Chirps from Center Ice

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

Rock Bottom — Pens LOSE 5-0 (STJ Wins Series 4-2)

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Here’s a synopsis of the series that occurred early in this game:

At 4:42 of the first period, IceCaps forward Kael Mouillierat high sticks defenseman Simon Despres and draws blood. It’s a 4:00 power play for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and an early chance to do some real damage on the man advantage.

Instead, the Penguins don’t manage much of an offensive stay in the zone, come in offsides a lot and looked jumbled, as they have all series long. The St. John’s IceCaps kill it.

The rest, is history.

Eric O’Dell would score on a power play late in the first when Brian Dumoulin turns over a puck in front of starting goaltender Peter Mannino. Simon Despres gets called for holding that leads to the IceCaps power play goal.

In the second period, the Penguins cycle and buzz around and St. John’s goaltender Michael Hutchinson faces a barrage of shots from Tom Kostopoulos and Barry Goers but withstand it.

The very next shift, Adam Lowry is left alone on the near post as a puck is wheeled around Mannino’s net and it’s 2-0 St. John’s.

Wilkes-Barre doesn’t manage much of an offensive threat the rest of the period. Hutchinson made a big save on Mike Carman somewhere in between. He later would stop a late rush by the Penguins in the final minute.

Any chances of a Wilkes-Barre comeback were squelched early.

A blast from the top of the blue line, Blair Riley tips it in for a 3-0 IceCaps lead.

Zach Redmond scores through a screen seconds after a St. John’s power play for a 4-0 IceCaps lead.

The rout was on.

John Hynes would pull Peter Mannino with about nine minutes left. Andrew Ebbett was absolutely denied by Hutchinson back door.

Through confusion, Wilkes-Barre would take a few too many men calls.

Late, IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray scores from his own blue line into a Wilkes-Barre open net in the final minute for a 5-0 victory as the St. John’s IceCaps defeat the Penguins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and advance to the Calder Cup Finals. .

For the first time in over ten years, an East Division team will not represent the Eastern Conference in the Calder Cup Finals.

It will be the St. John’s IceCaps, who really have been the best team in the Conference all season long. Manchester and Springfield won their divisions but were both bounced in the first round. Binghamton won the East Division, but there are five great teams in that division that constantly beat the snot out of each other from October to April. Albany was surprise this season but relied more on defense and never could get the goals needed to win playoff games. Providence is a young, raw team that is a move or two away from being a powerhouse. Norfolk’s dreams went up in smoke when G John Gibson went up to Anaheim.

Untimely injuries to Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ebbett with the inability to score a single power play goal in six games against the St. John’s IceCaps were the ultimate undoing for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins this postseason.

So here we are again, another playoff year with nothing to show for it.

If you are a fan that demands Calder Cups year after year, then yes. You have every right to be upset.

I like to look at the bigger picture. It helps me keep my sanity. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are a powerhouse AHL franchise. Twelve consecutive playoff appearances and back to back Conference Finals appearances are extremely hard for any rational person to argue against.

There’s likely to be a lot of roster turnover this offseason. Simon Despres, Andrew Ebbett, Brian Gibbons, Zach Sill, Chuck Kobasew and others look to be moving on.

But refresh. Conor Sheary, Matt Rust, Josh Archibald, Matt Murray and others are this teams immediate future.

Add those to the offseason acquisitions that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will undoubtedly make this summer and it’s looking good for next season. If you are a free agent this summer with an eye on the AHL, Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre is where you will want to play, in the best division with one of the best teams out there.

A lot of people that I have to thank that make this easy and fun for a guy that works in a box and pushes paper for an actual living 9-5 Monday thru Friday. Here goes….

Personally, I’d like to thank Brian Coe and the whole Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins front office for another successful season.

Was a great first year for Mike O’Brien as the Voice of the Penguins. Russ Hryvnak doing the stories and compiling stats on game nights. It’s easy as a math illiterate as myself to have capable stats guys that do the work for you and all I have to do is hit the Twitter retweet button.

I model myself after true professionals like Jonathan Bombulie and Tom Venesky who write for the local papers and cover this team from all angles.

My best to the St. John’s IceCaps, their fans and media in the Finals.

Jason Chaimovitch and his staff in Springfield that run the behind the scenes of the AHL’s social media presence. I know I can be a pain in the rear and a critic sometimes, but the amount of work that Chaimovitch and his crew put forth year after year from start to finish is to be commended. They make it easy for a blogger without actual media credentials.

I’m the last blogger in the East Division that files a game story for their blog tonight. But I can’t forget Alex and Michael in Syracuse that run Chairman How’s Glorious Army in Syracuse…. Ever since Don Reiber left Binghamton for a warmer Florida climate, there hasn’t been a full-time blog covering the B-Sens on the Southern Tier. Bob Howard has a radio show he’s been doing for ages and occasionally moonlights with some words for a blog, but Howard has his finger on the pulse of the B-Sens and the AHL in general….My rivals in Hershey, Matt and Kyle who run Sweetest Hockey on Earth….All the guys down in Norfolk, Shawn, the dude that runs Beneath the Scope, Scott….

…..I bet you if I asked all these people I just mentioned if they would switch places with me with the success that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have had, that they would all say yes. Then they would realize that they are separating themselves from the allegiances from their team and quickly retract their decision as any good blogger would.

Biggest thank you goes to you, the reader. The countless crop of those who read, interact and share my work. Checked the page views this blog has had in its existence. It’s close to 150,000 views. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Time to wrap this up.

Oh, three stars were 3) Josh Morrissey (assist, +1) 2) Eric O’Dell (goal, +1) and 1) Michael Hutchinson (34 save shutout)

We will have our day. I know it’s been said year after disappointing year here on the blog, but I hold on to the belief that one night late in June well past my bedtime, I will be writing about the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins first ever Calder Cup Championship. It will happen.

Blog wise, I’ll have my Year in Review sometime later in the week. I’ll put up the 2014 Offseason Moves Chart soon too and track all the offseason defections to Europe, Free Agency in less than a month, and newsy type things to keep myself sharp for a great 2014-15 season of American Hockey League action.

“The longer it takes, the sweeter it will taste.” — Just remember that when you go to bed tonight or go into work tomorrow or drive by the Mohegan Sun Arena this week. We will have our day.

Let’s Go Pens!

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