Chirps from Center Ice

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

Sam’s Laff Factory — Pens WIN 5-4 (OT)


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There was under a minute left to play in the third period, Wilkes-Barre was down one and getting buried in shots and were on track to go points off of Providence for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic.

That’s when Sam Lafferty went to work.

With Jarry pulled, the Penguins rookie scored to complete his hat trick to force overtime. Ryan Haggerty would then score on a breakaway to give the Penguins the extra point and the win as Wilkes-Barre wins 5-4 in overtime.

The Providence Bruins defeated the Binghamton Senators, so the deficit to the Bruins in fourth remains as it was when the game started this evening, seven. The Penguins burn off the game in hand on Providence Sunday afternoon at home against Springfield. It can get to five with a regulation or overtime win. That would then set up a huge meeting with Providence where, with the same regulation or overtime win, can get the defat to three.

But that’s counting the chickens before they hatch.

Moral, they still have life. It’s not an ideal situation, but if they had lost the game tonight in regulation, their playoff hopes would have been entirely extinguished in my book. The win gives them enough to keep them in the heads of the Bruins.

Tristan Jarry opposed Alex Lyon in a rematch from Friday night.

Lines were…

Lineup: Shuffled up the forward lines but for the top line. Patrick McGrath went in for Trevor Yates. No changes on D other than Jusso Riikola pairing with Chris Summers. Thirteenth straight start for Tristan Jarry. Chris Summers skated in his 500th AHL game.

First Period: A really testy period by both teams, with the bad blood on display boiling over rom Friday night. The Penguins jumped out to the lead early when Sam Lafferty thundered down the slot and backhanded a shot past Alex Lyon to give the Pens a 1-0 lead…

But :28 later, a low shot by Mark Friedman that was kicked out by Jarry went right to Philip Samuelsson and in to make it a 1-1 game.

Penguins spent the final half of the period on a power play it felty like as the Phantoms took penalty after penalty. Wilkes-Barre had two separate :20 two man advantages.

With one second left on the final one, Joseph Blandisi scored to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

Another nice backhand, this time with a pass instead of a shot, by Sam Lafferty to Blandisi for the shot and goal.

Second Period: It was the Penguins turn to take all the penalties and have a long two man disadvantage but they got out of it.

Sam Lafferty added another goal to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead.

Greg Carey had two chances in the slot and didn’t miss on his second one. It was a one goal lead all of a sudden.

Cole Bardreau scored to make it a tie game late.

Lehigh Valley had slowly percolated enough and this was the result.

Third Period: Tristan Jarry should be the Penguins MVP. If the Penguins do manage to make playoffs this season, it will because of Jarry and the plays that he makes to keep the team in the game at the moment. Like this sequence early on in the period.

Byron Froese scored to give the Phantoms the go ahead goal and a 4-3 lead.

Looking bleak, it didn’t look like the Penguins were going to score on even terms, then Lafferty and his magic took over.

That’s a hat trick. Second one in the building by an opponent, the first was a few weeks ago by Jimmy Hayes.

It also forced…

Overtime: Periscoped here…

If you don’t want to watch it all from start to finish, Ryan Haggerty stole a puck in the neutral zone, skated in and….


Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Providence beats Binghamton 3-1. The rest of the scores are really meaningless but I will give them to you anyway. Hershey loses in Cleveland 5-2, Charlotte beats Hartford 3-1, Laval beats Springfield 3-2 in overtime and Bridgeport beats Belleville 2-1.

Standings: Charlotte 94 — Bridgeport 84 — Hershey 79 — Providence 79 — Penguins 72 — Lehigh Valley 71 — Springfield 69 — Hartford 65

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose a close one in Kalamazoo 3-2. Winston Day Chief, one of the best names in hockey, scored for the Nailers in the loss.

Setting Up Sunday: Everyone is talking about Providence, but if you just noticed above, the Hershey Bears are on the same points as the Bruins with 79. They rematch with the Monsters Sunday. The Bruins are off.

If Coal Street puts up a video high light package or Lehigh Valley for that matter, it will run here.

Gameday setup for Sunday’s game against Springfield hits the blog Sunday at 11 am.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Lehigh Valley 3/23


Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

 Where: PPL Center

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game / Last Meeting: Last night in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens lost 3-2. Ryan Haggerty had both goals. Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored a pair also, one was the game winner just :28 intro the third period.

Record: For WBS: 30-25-7-3 (70 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For LV: 32-27-3-3 (70 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Kenny Anderson / Stephen Reneau

Linesmen: Jud Ritter / Jason Mandroc

Why You Should Care: Essentially must win for the Penguins tonight to maintain any iota of hope of catching Providence who leads these teams playing tonight in Allentown by seven points. Winning tonight doesn’t guarantee anything, but losing all but writes off the Penguins chances, barring a miracle, of a very late season charge at the four seed in the Atlantic.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Other Game to Watch: Providence hosts the listless Binghamton Devils, who have lost nine straight.

Next Five Games: vs. SPR 3/24, vs. PRO 3/27, vs. SPR 3/30, vs. BRI 4/2, vs. BNG 4/5

Nick NAK, Paddy Whack — Pens LOSE 3-2


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It is probably all moot anyway, since Providence keeps winning. The Bruins control their own destiny at this point and have seven point leads on both the Penguins and Phantoms tonight, eight if you consider the tie breaker.

The Bruins shutout the Belleville Senators tonight 2-0. Troy Mann, coach of the Senators, should probably get AHL Coach of the Year for the turnaround in Belleville this season. Mann has the Senators primed as a playoff team in the North Division.

His Senators were completely shut down tonight and had just 14 shots on goal.. This after the Bruins traveled to and from Laval, Quebec to play a midweek game against the Rocket, one that they lost in a shootout.

So it’s message sent and delivered by Jay Leach’s Providence Bruins, who are seven clear of Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre with ten games left.

Penguins lose 3-2 Friday night in Wilkes-Barre. Saturday is essentially must win to just to hope to maintain a seven point deficit over Providence, who plays at home again against Binghamton team who have lost nine straight.

Tristan Jarry opposed Alex Lyon.

Here is how they lined up:

Pittsburgh recalled Adam Johnson Thursday and returned Adam Johnson and Just Riikola came with him. Linus Ölund and Tim Erixon yielded for them from Tuesday in Hershey.

Pens jumped out to a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Ryan Haggerty goal where he stole a puck at center ice, skated in and scored.

Shots were 8-6 Penguins after one. Tristan Jarry was dialed in.

Phantoms score twice to go ahead 2-1 when Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored on a nice feed from Philip Sameulsson and then Chris Conner completely walked past Jeff Taylor and stuffed the puck under the pad of Jarry to give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead.

Ryan Haggerty scored at the end of the period when Lyon tried to home run a pass out of his zone which was intercepted.

Phantoms score :28 into the third period when Aube-Kubel scored again to make it 3-2.

Wilkes-Barre had two opportunities on the power play to tie the game back up, but failed. There is your turning point.

Alex Lyon locked things down from there and the Penguins ran out of time.

Here are your three stars:

Here are the video highlights:

These teams rematch Saturday in Allentown. Gameday setup hits the blog here Saturday at 3.


Two power plays in the third period after Lehigh Valley has just scored to go up 3-2 is the turning point of this one, a 3-2 loss for the Pens.

Providence won 2-0 over Belleville. It may all be meaningless at this point, Bruins go up seven on Wilkes-Barre for the four seed.

Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre rematch Saturday in Allentown.

More in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Lehigh Valley 3/22


Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

 Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Tuesday in Hershey, the Pens lost 1-0 in overtime. Tristan Jarry stopped 38 shots. For Lehigh Valley, they hosted Toronto on Saturday and won 4-3. Chris Conner scored with under a second left to play in regulation to give the Phantoms the full two points.

Last Meeting: March 13 in Allentown, the Pens won 4-1. Jimmy Hayes had a hat trick.

Record: For WBS: 30-24-7-3 (70 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division) // For LV: 31-27-3-3 (68 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Kenny Anderson / Stephen Reneau

Linesmen: Tyler Loftus / Tom DellaFranco

Why You Should Care: Very important game tonight for both teams who see the other as a chance to get into the playoff picture here late on in March due to the fact that the teams face off against each other again Saturday and after this twice more. Who wants it more becomes the question? Expect Tristan Jarry in goal tonight, making his twelves straight start.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Promotion(s): EYEWITNESS NEWS FAN FRIDAY /  BAYARD PRINTING – TIMES TRIBUNE & CITIZENS VOICE TEAM PHOTO — Enjoy great hockey at a great price with $14 lower bowl tickets, courtesy of our friends at Eyewitness News. Fans ages 21 and over can enjoy select draft beers for just $2 from 6-7:30pm.  And everyone is invited to stick around after the game for our Citizens Voice / Scranton Times Tribune postgame autograph session, featuring a pair of Penguins players. All fans in attendance can take home a 2018-19 Penguins team photo, courtesy of Bayard Printing, the Times Tribune & Citizens Voice.*

Other Game to Watch: Both teams will be interested in the Providence Bruins, who play host to the Belleville Senators tonight.

Next Five Games: @ LV 3/23, vs. SPR 3/24, vs. PRO 3/27, vs. SPR 3/30, vs. BRI 4/2

* – promo information credit to

AHL Power Rankings: Week 24

We are less than a month away from the Calder Cup Playoffs. We have solid playoff teams and teams still battling to get it.

Now, we can start having a discussion of Calder Cup favorites. I think your choice is going to be my choice and it may be bolstered by the week they just had.

Can anyone beat the Charlotte Checkers, our number one team this week, in a playoff series?

Syracuse, our number two team this week, gave it a good run this past week, but that would only come with the Crunch getting out of the North which a matchup against the number three team in Belleville may not be an automatic guarantee.

Bakersfield and Chicago round out the top five. The Condors smoked Ontario in their only action this week and the Wolves are battling for the division championship in the Central.

Click past the Wolves to see where your favorite team ended up this week.


Last Week: RCH 1 @ CHA 4, RCH 1 @ CHA 3, SYR 2 @ CHA 1 (OT), SYR 2 @ CHA 4
We don’t think there is a team that can touch the Checkers in a seven game series. They should be your favorites for the Calder Cup this season.


This Week: vs. HFD 3/23, vs. HFD 3/24, @ BRI 3/27
Record: 42-15-7-1


Last Week: HFD 2 @ SYR 3, BNG 1 @ SYR 4, SYR 2 @ CHA 1 (OT), SYR 2 @ CHA 4
Split a series with Charlotte this past week. We’d slightly like the Crunch’s chances against the Checkers than say, Rochester.


This Week: vs. UTI 3/23, @ BRI 3/24, @ BEL 3/27
Record: 41-18-4-2


Last Week: LAV 3 @ BEL 2 (SO), LAV 5 @ BEL 6 (SO), UTI 1 @ BEL 3
You can probably start buying the ink in Belleville for those playoff tickets after this 5 of 6 point week.


This Week: @ PRO 3/22, @ BRI 3/23, vs. SYR 3/27
Record: 33-25-3-5


Last Week: ONT 0 @ BAK 7
Smoked Ontario Saturday in their only action of the week. Come back for seconds and thirds this week with two more against the Reign.


This Week: @ ONT 3/22, vs. ONT 3/27
Record: 37-17-3-1


Last Week: CLE 3 @ CHI 2, SA 2 @ CHI 6, CHI 1 @ RFD 2 (SO)
Wolves are a lock for the postseason, but the division championship remains in doubt. Will probably come down to the final day, but a two point cushion now in Rosemont may as well be twelve.


This Week: @ TEX 3/22, @ SA 3/23, @ SA 3/26
Record: 37-19-5-3

Read more of this post

Watch that Pilon — Pens LOSE 1-0 (OT)


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Tristan Jarry and Vitek Vanecek turned in a goaltenders clinic Tuesday night in Hershey.

Scoreless after three periods, the 39th shot off of a Bears shooter beats Tristan Jarry in overtime off of the stick of Garrett Pilon and Hershey wins 1-0.

A point gained on idle Providence. It’s a four point deficit to the fourth place Bruins. Each team has a dozen games left.

Wilkes-Barre had only 17 shots. Hershey did the same thing to Bridgeport last Saturday, holding the Sound Tigers to just 19 shots on goal and scoring five of their own.

Lines were…

Adam Johnson – Jarrett Burton – Jimmy Hayes
Sam Lafferty – Ryan Haggerty – Sam Miletic
Anthony Angello – Jake Lucchini – Joseph Cramarossa
Trevor Yates – Cam Brown – Linus Ölund

Ethan Prow – Kevin Czuczman
Jeff Taylor – Chris Summers
Matt Abt – Tim Erixon

Tristan Jarry – John Muse

Lineup Notes: The Cramarossa – Lucchini – Hayes line was broken up. Forward lines shuffled up off of that with Hayes up with Burton and Johnson and Angello with Lucchini and Cramarossa. Jeff Taylor went in for Macoy Erkamps on defense.

First Period: Largely uneventful but for an 11-4 Hershey shot advantage thanks to the only power play awarded in the period which Hershey was on the man advantage. Tristan Jarry looked great and any ills that you thought were bugging him after Sunday’s performance against the Marlies were a distant memory.

Second Period: Two more power plays for the Bears, two more fine kills by the Penguins. Tristan Jarry continued to excel. Pens had a good chance when a Bears defender fell down springing Ryan Haggerty but Vitek Vanecek made the stop.

Third Period: Both teams traded power play chances. The Penguins looked great on their first and only power play of the game but couldn’t get anything past Vanecek.

Overtime: Periscoped here. Mind the high angle, Hershey didn’t bother to activate the lower angle camera.

Here is the goal GIFed for you.

The Good: Penguins bottled up the high powered Bears offense up for 60 full minutes and the play of Tristan Jarry. If Wilkes-Barre does manage to make it into the playoffs, it will be on the back of Jarry who will virtually carry them there.

The Bad: Lack of a scorer in regulation. Pens were perfect defensively (didn’t allow a goal) perfect on special teams and their goaltender plays out of his mind. All the Penguins needed was one goal in regulation and the game, barring anything funny, was theirs.

Turning Point: Garrett Pilon’s seemingly harmless shot at 1:14 in overtime is the easy, obvious choice.

Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Syracuse beat Charlotte in overtime 2-1 on this otherwise busy for a Tuesday night.

Standings: Charlotte 90 — Bridgeport 81 — Hershey 77 — Providence 74 — Penguins 70 — Lehigh Valley 68 — Springfield 66 — Hartford 65

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Setting Up Wednesday: Providence is in Laval Wednesday against the Rocket. Laval doesn’t really have anything left to play for. You would like a Rocket win. Pens will get that game in hand back Sunday when they host Springfield. Ideally, the deficit at the end of this weekends action should be where it is currently or lower. Time will tell.

Video Highlights:

But for anything else breaking, check out the Power Rankings on Thursday.

Let’s Go Pens!