Chirps from Center Ice

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

Penguins / Checkers Tweet Feed


Follow along with tonight’s Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins game right here. Tweets will refresh in real time. Radio information here if you would like to listen to Nick Hart’s call. Postgame recap here on the blog will follow after the game action ends.

GAMEDAY: @ Charlotte 1/25

Who: Charlotte Checkers

Where: Bojangles’ Coliseum

When: 6:00 p.m.

Last Game / Last Meeting: Last night in Charlotte, the Penguins won 5-4. Cole Cassels figured into every single goal, scoring two and assisting on three others. David Warsofsky also had a big game, scoring a pair of goals and assisting on two others. Charlotte’s Eetu Luostarinen had a goal and an assist for the Checkers in the loss

Record: For WBS: 21-16-3-4 (49 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For CHA: 24-15-3-0 (51 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Corey Syvret / Jason Williams

Linesmen: Tyson Baker / Tim Lyons

Why You Should Care: Wilkes-Barer can, with help from out of town, get to fourth place in the Atlantic with a win tonight and tie the Checkers in points. But before you count points you don’t have, the Penguins need to take care of business again here against the Checkers. Don’t expect another five point night from Cole Cassels, but expect the Penguins to play a similar style to what they had going last night.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: That, “help from out of town” I was talking about earlier involves the Bridgeport Sound Tigers beating the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Next Five Games: vs. LV 1/31, vs. BRI 2/1, vs. BNG 2/5, vs. HER 2/7, vs. LV 2/8

Building Cassels in the Sky — Pens WIN 5-4


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When a player is traded to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, I usually start thinking of how I can use that players name in a pun in a headline for a postgame recap.

From January 4, the day that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins acquired Cole Cassels.

The Penguins win 5-4 in Charlotte Friday night and Cole Cassels figured into every single goal. Cassels had a pair for goals to go with three assists.

Other rejected headlines include, “Four-Sofsky” for David Warsofsky’s four point night (2-2)

All jokes aside, this was a gritty, greasy, messy win for the Penguins over the Charlotte Checkers. You take them how you get them but it’s the kind of win you look for out of a team battling for a playoff berth. With the influx of players from Pittsburgh down from the all-star break, you need to maximize points against a team you are chasing for said playoff berth. So far, so good.

Casey DeSmith opposed Anton Forsberg.


Lineup Notes: Friday morning, the Penguins assigned Matt Abt, Michael Kim and Christopher Brown to Wheeling. With the cadre of players sent down from Pittsburgh coupled with the fact that the Nailers have a boatload of home games in the next week or so, it made sense to get Abt, Kim and Brown back down to Wheeling for reps. Also, announced Thursday, Sam Miletic will replace Andrew Agozzino at the All-Star Classic later this weekend.

There was other news today around noon. Andreas Martinsen was placed on unconditional waivers for the purposes of contract termination. What it basically means is that Pittsburgh wants to shred his NHL contract so he can go to Europe. 24 games with Wilkes-Barre, a goal and two assists and takes up a vet spot. Thanks for the fish.

Current lineup wise, all the reinforcements were in, Jamie Devane and Andreas Martinsen were out and Chris Brown too, but he was sent to Wheeling. On defense, Zach Trotman returned from injury and, with Kevin Czuczman, replaced John Nyberg and Macoy Erkamps.

First Period: On a power play, Kevin Czuczman went to center to Anthony Angello. The pass never got there. Instead, a Checkers defender Steven Lorentz’s stick got in the way but deflected the puck into his net.

You take them any way you can get them.

Later, Cole Cassels finished off a two on one with Adam Johnson. It was all setup by a big save by Casey DeSmith on Lorentz that was setup by P-O Joseph falling over giving Lorentz and the Checkers a breakaway. Here it is:

Not a very good period by the Checkers Steven Lorentz there.

100th AHL point for Adam Johnson with that assist.

Second Period: You had a lot going on in this period.

First, David Warsofsky’s third attempt at a goal in one sequence goes in and the Penguins have a 3-0 lead.

But then Charlotte dug in and went to work.

Julien Gauthier was in front and collected a rebound off DeSmith and swept it past him on a power play that put the Checkers on the board.

Then Eetu Luostarinen with a tip in front. 3-2 Penguins.

Charlotte hit a post on a dangerous power play after their second goal, but the Penguins got out of that unscathed.

Charlotte continued to buzz and fire, Casey DeSmith had a ten bell save, but Thomas DiPauli lost his stick and Gustav Forsling scored to tie the game at three.

(Charlotte didn’t post a GIF here)

Hardly ideal from the Penguins perspective. They were getting run over and hadn’t had a significant scoring chance since the Warsofsky goal. Until…

On a power play, Warsofsky connects with a looooong pass to Cole Cassels who stays onside and breaks in to beat Forsberg that gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead.

Big goal. Big, big goal for the Penguins who crack Charlotte’s power play.

Third Period: Hit the drop!

:08 in, Sam Lafferty finishes off a power play goal, the Penguins third of the night, to give the Penguins a 5-3 lead.

But Charlotte would respond in kind with another power play of their own when Dave Gust would punch in a goal that brought the Checkers within one again.

Wilkes-Barre would find itself in penalty trouble off of the whistle from referee Corey Syvret, who bagged Andrew Agozzino for soft hook and then P-O Joseph for an even softer hook. The Penguins would navigate the rough waters fine, Chase Berger would block three shots in the kill and then with the time dwindling, Charlotte pulled their goaltender but never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Eetu Luostarinen (goal, assist) 2) Cole Cassels (two goals, three assists) 1) David Warsofsky (two goals, two assists)

The Good: They stepped up and took one from the defending champs. Noted in the lede, it wasn’t pretty, but necessary.

The Bad: Penalty kill wasn’t great, I didn’t like what I saw late from the Joseph – Lizotte pairing, but they got the two points.

Turning Point: I am going to go with that kill late when the Checkers were up two men. They score there and who knows what ends up with this one.

Around the Division: Providence beats Lehigh Valley 4-3….Hershey thumps Springfield 5-2….Hartford beats Bridgeport 4-1.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 57 — Providence 54 — Charlotte 51 — Springfield 50 — Penguins 49 — Lehigh Valley 42 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose in overtime at home to Cincinnati 3-2. Matt Abt had an assist and was a +2.

Video Highlights: 

They rematch Saturday at 6, so that means the Gameday setup is here at 2 p.m. If things break the right way, Wilkes-Barre can tie the Checkers in points and depending on other out of town scores, could be a fourth place team at the break.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Charlotte 1/24

Who: Charlotte Checkers

Where: Bojangles’ Coliseum

When: 7:00 p.m.

Last Game: Tuesday in San Antonio, Jordy Bellerive scored an overtime game winner to get the Penguins a sweep over the Rampage. For Charlotte, the Checkers were in action on Sunday at home against Toronto and won 7-3. Morgan Geekie had two goals and an assist.

Last Meeting: January 8 in Wilkes-Barre, the Checkers won 6-3. Steven Lorentz had a pair of goals and an assist in the win. Anthony Angello and Adam Johnson had a goal and and assist each.

Record: For WBS: 20-16-3-4 (47 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For CHA: 24-14-3-0 (51 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Corey Syvret / Jason Williams

Linesmen: Tyson Baker / Terry Wicklum

Why You Should Care: Wilkes-Barre have a full compliment of players for this important weekend series against Charlotte. Sam Lafferty, all star Andrew Agozzino and Kevin Czuczman are back from Pittsburgh. If the Penguins can’t beat Charlotte with this lineup, then the Penguins probably are going to struggle to get to the fourth place line the remainder of the season if these players get recalled when Pittsburgh returns from bye. We aren’t in must win territory yet, but it’s definitely, “it would be nice to win” territory.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Belleville visits Utica in a battle fo North Division titans.

Next Five Games: @ CHA 1/25, vs. LV 1/31, vs. BRI 2/1, vs. BNG 2/5, vs. HER 2/7

AHL Power Rankings: End of January 2020

So we are at the All-Star break scheduled for this weekend in Ontario, California. You’d be surprised how many people confuse the Ontario Reign and think they are located in Canada, when they are really located in Southern California.

Anyway, there hasn’t been any change to the top team this week as the Milwaukee Admirals are making it look easy. They are a win away from thirty, and still haven’t lost ten. Odds on favorite for a Calder Cup? That’s for you to decide.

Belleville has finally gotten the love from the Politburo they deserve and are the number two team. Did we get a Calder Cup preview when the Senators visited the Admirals this past Tuesday?

Tucson has hit a rough stretch by their high standards and because we don’t do ties here, Hartford and Hershey round out the top five but are at this point two identical teams which lead their division.

Click through if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.


Last Games: RFD 0 @ MIL 2, RFD 1 @ MIL 2 (OT), MIL 4 @ RFD 1, CHI 2 @ MIL 3 (SO), MIL 1 @ CHI 4, BEL 1 @ MIL 2
The runaway favorite for the Calder Cup? Can we make this distinction in January? It worked last year with Charlotte, history could repeat itself again.


Next Games: vs. RFD 1/24, @ RFD 1/25, @ CHI 1/31, @ RFD 2/1, @ GR 2/5
Record: 29-8-4-2


Last Games: BEL 5 @ ROC 1, BEL 4 @ UTI 0, BEL 5 @ MB 3, BEL 2 @ MB 3 (OT), BEL 4 @ GR 3 (SO), BEL 3 @ RFD 0, BEL 1 @ MIL 2
This Belleville Senators team is criminally underrated and shouldn’t be. They are a loaded, dangerous team loaded with a hell of a coach. It’s going to be fun to watch them battle with Utica, who they see twice before the All-Star break, for the division lead.


Next Games: @ UTI 1/24, vs. UTI 1/25, @ LAV 1/31, @ LAV 2/1, @ TOR 2/4
Record: 25-14-3-1


Last Games: TUC 1 @ COL 5, TUC 4 @ COL 2, TUC 1 @ SD 4, TUC 2 @ ONT 1 (OT), TUC 3 @ SD 1
Some hiccups here, but in a division where you play 68 games those are highlighted more. Make no mistake this Tucson team is still very good.


Next Games: vs. BAK 1/24, vs. BAK 1/25, vs. COL 1/31, vs. COL 2/1, @ BAK 2/5
Record: 28-9-1-0


Last Games: CHA 3 @ HFD 6, HFD 0 @ WBS 3, HFD 5 @ UTI 6 (OT), HFD 3 @ UTI 6, HFD 4 @ HER 5 (OT)
Wolf Pack remain at the top of the Atlantic for now and they keep piling points up. It hasn’t been all that bad for Hartford.


Next Games: vs. BRI 1/24, vs. LV 1/25, vs. SPR 1/31, @ SPR 2/1, vs. SPR 2/5
Record: 23-10-4-5


Last Games: HER 2 @ WBS 1 (SO), CLE 2 @ HER 4, HER 1 @ CHA 4, HER 4 @ CHA 5, HFD 4 @ HER 5 (OT), ROC 1 @ HER 4, HER 2 @ SPR 5
Bears seem to have cooled from their run from a few weeks ago, just 6-4 in the last ten. Rematch in Springfield Friday then head to Providence before the break. Are tied with Hartford for division lead but could have company in the form of either Charlotte or Providence quick.


Next Games: @ SPR 1/24, @ PRO 1/25, @ BRI 1/31, vs. LV 2/1
Record: 25-14-2-3

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This Tuesday in Texas — Pens WIN 3-2 (OT)


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There is a saying that, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

For Jordy Bellerive, it must be true, he’s scoring goals and the net must look twice the size for the Penguins rookie.

A 3-2 overtime win for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Tuesday night with the goal scored by, who else, Jordy Bellerive that ended the game. Bellerive’s trip through San Antonio this past weekend saw him score two goals and the shootout game winner on Saturday and an overtime game winner Tuesday.

He may not want to board that flight to Charlotte Wednesday, but he will have to.

The Penguins draw to a point of idle and fifth place Springfield and three points back of fourth place Providence for the final playoff spot. A huge meeting with third place Charlotte, who the Penguins are just four points behind, looms this weekend.

Casey DeSmith opposed Ville Husso in a rematch from Saturday.


Lineup Notes: Joseph Blandisi was recalled Monday, so Christopher Brown slotted in for him at center, the forward lines were jumbled up, Jordy Bellerive found himself on the second line, up from the fourth, based off of his performance on Saturday.

Dustin Tokarski was injured in warmups Saturday with what Head Coach Mike Vellucci told Nick Hart was a hand injury. He’s still with the team, practiced Monday and took part of Morning skate. No timetable was given, but I’ll point out that if it were bad, he would have been sent back to Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh if it was.

On defense, the same pairings from Saturday. San Antonio didn’t post lines.

First Period: Largely uneventful period. Andreas Martinsen was the only Penguin forward with a shot on goal, Wilkes-Barre only managed five to the Rampage’s ten.

Klim Kostin deflected a Joey LaLeggia shot about halfway through that gave the Rampage a 1-0 lead.

Penguins killed the only penalty called in the period. Like I said, largely uneventful.

Second Period: Largely eventful period. The Penguins outshot the Rampage 16-4 in the period and got a goal when Jon Lizotte connected with Anthony Angello on this tie setup that tied the game at one.

Ville Husso was forced into some great saves, John Nyberg had one on a shot through traffic, Husso got help from his post when Chase Berger fizzed one past and Jordy Bellerive had a bid go off of the post early on in a two on one.

Third Period: Penguins navigated through back to back penalties easily, then Kevin Roy tipped in a John Nyberg shot that gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

I liked what I saw from John Nyberg tonight, doing all the little things right.

Good, subtle keep in by David Warsofky there at the start of the video that kept play onside. The scoring play doesn’t happen without it.

Wilkes-Barre had one more penalty to kill and did so, but just as Husso came off for an extra attacker, San Antonio indeed found the equalizer on this sequence with ex-Penguin Derrick Pouliot.

Tipped in by Nathan Walker that sent us to…

Overtime: They went back and forth s they often do with all that open ice. It was a sequence with Thomas DiPauli that led to the Bellerive goal. He was tangled up with Husso, got a puck at the neutral zone and put a shot on he didn’t get all of, followed his shot and caused enough interference (legal) on Husso that Bellerive was there for the goal and the finish.

Three Stars: 3) Anthony Angello (goal) Kevin Roy (goal) 1) Jordy Bellerive (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Any time you get four points at an opponent, you take it and run. Don’t worry about the games finishing past regulation, giving points to a Western Conference opponent is meaningless for the Penguins.

The Bad: I still can’t figure out of it was Penguins good or San Antonio bad (they are last place in a competitive Central) but will likely have that answer this weekend when Mike Vellucci visits his old stomping grounds in Charlotte this weekend.

Turning Point: How can you not go with the Bellerive overtime game winner in this situation? These are big points that could be remembered as the Penguins are shaping up to be in a race with three, maybe four with Lehigh Valley’s sudden resurgence, teams for a playoff spot come April.

Around the Division: They all watched us. It’s a Tuesday, the Atlantic Division just doesn’t play on a Tuesday.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 55 — Charlotte 51 — Providence 50 — Springfield 48 — Penguins 47 — Lehigh Valley 41 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off, it’s the ECHL All-Star break.

Video Highlights: Coal Street tweeted Saturday’s highlights Monday morning. I hope they don’t wait till Thursday for these. Anyway, if I see them and can work an edit in I will.

I would expect, with Pittsburgh on bye for the next ten days, that you will see Joseph Blandisi and Andrew Agozzino get returned to Wilkes-Barre with Kevin Czuczman and possibly Sam Lafferty. EDIT: They didn’t wait long, check out this time stamp:

AHL Power Rankings will be here Thursday at 11 and then the Gameday setup for the two game set in Charlotte will be here Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ San Antonio 1/21

Who: San Antonio Rampage

Where: AT&T Center

When: 8:00 p.m.

Last Game / Last Meeting: Saturday night in San Antonio, the Penguins won in a shootout 4-3. Jordy Bellerive had a pair of goals in regulation and had the shootout game winner. Jake Walman went goal for goal with Bellerive, scoring a pair of goals of his own for the Rampage.

Record: For WBS: 19-16-3-4 (45 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For SA: 14-17-5-5 (38 pts., 8th place Central Division)

Referees: Stephen Reneau / Alex Ross

Linesmen: Fred Hudy / Carl Sasyn

Why You Should Care: Wilkes-Barre can sweep the Rampage in San Antonio tonight with some minor adjustments. The Rampage can equally split the series with the Penguins with the same adjustments. Which coach out coaches the other?

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Nothing going on in the division tonight, so it’s Belleville visiting Milwaukee in a North / Central matchup.

Next Five Games: @ CHA 1/24, @ CHA 1/25, vs. LV 1/31, vs. BRI 2/1, vs. BNG 2/5