Chirps from Center Ice

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

Weekend Preview: Checkers with Ghosts

I am replacing the old “Gameday” setups for something new, a Weekend Setup which for me is going to be easier to write and put together. Most of what was contained in the Gameday setups will carryover in these, but instead of writing 76 of them, which is a bear when you really don’t want to sometimes, I am only going to run these once or so a week previewing the weekend set of games ahead. Every game that the Penguins play this season will get a mention, so I am not going to miss any game, don’t worry. Your input is vital to these, so let me know what you think.

Also, NEW CATEGORY ALERT – say hello to “Weekend Preview”

Anyway, here we go…

The Setup

The Penguins are off on opening night in the AHL, with 12 teams playing Friday night and just two (Bridgeport visits Hartford) Atlantic Division teams getting started tonight. It’s a rare, but usual Friday at the start of the season, night off for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton.

Wilkes-Barre hosts Lehigh Valley Saturday night at 6:05 and Charlotte Sunday afternoon at 3:05. Charlotte will be in Hershey Saturday before trekking up to visit the Penguins for a Sunday matinee.

It important to note that for Saturday night home games in Wilkes-Barre this season, every game will start at 6:05. Jeff Barrett explained why:

“We made a conscious effort to move our Saturday home games to an hour earlier in order to accommodate our many families who come to the games with young children,” said Penguins CEO Jeff Barrett. “Down the line, we hope to have the opportunity to host some post-game events for these nights, too. Fans should stay tuned on that front.”

Who’s in Goal

It’s probably going to be the Alex D’Orio show Saturday then Louis Domingue Sunday against Charlotte. I’d guess that Felix Sandstrom goes for Lehigh Valley Saturday and Christopher Gibson goes Sunday for the Checkers.

What can we learn about the Penguins this week?

It’s really going to be interesting, because you have one subset of fans that thinks they can be a playoff team and another cadre of fans that don’t have them winning more than 30 games. It’s a young, hungry side playing against a team that is better than them and more established on paper in Lehigh Valley (also a blood rival they will see 11 more times this weekend) and a Charlotte team that didn’t play last year because of COVID and splitting an affiliation with Seattle that looks good, at least on paper. Do you take a 1-1 start right now? Do you feel good starting 0-2? It’s a lot to build off of. It’s going to be a competitive division and every percentage point is going to count. Get off on the right foot and catch some teams sleeping now while you have the home ice advantage.

Who is running the show?

History is going to be made Saturday night because for the first time ever in the AHL, you will have a woman calling penalties. Katie Guay makes her AHL officiating debut donning the orange armbands, joined by Brandon Schrader. Guay is part of nine other female officials hired by the League this year. Joined on the lines with Guay and Schrader, J.P. Waleski and Patrick Dapuzzo will call offsides, break up scrums, handle most of the faceoffs and rule on icing calls. On Sunday, Michael Zyla, another new referee this year is joined by Brandon Schrader, who will stick around after Saturday’s assignment. On the lines Sunday afternoon are Jud Ritter and J.P. Waleski.

Looking ahead…

Pens have a home game next Friday, October 22 against the Hartford Wolf Pack, then a rare Saturday night off, then make their first road trip of the season down the PA Turnpike to Allentown to play the Phantoms next Sunday afternoon. Lehigh Valley returns the favor and visit the Penguins for a Wednesday night game in Wilkes-Barre on October 27. The season series against the Phantoms will be 25% over before November 1!

Give us a Bold Prediction

I still won’t like Sunday afternoon games.

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