Chirps from Center Ice

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

North Division Preview

Regular AHL

Gimme five! Welcome to the fifth annual installment of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Team Previews. This process involves an examination of every AHL team, even the ones that the Penguins do not play.

For those unfamiliar, this process involves NHL Affiliation, record last season, playoff information, Head Coach, Arena, ECHL affiliate information, offseason moves, media coverage and fan blog information, team social media information (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and how many games the team plays against the Penguins.

I also add the, “case for” and “case against” each team. With these teams that are unfamiliar to the Penguins, I may sound like I have no idea what I am talking about.

The American Hockey League realigned this season, again. The two new teams are the Adirondack Flames and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. I’ll address divisional additions and subtractions in each Division caption.

Don’t forget to follow the AHL @TheAHL on Twitter, /TheAHL on Facebook and TheAHL on Instagram.

Here we go…



Today, we begin in the Western Conference with the North Division. The Penguins do not play anyone in this division, nor do they play any Western Conference opponents at all this season. The changes here in the North Division are the Lake Erie Monsters out and the Adirondack Flames in. The Flames are the reincarnate of the Abbotsford Heat.


NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames

Last Year: 43-25-5-3 (94 pts., 2nd place West Division, playing as the Abbotsford Heat)

Playoffs: 5 seed — Lost in four games to the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Ryan Huska

Arena: Glens Falls Civic Center

ECHL Affiliation: Colorado Eagles

Offseason Moves: Brad Thiessen, Sena Acolatse, Mathieu Tousignant

The case for: The Flames are eager to build off of last seasons success, where they were a contender for a majority of the year, in a new city with a great fanbase.

The case against: Adirondack is probably in the most competitive division in the Western Conference.

Media Coverage: Diana Nearhos for the Post Star

Fan Blog: None — or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @AHLFlames

Facebook: /AHLFlames

Instagram: AHLFlames

Broadcaster: Cameron Close

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 33-35-1-7 (74 pts., 5th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre

Arena: FirstOntario Centre

ECHL Affiliation: Wheeling Nailers

Offseason Moves: T.J. Hensick, Jake Dowell, Joe Finley, Eric Tangradi

The case for: Bulldogs showed promise last year but couldn’t put it together. Does another year and the arrival of All-Star Hensick swing things in their favor?

The case against: It’s going to be easier said than done in Hamilton this season. Even with a slight improvement, that may not be enough to make the Bulldogs playoff contenders.

Media Coverage: Teri Pecoskie for The Hamilton Spectator / Dan Kramer for TSN 690 / The Bulldogs Hockey Report

Fan Blog: None — or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @BulldogsAHL

Facebook: /hamiltonbulldogs

Instagram: bulldogsahl

Broadcaster: Matt Holmes

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 37-28-6-5 (85 pts., 2nd place North Division)

Playoffs: 7 seed — Lost in five games to the Chicago Wolves in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Chadd Cassidy

Arena: Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial

ECHL Affiliation: Elmira Jackals

Offseason Moves: Tyson Strachan

The case for: Amerks look to build off of last years second place finish in the North Division.

The case against: The Amerks always come into a season as marginal playoff contenders. There are a lot of other marginal playoff contenders that upgraded this offseason.

Media Coverage: Kevin Oklobzija for the Democrat and Chronicle

Fan Blog: Amerks Sin Bin

Twitter: @AmerksHockey

Facebook: /RochesterAmericans

Instagram: amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 45-25-2-4 (96 pts., 1st place North Division)

Playoffs: 3 seed — Lost in seven games to the Texas Stars in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Gord Dineen

Arena: Ricoh Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears

Offseason Moves: Denver Manderson, Spencer Machacek, Brendan Mikkelson

The case for: Last years division champions look to repeat, again. If they put it all together this season, they shouldn’t have a problem.

The case against: Competition is going to be stiff with a hungry Utica squad and a strong Adirondack club.

Media Coverage: Kyle Cicerella (at large)

Fan Blog: None — or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

Facebook: /TorontoMarlies

Instagram: torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 35-32-5-4 (79 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Travis Green

Arena: Utica Memorial Auditorium

ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings

Offseason Moves: Linden Vey, Dustin Jeffrey

The case for: The Comets need to continue the momentum from late last season, where they were narrowly edged out of a playoff spot despite a terrible start.

The case against: It’s all about the first month of the season for Utica. Another bad start will probably end up dooming the Comets postseason chances again.

Media Coverage: Don Laible for Comets Tales / Utica Observer Dispatch

Fan Blog: Comets Army

Twitter: @UticaComets / Comets In Game

Facebook: /UticaComets

Instagram: uticacomets

Broadcaster: Brendan Burke

vs. WBS: Do not play.

In keeping with prior years, we double stack Divisional Previews on Day One, so check back at noon today to check out the Midwest Division.

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