Chirps from Center Ice

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

Sunday Ketchup

Well, things are picking up so may as well bust off a blog post summarizing what’s probably already been summarized elsewhere.

First, there were some questions regarding the arena mandates as far as COVID is involved. Will you need to show proof of vaccination in order to take in a game and all that like some other places in the League are requiring? No, or at least not yet.

Know before you go. Masks recommended, cashless concessions. I don’t really like under $5 transactions on my credit card, so $3 or whatever for a soda or a box of popcorn may be a few and far between idea for me every now and again. What they should do is offer gift cards or reloadable food cards you can use in the arena for those who go to more than just one game like me. Heaven help us if the transaction system ever goes down.

Pittsburgh training camp continues and there have been the usual cuts and what not. A notable name was Matt Bartkowski, a defensemen they invited to camp on a PTO. The Penguins released him Saturday and not long after Coal Street announced an AHL contract for him. Enough of an impression left between both sides that the veteran Bartowski signs an AHL deal with the affiliate. Wilkes-Barre looks stacked on defense.

Training camp opened Sunday morning on Coal Street. Full list of participants here. It’s a group of familiar names plus those released by Pittsburgh’s camp so far. A local name on there is Charlie Spetz, who played for Wilkes University. Coal Street featured him in a story Sunday afternoon. Spetz signed a contract with Roanoke of the Southern Professional Hockey League, which is a notch below the ECHL.

Do I expect Spetz to make the team? No. Wilkes-Barre is stacked at defense, a position Spetz plays. But, like Bartowski, it’s all about making a positive impression with the option that one day he gets a chance to play for the Penguins.

Later, it was announced that Head Coach J.D. Forrest and his assistant Kevin Porter agreed to a two year contract extension. Forrest took a team to .500 in a joke of an exhibition season against three tough opponents (sorry, Binghamton) and the team looks (at least on paper) to be better than last year, so reward the staff with a two year extension and see what 2021-22 brings.

I have the Penguins as a six seed. Hershey, Lehigh Valley and Providence are the class of the field. Hartford I have finishing last and some combination of either Springfield or Charlotte finishes seventh. But that’s today, on the first day of training camp as opposed to 40 or 50 games in, with call ups, trades and injuries and all that.

Anyway, you will get more thoughts on how the rest of the division sets up next week when I roll out my previews. Next up, a Wednesday and Friday preseason home game against the Phantoms Bears, respectively.

Have a good week and we’ll talk to you Wednesday.

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