Chirps from Center Ice

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

The Battle of Five with Sticks, Four with Whistles — Pens LOSE 3-2 (OT)

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The officiating in the American Hockey League has, in this writer’s opinion, gotten a lot better in the past five years.

How many times would you cringe in your seat when you learned that Nygel Pelletier was assigned to work the game you were watching that night? What about Harry Dumas?

You don’t see that anymore because the AHL finally got serious about who they put in charge of their on ice product. The officiating has improved and the awful referees are filtered away.

But you see, it’s still a work in process.

The officiating crew of Andrew Wilk, a referee who worked ECHL games on the West Coast and Troy Murray, who I never heard of before this season, doled out a cumulative total of 14 power plays for the St. John’s IceCaps this weekend and eight in this game alone. The AHL wants all games in 2019 to be manned by the four official process, but pairing two rookie referees together is a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly what that was in this weekend’s games.

I don’t want to dedicate the entire lede to the horrific officiating, because this game with the IceCaps and Penguins, was very entertaining.

A 3-2 overtime loss for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. The Penguins battled back from 2-0 deficit to get a goal late in the second period and then tied it in the third with a relentless attack on St. John’s.

The Penguins take 3 of 4 points out of the weekend and will remain in first place in the Atlantic Division, and what will ultimately be lost in all of this is the play in goal by IceCaps goaltender Yann Danis. Danis, a backup to Charles Lindgren in St. John’s, is a former AHL Goaltender of the Year and single handedly kept his team in the game. Any other mortal goaltender sees six or seven slip by and the officials could have hit Tom Kostopoulos with a steel chair and I am not mentioning a word of that in the story because the Penguins win easy. But it didn’t work out like that.

Casey DeSmith opposed the aforementioned Yann Danis.

Lines were…

Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Danny Kristo – J-S Dea – Reid Gardiner
Ryan Haggerty – Jarrett Burton – Patrick McGrath

Stuart Percy – Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
David Warsofsky – Barry Goers

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: There was a discussion earlier in the week about not having Danny Kristo play in back to back games to get his wind back, but Kristo played again Sunday. Barry Goers took the spot of Tim Erixon and Sahir Gill yielded to Patrick McGrath.

First Period: Clark Donatelli said postgame on Saturday that he wanted a stronger start by his team Sunday. He didn’t get it. The IceCaps out chanced the Penguins off the hop, then scored on a Chris Terry power play goal that gave them a 1-0 lead. Terry scored a one timer from the dot, much like he did the night before.

The Penguins offense started to come alive, but they couldn’t solve Danis with 20 shots on him through 20 minutes. Pens had a lot of chances, but Danis kept them out of his nets. Ten of those shots came from defenseman and out of those ten, five came from Chad Ruhwedel.

Second Period: Penguins battled more than just the St. John’s IceCaps this period, they battled the officials. Troy Murray and Andrew Wilk called seemingly everything they could against the Penguins. Some of these infractions looked harmless…

J-S Dea crosschecking at 11:24.

Patrick McGrath slashing at 12:23.

My Vine identifies it as a roughing penalty. Mike O’Brien called it that and I thought I saw one of those bozos in stripes signal for roughing.

Three other things happened in the period. First, while shorthanded, Garrett Wilson nearly scored on this play…

That’s referee Troy Murray with a look at it in real time, then he took a look at the video replay and the call on the ice of “no goal” was affirmed.

Second, while killing another penalty, Oskar Sundqvist was hooked from behind. No call by either of the referees on the ice.

Third, with four seconds left, Oskar Sundqvist scored on a rebound of a David Warsofsky shot that cut the deficit to one heading into the third period…

Third Period: The Penguins limited the IceCaps to just five shots on goal in the period and were all over the IceCaps in the period. Finally, despite more questionable calls by the officiating crew, David Warsofsky or J-S Dea tied the game with this goal…

Josh Archibald nearly made it a 3-2 game for the Penguins but Yann Danis made the stop with his stick. DeSmith later made a nice stop off of a Penguins turnover pun front. Despite battling five guys with sticks and four men with whistles after 60 minutes, it was off to…

Overtime: Wilkes-Barre had many chances. Kevin Porter fed Chad Ruhwedel cutting in the slot but Danis made the save, Josh Archibald fired a puck high. Pens cam win two on one, Danis made the save, and forwarded a pass up to an IceCap skater and St. John’s was off on a three on one. DeSmith made the save, then Ruhwedel turned the puck over and Chris Terry ended the madness on this snipe…

End to end action, which is exactly what three on three overtime is supposed to be.

The Pens have recorded a point in all seven of Casey DeSmith’s starts this season.

Three Stars: 3) Chad Ruhwedel (goal, nine shots, +1) 2) Sven Andrighetto (goal, assist, even) and 1) Yann Danis (50 saves on 52 shots)

Around the Division: Hershey beats a road weary Syracuse team 4-2 at home.  Over 20,000 teddy bears were tossed on the ice after Garrett Mitchell’s first period goal…Lehigh Valley final solves the Bridgeport Sound Tigers puzzle with a 3-2 win in Connecticut….Providence beats Springfield 2-1 in overtime. The Bruins have points in their last nine games…Hartford is unable to sweep the Marlies in Toronto dropping a 5-3 contest to their Canadian foes.

Standings: Three way tie in points at the top, but the league doesn’t rank them by points anymore, they do it by percentage points. So it’s as follows: Penguins (.738 percentage points) — Lehigh Valley (.705) — Hershey (.705) — Bridgeport (.682) — Providence (.568) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.405)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off. They are back in action this Friday in Brampton, Ontario, Canada when they take on the Beast, who are the ECHL affiliate of the St. John’s IceCaps. The weekly Wheeling Wrap will recap the week that was for the Nailers Tuesday at noon.

Here are the video highlights of the game…

The Week 8 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog Monday at 4.

Let’s Go Pens!

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