompson is there to put the fluttering puck home for an early 1-0 lead. Later, Philip Samuelsson point shot gets tipped home by Tom Kostopoulos and the Pens were up 2-0. Pens were all over Syracuse in the first period, something that usually spells well for Wilkes-Barre, leading into the….

Second Period: Syracuse started to push back but Hartzell would have none of it, focusing in on a few Syracuse odd man rushes up ice and smothering any chance for a rebound attempt. Really this period was more of the Crunch trying to get on the board and the Penguins and Hartzell not letting them and trying themselves but not having any luck to extend their lead.

Third Period: Harry Zolnierczyk with what could be goal of the year candidate:

That was in slo-mo taken from my iPhone on the big screen at the arena, but Zolnierczyk makes a power move at the net, splits D Artem Sergeev and D Joey Mormina, and roofs the puck falling down. A spectacular goal and effort by Zolnierczyk.

The rest of the period had some chippyness. Tom Kostopoulos sets up Denver Manderson for his first of his AHL career late to ice it.

The Pens are now 15-0 leading after two periods.

Three Stars: 3) Denver Manderson (goal, +3) 2) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Eric Hartzell (20 save shutout)

Around the Division: Binghamton was the only other East Division team on the ice tonight. They were in Worcester and won 6-3 over the Sharks. It was the Mike Hoffman Show tonight in Massachusetts: 4-1-5, +2 was his line.

Standings: Binghamton 59 — Penguins 56 — Norfolk 52 — Hershey 50 — Syracuse 40

Conference: 1) MCH (62) 2) SPR (61) 3) BNG (59) 4) WBS (56) 5) ALB (52) 6) NOR (52) 7) STJ (51) 8) HER (50)

Wheeling Update: The Naiers hosted the Fort Wayne Komets and lost 3-1.

SendToNews Highlights: Here’s a link to the period-by-period highlights of the shootin’ match. Zolnierczyk’s goal came in the third period.

Norfolk is in Friday for what is sure to be a doozy. But for anything that breaks Thursday, I’ll have the Gameday for the Friday matchup with the Ads at 3 p.m.

Let’s Go Pens!!

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