Chirps from Center Ice

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

Wednesday Notes 12/7

Bunch of stuff to get to for a Wednesday so let’s dive in.

On Tuesday, the format for the AHL All-Star classic was revealed. 

Slight alterations from last year, which was 4-on-4 for 4:30 followed by 3-on-3. Now, its just straight up 3-on-3 for 10 minutes. That’s going to be madness.

Later Tuesday, the Wheeling Nailers received goaltender Sean Maguire and traded goaltender J.P. Anderson to the Adirondack Thunder. Maguire has been injured since the start of the season, so he finally can get to Wheeling and show the brass down there what he can do. The Nailers will go with Doug Carr and Maguire as their tandem in goal. Trading Anderson to a division rival, who happens to lead said division, doesn’t make any sense to me but there are roster limits in the ECHL so Wheeling needed to find a home for Anderson to make room for Maguire.

Pittsburgh confirmed the Maguire news this morning along with Teddy Blueger being “officially” re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre. Blueger had been practicing on Coal Street.

Seth with news on Carter Rowney’s status…

Things are looking bad, right? Wrong.

For Guentzel, after a blazing start, he disappeared from the lineup and has been a healthy scratch. His NHL time will come, but sitting in a press box watching, vs. on the ice playing, does nothing for his continued development.

For Pouliot, I see this as a crossroads for the defenseman. He hasn’t really lived up to the hype that came with him when he was drafted so far. He has had flashes of brilliance, but when it came down to making a decision on who to send back to the AHL between he and Steve Oleksy, the brass chose Pouliot. Is it necessarily a knock against Pouliot? No. I don’t believe so. How he takes another reassignment to the AHL this time will most likely define his remaining professional hockey career.

Head Coach Mike Sullivan’s thought process on today’s reassignments…

You are caught up for now. Short of a scoopful of beneficial information, the next blog update will come at 3 p.m. Friday for the Gameday setup for the matchup with the Hershey Bears.

Wheeling Wrap 12/6

It’s Tuesday, so another edition of the Weekly Wheeling Wrap is due, where I take a look back at the week that was for the Penguins ECHL affiliate. the Wheeling Nailers.

The Nailers started the week with a 4-2 setback to the Reading Royals for what was, essentially at the time, third place in the North Division. Cody Wydo scored a pair of goals which was the Nailers only offense of the contest. The Nailers carried a 2-1 lead heading to the third period when the Royals struck three times in the span of about seven minutes. J.P. Anderson took the loss, stopping just 27 of 31 shots.

The Nailers then returned home for a weekend pair against the Utah Grizzlies of the Western Conference. The Nailers would win a nail biter 5-4. Cody Wydo’s goal at 18:34 of the third period gave Wheeling a 5-3 lead, but Util responded with a six-on-five goal with Ryan McKay vacated from his crease, but the Nailers were able to hang on. Derek Army scored two goals, Michael Webster had two assists. Utah struck twice on the power play. Doug Carr stopped 34 of 38 shots.

Saturday morning, Derek Army was signed to a PTO by the AHL Milwaukee Admirals.

In the rematch on Saturday night, the Nailers would cruise to a 4-1 win over the Grizzlies. Wheeling struck early in the first and second periods. Brett Stern scored just :42 into the first period, followed by Ross McMullan scoring :38 into the second period. Utah’s Tim Daly scored in the third period to bust up Doug Carr’s shutout bid. Bot teams struck once on the power play.

Wheeling enters the first full week of December with a 11-6-2-0 record, good for 24 points and fourth place in the North Division.

The Nailers take on the Brampton Beast for a pair of games in Brampton, Ontario this weekend, beginning Friday.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 8

Week 8 here at the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings and unlike last week, there isn’t much movement at the top.

We also wouldn’t say that there is a clear, undisputed number one team either. That’s because the top two teams from last week are the same top two teams this week.

I am not going to give it all away in the lede here, so hop through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see the list this week.

Read more of this post

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

   WBS       @       button_15stj200

 2                                       3

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!

GAMEDAY: @ St. John’s 12/4

@     stj15_200

Away Game: 11

AHL Game: 309

Who: St. John’s IceCaps

Where: Mile One Centre

When: 4:00 p.m. Newfoundland time, 2:30 p.m. Wilkes-Barre time.

Media Kit

Last Game / Last Meeting: Last night in St. John’s, the Penguins won 6-2. Kevin Porter had a goal and two assists, Tom Kostopoulos had three assists as the Penguins struck three times on the power play to win. Sven Andrighetto assisted on both IceCaps goals.

Record: For WBS: 14-4-2-0 (30 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For STJ: 11-11-1-0 (23 pts., 4th place North Division)

Why you should care: Rematch on The Rock for these two teams. You should see some shuffling at forward and on defense for the Penguins and expect Casey DeSmith to get the nod today for Wilkes-Barre. The IceCaps started strong in the first period then faded after the Pens struck on the power play late. St. John’s is hard to beat twice at home.

Referee(s): Troy Murray / Andrew Wilk

Linesmen: Sheldon Keough / Brian Lambert

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: wbspenguins / stjohnsicecaps

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky // @telyrobinshort / @telybrendan

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS  and @_NickHart / For STJ: Brian Rodgers

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For St. John’s: Listen Live

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Lehigh Valley travels to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers who are on a tear as of recent and are a very strong, underrated team.

Next Five Games: HER 12/9, HER 12/10, @ BRI 12/11, @ HFD 12/14, RCH 12/16

In St. John’s, You Must Have a Porter — Pens WIN 6-2

   WBS       @       button_15stj200

 6                                       2

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have a roster in a bit of flux right now. So in times of need, you need to rely on the veteran players that remain.

Those players today were Kevin Porter and Tom Kostopoulos.

A goal and two assists by Porter and three assists for Kostopoulos, and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win this game 6-2 up on The Rock this afternoon / evening.

Tristan Jarry opposed Charles Lindgren.

News of the day before the game started was the re-assignment of Tom Sestito to Wilkes-Barre and the announcement that Thomas DiPauli had back surgery and is out for the next 10-12 weeks.

Couple things on that news. First, props to Coal Street for disclosing the injury details and the length of time that DiPauli will be out for. Assuming he had the surgery this week, DiPauli’s timetable will be the end of March, barring a setback. Second, it looks like with Chris Kunitz coming off of injured reserve that Jake Guentzel, despite being a scratch in the last Pittsburgh game, will be up for longer than we thought.

Lines were…

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

Stuart Percy – Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
David Warsofsky – Tim Erixon

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: Danny Kristo and Sahir Gill jumped back into the lineup for the injured Thomas DiPauli and the healthy Patrick McGrath. Stuart Percy and Tim Erixon were in on the blue line for Barry Goers and Lukas Bengtsson.

First Period: St. John’s dominated the period with a lot of zone time and a bevy of shots, but Tristan Jarry turned them all aside. A bit of puck luck for Jarry as two separate IceCaps players fanned on wide open nets. But then the Penguins got a late power play and it was Danny Kristo scoring his first goal of the season and first with the Penguins on this nice screen by Oskar Sundqvist parked in front…

On that play, Chad Ruhwedel picked up his 100th AHL point.

Second Period: Wilkes-Barre would extend the lead by two with a pair of power play, yes, you read power play, goals.

They both came on a five on three :19 apart. First, Kevin Porter…

Porter dug the puck out of his skates, patiently waited for the players to fall like dominoes, and roof it over all of the humanity.

Then on the same power play, now five on four, Dominik Simon scored this nice backhanded goal as Lindgren just let a puck sit out in prime real estate…

The tweet that you just read from the Penguins was true, the Penguins were 3-for-4 on the power play today. This after going 1-for-28 coming in.

But there was a lot of time left to play in the period and referees Troy Murray and Andrew Will put the IceCaps on a five on three power play and Chris Terry hammered one in far post on a one timer to put the IceCaps on the board.

Wilkes-Barre / Scranton would re-establish the three goal lead on a nice deflection goal by Jean-Sebastien Dea in the final minute of the period…

Team leading seventh goal by Dea there and a great pass by Dominik Simon to set it all up. Jarry’s shutout streak ends at 95:28.

Third Period: Tim Erixon made it a four goal lead for the Penguins with his first goal of the season…

Dan Audette scored for the IceCaps that made it 5-2 when the Penguins blew a defensive assignment. Audette was parked right in front of the net and swept the puck past Jarry. After a referee review on account of a possible kick, the goal stood.

Josh Archibald scored a pretty goal as he flipped the puck over Lindgren that made it 6-2 Wilkes-Barre. Coal Street didn’t put a GIF out on that one, so just use your imagination.

Three Stars: 3) Sven Andrighetto (two assists, -1) 2) Kevin Porter (goal, two assists, even) and 1) Tristan Jarry (31 saves on 33 shots)

Notes: Oskar Sundqvist’s six game road point streak comes to an end as he was unable to find the scoresheet today.

Video highlights…

Around the Division: Every team in the Atlantic picked up at least a point tonight. Starting in Hershey, the Bears lose in overtime 3-2 to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Bears took three out of a possible four points out of the miniseries with the Phantoms this weekend…Bridgeport stays hot with a 4-0 shutout win over the sorry Binghamton Senators. It’s the first shutout of the season for the Sound Tigers….Springfield beats Providence 3-2 in overtime. The Thunderbirds came back from a 2-1 deficit to win…The Hartford Wolf Pack beat the Toronto Marlies in the 6ix 3-2 this afternoon.

Standings: Penguins (.750 percentage points) — Bridgeport (.714) — Lehigh Valley (.690) — Hershey (.690) — Providence (.548) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.425)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers sweep the Utah Grizzlies with a 4-1 win Saturday. Doug Carr stopped 27 of 28. I’ll have more on the Nailers week that was Tuesday in the Wheeling Wrap.

Penguins and IceCaps rematch again Sunday from St. John’s again at 2:30 Wilkes-Barre time. Gameday setup will hit the blog Sunday morning at 10:30.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ St. John’s 12/3

@     stj15_200

Away Game: 10

AHL Game: 298

Who: St. John’s IceCaps

Where: Mile One Centre

When: 4:00 p.m. Newfoundland time, 2:30 p.m. Wilkes-Barre time.

Media Kit

Last Game: Last Saturday at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Penguins picked up their first shutout of the season with a 1-0 win. Tristan Jarry stopped all 24 shots faced and J.S. Dea scored the only goal for the Penguins in the win. For St. John’s, the IceCaps hosted the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday and won 3-2 in a shootout. Markus Eisenschmid had a goal and an assist and Yann Danis stopped everything in the shootout round.

Record: For WBS: 13-4-2-0 (28 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division) — For STJ: 11-10-1-0 (23 pts., 4th place North Division)

Why you should care: Should be a good weekend tilt. IceCaps have been floundering around as a would be contender in the North Division. This is going to be a great test for them as well as the Penguins who should be well rested after not playing for an entire week.

Referee(s): Troy Murray / Andrew Wilk

Linesmen: Darryl Butt / Jim Vail

Twitter: @wbspenguins / @WBSGameDay // @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: wbspenguins / stjohnsicecaps

Beat Writers: @CVSethLakso / @TLTomVenesky // @telyrobinshort / @telybrendan

Broadcasters: For WBS: Mike O’Brien @MikeOBrienWBS  and @_NickHart / For STJ: Brian Rodgers

Fan Bloggers: @nafsnep 

Radio: For WBS: WILK Newsradio / For St. John’s: Listen Live

Television: AHL Live

Other Game to Watch: Hershey beat Lehigh Valley last night in Allentown 4-3. The Phantoms are looking for revenge tonight in Hershey when they take on the Bears.

Next Five Games: @ STJ 12/4, HER 12/9, HER 12/10, @ BRI 12/11, @ HFD 12/14