Chirps from Center Ice

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

The Barber Shop — Pens LOSE 4-2

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The other headline would have been, “Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.”

Ryan Haggerty’s two goal effort is bested by Hershey’s Riley Barber’s hat trick as the Hershey Bears win 4-2 in Wilkes-Barre to separate themselves from the Penguins by six points in the Atlantic Division race.

The Penguins for whatever reason could not break the press that the Bears had on them all night long. It was like a giant Chocolate and White blanket just covered the entire ice. You would swear that the Bears knew what the exit play before the Penguins even executed.

After a scoreless first period which felt like a chess match, Riley Barber deflected an Aaron Ness one time shot from the near side three seconds after a Hershey two man advantage power play expired in the second period.

Ryan Haggerty would provide all of Wilkes-Barre’s offense in the second period and the game when he made a move around a guy at the high slot and ripped a shot through bodies that found the back of the net to tie the game at one.

Joseph Cramarossa found a streaking Haggerty off of the bench on a cross ice pass that connected for a goal and the Penguins were up 2-1 heading into the third.

Those were my two tweets as the third period started.

No one helped out Zach Trotman and bang, Megna unabated and it’s a tie game.

And yes Joe, you do hate to see it.

Back to the chess match we saw in the first until Barber scored mid slot for his second of the game that gave Hershey a 3-2 lead with 3:41 left to play in regulation.

With Jarry pulled and a time out to set things up in the end, the Pens got close with J-S Dea getting robbed point blank, Barber sweeps clear a puck that travels in a straight line down the ice for an empty net goal from about 170′ away.

I mean that’s it. It wasn’t a game marred by penalties. Wilkes-Barre got in trouble in the second, but that was erased by Haggerty’s goals right after. The Pens could not score on the only power play that they were awarded.

The game lacked a true scorer from the Penguins in the first period. I keep saying it, but Teddy Blueger is missed in these parts. With what’s left, J-S Dea is in a slump, Joseph Blandisi’s new car smell has faded, and Ryan Haggerty remained hot with 9-3-12 in his last eleven games.

Tristan Jarry took the loss. It really can’t be pinned on him. A one time deflection on a power play, a man left unmarked streaking down the slot, same in the mid slot and the empty net goal doesn’t go against him.

Here’s how they lined up.

Lineup Notes: No Adam Johnson tonight. He’s been sick this week. Pat McGrath skated as the extra body. Linus Ölund drew in. Lines were shook up as a result. Flip Haggerty and Blandisi on top line wing. Hayes in Johnson’s spot, third line intact and Ölund on fourth line. On defense, Macoy Erkamps went in for Blake Siebenaler.

Three Stars: 

The Good: Ryan Haggerty should get the “C” pinned to his chest if Garrett Wilson remains up for the duration.

The Bad: Without looking, when was the last time the Penguins won at home? It was February 1 against Cleveland, a 7-2 throttling of the Monsters that night. If the Pens want an easy way into playoffs, it’s going to come at home where the Pens play nine times in the month of March. The Penguins are 10-13-2-0 at home. That is not good and downright unacceptable.

Turning Point: Barber’s second goal that gave the Bears the lead is the easy, obvious choice.

Around the Division: Charlotte beats Lehigh Valley 2-1….Bridgeport and Providence go to overtime and the Sound Tigers get the OT win 5-4….Hartford beat Springfield 3-2.

Standings: Charlotte 77 — Bridgeport 69 — Hershey 63 — Providence 62 — Lehigh Valley 60 — Penguins 57 — Springfield 54 — Hartford 52.

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Setting Up Saturday: Lehigh Valley and Charlotte rematch. Bridgeport hosts Springfield. Rockford visits Hershey. Providence travels to Hartford. You want a Checkers, Sound Tigers, IceHogs and Wolf Pack regulation win.

Video Highlights: 

Wilkes-Barre is off Saturday. They are back in action Sunday at 3 pm against Rockford. Gameday setup hits the blog here Sunday at 11 am.

Let’s Go Pens!

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