Chirps from Center Ice

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

So Close, Yet So Far Away* — Pens WIN 2-1


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I feel like this is a game that a year ago, they somehow find a way to lose.

It’s the middle of November, six ore so weeks into the season so by comparison fairly early, but it’s the first five game winning streak the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have had in a long time, winning 2-1 Saturday over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a hotly contested, close game.

Tonight signified the tenth win of the season for the Penguins, who are now 10-5-1-1. They didn’t win their tenth game until December 7, 2018 in a home game against the Cleveland Monsters last season.

Lehigh Valley had all the momentum on the side, yet Dustin Tokarski was cool as a cucumber and stopped 31 shots.

Tokarski opposed Alex Lyon.


Bob Rotruck, radio voice of the Phantoms, didn’t post lines. Neither did the Phantoms twitter. Sorry.

Lineup Notes: Joseph Blandisi was recalled earlier in they to Pittsburgh, so Justin Almeida took his spot in the lineup up front. Matt Abt for Michale Kim on defense and Emil Larmi backed up and gave Casey DeSmith a well deserved night off. A note on Blandisi going up, it still doesn’t solve the veteran problem.

First Period: Quick moving period. Not a lot happened from an infraction stand point. I don’t think there was a clean face-off all night, linesman Julien Fournier, in particular was awful in that regard.

German Rubtsov struck Andrew Agozzino with a high stick and put the Penguins on a power play. Less than a minute into it, Sam Miletic struck on a rebound that gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Remember when the Penguins used to give up multiple goals in the first period to the opponent? I do.

Despite the advantage to Lehigh Valley at even strength all period and a 14-9 shot advantage, Wilkes-barre led where it mattered most going into the…

Second Period: Mikhail Vorobyev just :55 into the period pounced on a rebound and brought the Phantoms level.

Game stayed pretty even. Pens killed a Matt Abt hook about halfway through. Abt, for his part was OK defensively tonight in my opinion.

Third Period: Need a big goal? Turn to your captain.

Warsofsky knew where the shot was going to go before he even shot the puck. Shooters shoot.

Dustin Tokarski had the save of the evening here.

German Rubtsov will see that pad in his sleep.

Phantoms got close a couple times but the Penguins penalty killing remained stout. With Alex Lyon pulled, the Phantoms were never able to equalize.

Three Stars: 3) Dustin Tokarski (31 saves) 2) Sam Miletic (goal, assist) 1) David Warsofsky (goal, assist)

The Good: The win streak is good. Finding different ways to win is good. Friday against Springfield it was a bit run and gun and the Penguins won that battle. Tonight was a defensive slug fest and the Penguins somehow won the battle. How long it continues is your best guess.

The Bad: Struggling to find one here in a five game home stand where the Penguins allow the opponents just three goals. Let’s just skip this section.

Turning Point: Dustin Tokarski’s pad stop on German Rubtsov preserved a slim 2-1 lead for his side and was just enough to get keep a close affair close, with your team in the lead.

Around the Division: Hartford continues to win, 5-2 winners at home against the Providence Bruins….Springfield keeps pace, rebounding nicely with a 3-2 win in Binghamton….Hershey wins at home against Charlotte 2-1….Bridgeport is shutout in Laval 3-0.

Standings: Hartford 27 — Penguins 22 — Springfield 22 — Providence and Hershey 20 — Lehigh Valley 17 — Charlotte 14 — Bridgeport 12

Wheeling Update: Nailers with a hard luck 1-0 overtime loss in Reading. Jordan Ruby stopped 27 in net for the Nailers.

Video Highlights: 

They get a week of practice after a day off or so, then it’s up to Springfield Friday for a trip to see the Thunderbirds. More in between.

Let’s Go Pens!

* – felt like the headline should have been used in event of a loss, but with Elvis night, had to go with the apropos given the kind of close game it was.


Feels like they could have lost this one.

As close as you like for a game, Pens win 2-1 on goals from Sam Miletic in the first and David Warsofsky in the third. 31 saves from Dustin Tokarski. Pens fifth win in a row, allowed just three away goals during the home stand.

More in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Lehigh Valley 11/16


Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Last night at home against Springfield the Penguins won 4-1. Andrew Agozzino scored a pair of first period goals, the penalty kill was a perfect 7-for-7 and Casey DeSmith had 41 saves in net. For Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms were in Binghamton last night and lost 3-1. Andy Welinski scored the only goal for Lehigh Valley on the power play.

Last Meeting: November 6 in Allentown, the Pens lost 4-2. Kyle Criscuolo had a pair of goals and an assist for the Phantoms. Ryan Haggerty and Jake Lucchini scored for the Penguins.

Record: For WBS: 9-5-1-1 (20 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division) // For LV: 6-4-1-4 (17 pts., 6t place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Terry Koharski / Alex Normandin

Linesmen: Julian Fournier / Ryan Knapp

Why You Should Care: Can the Penguins continue the stingy play? Don’t expect Casey DeSmith tonight after a shutout Wednesday and 41 saves last night, it’s Dustin Tokarski’s time in net tonight. Lehigh Valley will be stewing over the one goal they put up in a bad display last night in Binghamton and won’t need any reason to get up for this rivalry game.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Promotion(s): We’ll be celebrating ‘The King’ on Saturday the16th with ELVIS NIGHT, featuring local tribute artist Jimmy T.  The Exeter native will be performing on the ice during the first intermission and taking photos with fans, all while spreading the word about kidney donations.  Jimmy is himself looking for a donor, and you can find out how you can help him find a match at the game.*

Other Game to Watch: Grand Rapids and Rockford sported nearly equal records coming into the weekend and these Central Division foes square off tonight in Rockford.

Next Five Games: @ SPR 11/22, vs. CHA 11/23, vs. LV 11/27, @ LV 11/29, vs. BRI 11/30

* – promo information credit to

Casey’s Fortress — Pens WIN 4-1


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I guess you could say that they are rolling.

Another stingy win at home, this time a 4-1 victory over the equally as stingy Springfield Thunderbirds team for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Friday night.

Andrew Agozzino added a pair of goals in the first and the Penguins rode a 7-for-7 penalty kill which included a 1:56 of two man disadvantage with 41 saves from their net minder Casey DeSmith who has been playing out of his mind of recent. The Penguins, in the last three games at home, have allowed just one goal.

Well, the weather is getting colder and the Penguins are warming up. Go figure.

DeSmith opposed Chris Driedger.


Lineup Notes: Essentially Ryan Haggerty for Andreas Martinsen, with Anthony Angello bumped to the second line in Martinsen’s spot and Haggerty where Angello was.

First Period: David Warsofsky’s shot from the point was tipped on the way in and Andrew Agozzino was the last guy to sweep it across for an early 1-0 Penguins lead.

But Springfield would answer right back when Anthony Greco would lead a charge up ice, blow a tire, regain himself, drive to the net where Blaine Byron was set up and put a shot on, fell, got his own rebound and shot again, this time going in.

187:06 in between goals. Impressive.

No GIF on it, but a lot of commas.

Agozzino again, this time off of a ridiculous pass from Stefen Noesen from behind the net. Just watch this.

Penguins found themselves in penalty trouble late in the period when all of a sudden, Springfield had 1:56 of a two man advantage when Chase Berger drew blood on a high stick.

Second Period: Springfield managed just one shot on goal during the entirety of the two man advantage as well as the 2:04 leftover on the Berger double minor. It frustrated them, because they started to push and shove after the whistle and it really devolved into a scrap fest from there on out.


Kevin Czuczman caught a great pass from Joseph Blandisi and scored to make it 3-1.

Springfield had ample opportunities in the period to get back into the game, but this isn’t Casey DeSmith’s first time at the rodeo.

Third Period: The pushing and shoving didn’t stop, I didn’t tweet every penalty or every time a referees arm went up. Finally referees Jake Rekucki and Jason Williams started adding on ten minute misconducts to the infractions. I’m assuming there is only a number of times you can tell a player to stop, so they got tired of it and threw them out.

Ryan Haggerty nailed an empty netter from his own blue line to seal it.

Three Stars: 3) Sam Miletic (two assists) 2) Casey DeSmith (41 saves) 1) Andrew Agozzino (two goals)

The Good: The penalty killing unit went 7-for-7. The Thunderbirds power play isn’t anything to write home about. Also, Casey DeSmith is proving why he is an NHL goaltender essentially on loan to an AHL club. He’s good, he’s falling into a dangerous groove and the Penguins need to ride this for as long as they can.

The Bad: Just as the penalty kill was 7-for-7, the lack of discipline needs to be addressed. Any other team with a better power play unit and it becomes a run and gun affair.

Turning Point: After killing the two man advantage, Kevin Czuczman’s goal that gave the Penguins a two goal cushion was all the momentum to carry the day for the Penguins victory.

Around the Division: Hartford continues to pile up points. A late goal in the third guarantees overtime with Providence, yet the Bruins take down the Wolf Pack 4-3 in a shootout….Hershey is shutout in back to back games, this time to Charlotte 3-0….Lehigh Valley loses 3-1 in Binghamton…..Bridgeport loses 4-3 in overtime up in Belleville, Ontario.

Standings: Hartford 25 — Penguins 20 — Springfield and Providence 20 — Hershey 18 — Lehigh Valley 17 — Charlotte 14 — Bridgeport 12

Wheeling Update: The Nailers hosted the Utah Grizzlies Friday and lost 2-1. Renars Krastenbergs had the only goal for Wheeling in the loss, Alex D’Orio took the loss in goal.

Video Highlights:

Penguins are back home looking for five in a row against Lehigh Valley. Gameday setup is here on the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!


They are rolling.

Penguins win 4-1 over Springfield. Two goals by Andrew Agozzino in the first, a hell of a penalty kill display in the second and 41 saves by Casey DeSmith.

More in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Springfield 11/15


Who: Springfield Thunderbirds

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday at home against Hershey, the Penguins were shutout but also shutout the Bears. Wilkes-Barre was the better team and won 1-0 in the shootout. For Springfield, the Thunderbirds hosted Lehigh Valley and won 2-1. Chris Driedger stopped 41 shots en route to the victory.

Last Meeting: November 2 in Springfield, the Penguins were dealt their first shutout loss 4-3. The Penguins outshot the Thunderbirds 44-23, Philippe Desrosiers stole the show with a 41 save performance and went 5 for 6 in the shootout round.

Record: For WBS: 8-5-1-1 (18 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division) // For SPR: 10-6-0-0 (20 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Jake Rekucki / Jason Williams

Linesmen: J.P. Waleski / Michael Magee

Why You Should Care: Low key excited about this game between two defensively stingy teams right now with goalies playing out of their heads presently. If you like offense, tonight might not be for you. Expect another 2-1 or 3-2 affair. You don’t think a team gets shut out tonight, do you?

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Promotion(s): $15 lower bowl tickets, $2 draft beers presented by PA Prostate and postgame autographs from a pair of Penguins players.

Other Game to Watch: It’s always fun when Utica and Syracuse play each other and tonight should be no different as the two teams meet in Syracuse tonight.

Next Five Games: vs. LV 11/16, @ SPR 11/22, vs. CHA 11/23, vs. LV 11/27, @ LV 11/29

AHL Power Rankings: Mid-November 2019

We are halfway through November and just two weeks away from American Thanksgiving and there has been some shake up in the Power Rankings.

Hartford and Springfield were the first teams in the Eastern Conference to ten wins. I don’t think anyone predicted that a month ago. They are winning with goaltending and the ability to win close games in regulation, unlike some teams who play close games but can’t either get that extra goal or that extra point.

Tucson was the first AHL team to ten wins this season and while they are not in the top five this week, they are in the top ten.

Top five go this way this week; Hartford, the leaders in the Atlantic look to widen the gap while other teams in the division figure things out.

Stockton, firing in over four goals a game, are locked in an early battle with Tucson, who they have seen a ton of recently, are second this week.

Laval, the surprise team in the AHL so far, are third and lead the North Division. They are a lot like Hartford that even in defeat they are piling up loser points.

Milwaukee is fourth this week. They are hot in a division which has gone cold.

Discount Toronto, our fifth place team this week, at your peril.

After the Marlies, jump in and see where your favorite team ended up this week if you didn’t link in direct. Enjoy.


Last Games: HFD 1 @ LAV 2 (SO), HFD 4 @ BEL 5 (SO), HER 1 @ HFD 2, BEL 4 @ HFD 3 (SO), HFD 2 @ PRO 1
Don’t adjust your computer screens, this is a very good team. Even in losses, they get points.


Next Games: @ PRO 11/15, vs. PRO 11/16, vs. SYR 11/20, @ ROC 11/22, @ SYR 11/23
Record: 10-1-0-4


Last Games: SJ 2 @ STK 3 (SO), TUC 4 @ STK 3 (OT), STK 2 @ TUC 3 (SO), STK 6 @ TUC 7, SD 3 @ STK 6
Tops in goals for (an eye popping 4.08) and also in power play have the Heat just running teams over in the Pacific. It’s going to be fun watching them counter punch with Tucson in this battle through the winter.


Next Games: vs. TUC 11/15, vs. SJ 11/16, @ BAK 11/21, @ SD 11/23, @ ONT 11/27
Record: 8-2-1-2


Last Games: HFD 1 @ LAV 2 (SO), TOR 5 @ LAV 6 (SO), LAV 2 @ CLE 1, LAV 4 @ CLE 0, BEL 5 @ LAV 4 (OT)
I think it’s safe to call Laval the surprise team in the the North a month and a half into 2019-20. Rocket lead the North with 20 points and even in defeat are getting points.


Next Games: vs. MIL 11/15, vs. BRI 11/16, @ TOR 11/20, vs. UTI 11/22, vs. UTI 11/23, @ BEL 11/27
Record: 9-5-2-0


Last Games: IA 1 @ MIL 0, CHI 2 @ MIL 5, MB 4 @ MIL 6, MIL 3 @ SA 1, MIL 4 @ SA 3 (SO), CHI 3 @ MIL 6
Admirals sit atop the Central in the middle of November. Their run of seven wins in their last ten game shot them there. Interesting games ahead for Milwaukee.


Next Games: @ LAV 11/15, @ BEL 11/16, @ IA 11/19, @ GR 11/22, vs. GR 11/23, vs. MB 11/27
Record: 9-3-1-2


Last Games: TOR 7 @ BEL 4, TOR 5 @ LAV 6 (SO), TOR 1 @ RFD 3, TOR 1 @ GR 4, TOR 5 @ GR 2
Marlies are setting up fine, just two regulation losses and don’t have to travel at all now till Thanksgiving. Who thought that the Laval Rocket would be keeping pace with Toronto like this?


Next Games: vs. TEX 11/16, vs. TEX 11/17, vs. LAV 11/20, vs. MB 11/23, vs. MB 11/24
Record: 8-2-2-1

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