Chirps from Center Ice

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

Surrounded by Aho’s — Pens LOSE 3-2 (OT)


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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers came into the game tonight on a 0-4-0-1 streak.

They lost starting goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis to a non-contact lower body injury in the second period and Christopher Gibson, who let five goals in last night in a losing effort in Springfield, was called into duty.

Gibson and the Sound Tigers rally from a 1-0 deficit to beat the Penguins 3-2 in overtime off of a power play goal by Sebastian Aho.

Fun game otherwise, with two teams looking evenly matched in the game, but a stinger for Pens fans knowing the history of recent where Wilkes-Barre came in 3-6-1-0 in their last ten games.

Casey DeSmith opposed the aforementioned Kristers Gudlevskis

Lines were…

Zach Aston-Reese — Greg McKegg — Ryan Haggerty
Garrett Wilson – Colin Smith – Daniel Sprong
Christian Thomas – J-S Dea – Patrick McGrath
Adam Johnson – Teddy Blueger – Thomas DiPauli

Jarred Tinordi – Zach Trotman
Andrey Pedan – Chris Summers
Kevin Spinnozi – Frank Corrado

Casey DeSmith – Sean Maguire

Lineup Notes: Earlier in the day, Kevin Spinozzi was signed by the Penguins to an AHL contract for the remainder of the season with his PTO expiring this weekend. The Pens could have re-signed Spinozzi to another 25 game tryout agreement, but rather opted for the standard player contract. Jarred Tinordi returned from injury and replaced Ethan Prow and Patrick McGrath swapped up front with Gage Quinney.

Personally, I think Prow would have been taken out of the  lineup regardless, since Tinordi was ready to return, so we will have to watch this week of practice report to get an update on Ethan.

First Period: Pens came out of the period with a 1-0 lead on a Greg McKegg wraparound goal and traded power plays with the Sound Tigers. Last night in Hartford, solo referee Corey Syvret didn’t call a single penalty on the Wolf Pack thus not allowing the Penguins a power play opportunity. Tonight, referee Stephen Reneau was the only man in orange stripes tonight and missed a slash on Garrett Wilson and then an interference call on Zach Trotman.  So when you don’t have the officials out there policing play, you leave it to the players.

That’s my only gripe in the period. But it’s a double edged sword. I complain when  there are 57 penalties in a period and complain when there aren’t enough.

Oh, here’s the McKegg goal…

Second Period: Story of this period was the goaltenders.  Kristers Gudlevskis left the game with a lower body injury for the Sound Tigers. Enter Christoper Gibson, who let in five goals Friday in Springfield and was pulled. Gibson nailed things down for the Sound Tigers and denied Christian Thomas and Colin Smith on Grade A chances.

Casey DeSmith was dialed in, making some good saves of his own, including one on John Stevens in the slot and then another on Stephen Gionta.

Bridgeport finally beat DeSmith on a shot by Devon Toews, through a heavy screen that tied the game at one.

Third Period: Wilkes-Barre has been bitten by slow starts which have doomed them. Charlotte comes to mind. Springfield too. Well, in the third period, the Penguin didn’t put a lot of shots on Gudlevskis and kept the Sound Tigers in the game.

Scott Eansor beats Casey DeSmith on a power play when an initial shot was stopped by the Penguins netminder where Eansor swooped in and backhanded it in to give the Sound Tigers the lead with 7:14 to play in the period.

But then Zach Aston-Reese tied the game when Christian Thomas led a rush, dropped a pass to Aston-Reese, then was tripped up by two Sound Tigers. In the commotion, Aston-Reese snapped off a quick shot that beat Gibson and tied the game.

But then Frank Corrado would be called for boarding with a minute left to play in regulation, putting the Sound Tigers on the power play for the rest of regulation and then…

Overtime: Shane Prince puts a shot on goal that is partially blocked, then hits Sebastian Aho’s leg and then into the net to win it for the Sound Tigers just :26 into overtime…

Around the Division: At the time this post went live on the blog, the boxscores on the AHL site were all frozen in time. I can tell you, based off of what I read on Twitter that Providence beat Hershey 6-2, Lehigh Valley ends the Syracuse Crunch 10 game win streak with a 4-2 win, the Charlotte Checkers beat the Laval Rocket 3-1 and Springfield beats Hartford 2-1 in a shootout.

Standings: Providence will remain first, Charlotte with remain second, Lehigh Valley will bump to third, Pens will drop to fourth, Bridgeport will stay fifth, Hartford and Hershey will flip fifth and sixth respectively and Springfield will stay in last. I’m not messing with math at this late hour. Check back in for a later edit if you care to.

Wheeling Update: Wheeling beats Reading 4-2 to split the weekend series with the Royals. Troy Josephs, Reid Gardiner, Kevin Schulze and Cody Wydo scored for the Nailers. Will King picked up the win for Wheeling.

If Bridgeport puts out a highlight package that I see and can edit in, I will do so here.

Pend are off Sunday. AHL Power Rankings hit the blog Monday at 4. Check us out then. Wilkes-Barre is back in action this Friday at home agains the Binghamton Devils.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Bridgeport 12/16


Who: Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Where: Webster Bank Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Hartford, the Pens were smoked 7-3. Daniel SProng, Teddy Blueger and Thomas DiPauli were the goal scorers. For Bridgeport, the Sound Tigers were in Springfield last night and lost 5-4. Parker Wotherspoon had two goals. Recently reassigned Josh Ho-Sang had an assist.

Last Meeting: October 28 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens won 5-2. Ryan Haggerty had two goals, Zach Aston-Reese had two assists.

Record: For WBS: 15-8-1-1 (32 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division) // For BRI: 12-11-1-1 (26 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Referee(s): Stephen Reneau

Linesmen: Travis Gawryletz / John Kirakos

Why You Should Care: Penguins need to shake off that 7-3 throttling the Wolf Pack threw at them last night with a better effort here in Bridgeport tonight. Bridgeport as well will be looking at getting the stink off of them by letting Springfield sneak past them so it should be a good start between these two teams tonight.

Other Game to Watch: Providence revisits Hershey after seeing their eight game losing streak come to an end last night in Syracuse. The Bears were idle Friday.

Next Five Games: BNG 12/22, LV 12/23, LV 12/27, HFD 12/29, @ HER 12/30

Wolf Bitten — Pens LOSE 7-3


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I am not going to call this game an anomaly for the Hartford Wolf Pack. If you follow and read my Weekly AHL Power Rankings, you know that Hartford is currently punching above its weight and have been winning a lot more than they have been losing of recent.

So for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, a team that is punching under it’s weight and the exact opposite of the Wolf Pack right now, a tough game was going to be expected tonight.

What I wasn’t expecting was a blowout and a systematic breakdown of everything that comes with this team.

You will see as you read the recap here, but the Penguins would get caught in a lapses that had them in a 2-1 hole at the end of the first, then Hartford blew the game wide open in a span of 2:48 to open the second period. Couple this with Wilkes-Barre not getting a single power play awarded by referee Corey Syvret and the apparent loss of Ethan Prow to an injury suffered in the first period and the result is a 7-3 Wolf Pack throttling.

Casey DeSmith opposed Marek Mazanek.

Lines were…

Christian Thomas – J-S Dea – Colin Smith
Zach Aston-Reese — Greg McKegg — Ryan Haggerty
Garrett Wilson – Gage Quinney – Daniel Sprong
Adam Johnson – Teddy Blueger – Thomas Di Pauli

Andrey Pedan – Zach Trotman
Chris Summers – Ethan Prow
Kevin Spinnozi – Frank Corrado

Casey DeSmith – Sean Maguire

Lineup Notes: One change from Wednesday, Adam Johnson in for Patrick McGrath.

First Period: Pens caught in lapses that bit them hard in the first period by Hartford. Ryan Graves scored on a rush out of a media break that game the Wolf Pack a 1-0 lead.

Thomas DiPauli got the goal right back to tie the game at one on this nice goal driving to the net while the sides were skating 4-on-4.

Kevin Spinozzi would pick up the secondary assist on that goal, his first in the AHL. His PTO expires this weekend.

But Hartford would get the lead right back when Scott Kosmachuk scored to make it 2-1 Wolf Pack.

It was the same start that the Penguins had Wednesday at home against Springfield. Only this time, their opponent continued to run away from them unlike the Thunderbirds midweek.

Second Period: Three goals in 2:48 by the Wolf Pack blew the doors wide open for the home team.

John Gilmour at 1:05. Pens had a bad line change here….

Hartford would strike on a power play goal by Gilmour then :16 later a goal from Gabriel Fontaine. Here they are in one clip…

After the fourth goal, Sean Maguire relieved Casey DeSmith. On the fifth goal, Maguire stopped the initial shot but the rebound got by him.

Teddy Blueger would play a puck nicely off of the back wall and banked his offering off of Mazanec during a delayed penalty call against the Wolf Pack that pulled the Penguins back to within three.

Despite outshooting the opponent 28-19, the Penguins trailed by three heading into the…

Third Period: Penguins can’t clear then Gabriel Fontaine scores on a shot that may have deflected off of a Penguin on the way in past Maguire that made it 6-2.

1:11 later, Anthony DeAngelo scored to make it 7-2.

Daniel Sprong scored from the slot that made it 7-3…

…but the Penguins couldn’t muster any more offense and that was all.

Three Stars: 3) Scott Kosmachuk (goal, two assists, +2) 2) Gabriel Fontaine (two goals, +2) and 1) John Gilmour (two goals, assist, +1)

Around the Division: Providence, the division leader, also lost, their eight game winning streak comes to a close in Syracuse 5-3. The Crunch have won 10 straight…Springfield beat Bridgeport 5-4. Lehigh Valley, Charlotte and Hershey were off.

Standings: Providence (.692 percentage points) — Charlotte (.648) — Penguins (.640) — Lehigh Valley (.625) — Bridgeport (.520) — Hershey (.482) — Hartford (.482) — Springfield (.383)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lost 4-0 in Reading tonight.

I don’t know if Hartford will do a highlight package. If I see one, I will edit one in, you probably wouldn’t watch anyway and I can’t blame you. I know I probably won’t.

Pens will bus down to Bridgeport for a 7 p.m. Saturday start. Gameday setup will hit the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Hartford 12/15


Who: Hartford Wolf Pack

Where: XL Center

When: 7:15 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday at home against Springfield, the Penguins scored five unanswered goals and beat the Thunderbirds 6-3. Daniel Sprong had two goals and Patrick McGrath had his first home goal of his career via empty net. For Hartford, the Wolf Pack hosted those same Thunderbirds and won 5-3. Vinni Lettieri had two goals and an assist and was named first star of the game.

Record: For WBS: 15-7-1-1 (32 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division) // For HFD: 10-12-3-2 (25 pts., 7th place Atlantic Division)

Referee(s): Corey Syvret

Linesmen: Mike Baker / Brent Colby

Why You Should Care: Pens start a two game weekend up in Connecticut against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Like Wednesday, the Pens will need to take the Wolf Pack seriously, despite their record and place in the division if they want to have success in Hartford tonight.

Other Game to Watch: Grand Rapids hosts Chicago in a battle of two North Division teams that should be contending but are not right now due to dangerously slow starts.

Next Five Games: @ BRI 12/16, BNG 12/22, LV 12/23, LV 12/27, HFD 12/29

A Lesson in Chain of Command — Pens WIN 6-3


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Tonight was a tale of a good team beating a not too good team.

After falling behind 3-1 which was three consecutive goals for the opponent, the better team battled back tonight. Pens win this one 6-3 over Springfield.

Work night veteran option on the lines tonight. They were:


Lineup Notes: Josh Archibald was recalled after his rehab stint and Tom Sestito was out, so Ryan Haggerty and Gage Quinney swapped in.

First Period: Another good start by the Penguins who established a lot of offensive zone time which later paid off by this goal from Andrey Pedan on an absolute snipe:

Nice backhand pass from Ryan Haggerty to find Pedan there all alone in the slot for the goal.

Then, the Penguins let off and in a span of 1:29, the Thunderbirds scored twice.

A shot by Max Fortunus deflected off of a Penguin and past DeSmith to put the Thunderbirds on the board.

Then Maxim Mamin scored in close and high and tight on DeSmith to push Springfield ahead 2-1 heading into the…

Second Period: It was appearing that young goaltender Samuel Montembeault was dialing in and working on a upset. He had the run support coming into the period, and just denied the Penguins a bunch of times on their power play.

He got even more run support when Chase Balisy shot a puck that deflected off of a Penguins defenseman skate and into the net.

If you are keeping score, that’s two defected off of a teammate goals that Casey DeSmith had given up to this point.

Penguins could have tucked their tails in here, but the two goal deficit seemed to anger them.

They re-established offensive zone time and got a rebound goal from ex-Thunderbird Greg McKegg that pulled the Penguins to within one.

About two and a half minutes later, seconds after a power play expired just like the McKegg goal, Daniel Sprong from the far dot zipped in a one timer that went so fast in and out of the goal if you blinked you missed it.

Pens had battled back, stuck to the game plan if you want to call it, and tied the game at three heading into the….

Third Period: Pens came in on a 2-on-1 with Garrett Wilson and Daniel Sprong and Sprong scored his second of the night that pushed the Penguins ahead 4-3. He scooped up the loose puck and put it in.

Pens made it 5-3 when Ryan Haggerty scored to make it a two goal lead on a dart. A nice shift and o-zone time by Pedan and Aston-Reese set this goal up and for Aston-Reese it was his third assist of the game.

Patrick McGrath hit an empty net for his first goal of the season and first in front of the home crowd that made it 6-3.

Three Stars: 3) Zach Aston Reese (three assists, +3) 2) Andrey Pedan (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Daniel Sprong (two goals, +1)

Around the Division: Providence shuts out Hershey 3-0. Charlotte beats Lehigh Valley 5-2. Connecticut (Hartford and Bridgeport) had the night off.

Standings: Providence (.720 percentage points) — Penguins (.667) — Charlotte (.648) — Lehigh Valley (.625) — Bridgeport (.542) — Hershey (.482) — Hartford (.463) — Springfield (.362)

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

If Coal Street adds a video highlight package later I will edit it in this space.

Pens hit the road for a pair of games in Connecticut against the Hartford Wolf Pack Friday and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday. But for any news Thursday, I’ll have the Gameday setup for you here Friday at 3 for the game against the Wolf Pack.

GAMEDAY: vs. Springfield 12/13


Who: Springfield Thunderbirds

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Sunday in Hershey, the Pens beat the Bears 4-1. Daniel Sprong scored in his fourth straight game and also notched an assist. For Springfield, the Thunderbirds were in Hartford Sunday afternoon and lost to the Wolf Pack 5-3. Juho Lammikko had a goal and an assist for Springfield in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 14-7-1-1 (30 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division) // For SPR: 10-17-1-0 (21 pts., 8th place Atlantic Division)

Referee(s): Chris Pontes / Brandon Blandina

Linesmen: J.P. Waleski / Ryan Knapp

Why You Should Care: Casey DeSmith returns from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the crease for the AHL Penguins. Springfield comes in 4-6 in their last ten games which is actually better than you would think. The Pens cannot underestimate this Thunderbirds team or else they are going be in the same situation they’ve been in with Charlotte last Friday and Lehigh Valley a week ago.

Promotion(s): None

Other Game to Watch: Lehigh Valley and Charlotte rematch in North Carolina after a barnburner game last night.

Next Five Games: @ HFD 12/15, @ BRI 12/16, BNG 12/22, LV 12/23, LV 12/27

Casey in the Crease

On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Matt Murray was activated off of injured reserves and as a result they sent goaltender Casey DeSmith back to Wilkes-Barre / Scranton.

DeSmith never got an actual start for Pittsburgh and still hasn’t in what was his second reign in the NHL. He has only appeared in mop up duty. I actually thought they would have at the very least allowed him to start against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, but Tristan Jarry got that start.

Trickle down effect here in Wilkes-Barre will likely see Anthony Peters released from his professional tryout agreement back to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL and the brass here in Wilkes-Barre telling Sean Maguire to find a permanent place to stay since he most likely will not be going back to the ECHL and Wheeling Nailers.

DeSmith was not in town yet, so Peters’ release was not made today.

Tom will fill out the rest of my notebook here with his own odds and ends.

Tom didn’t offer any more details on Sestito or Bengtsson’s status. Sestito left the game Hershey sometime after the first period as he was not out for the second and Bengtsson was a healthy scratch because he was ill. No reason to push Tinordi, no surprise about DeSmith starting and Maguire backing up, I’d be interested to see when Sean gets another start. Wilkes-Barre plays in Hartford Friday then in Bridgeport Saturday. Finally, Bobby Farnham was given an AHL contract with Springfield, he will be wrecking shop as he only knows how tomorrow.

Gameday setup for Wednesday’s home game with the Thunderbirds hits the blog Wednesday at 3.