Chirps from Center Ice

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

First Win of 2020 — Pens WIN 3-0


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You saw it Friday if you watched them lose 2-1 to the Hershey Bears in a shootout. They only allowed one regulation goal and but for the goofy rules of, “no ties” these days, lost in a shootout.

I said then that if they played the same way that the wins would come.

Well, we didn’t have to wait long. Just the next night, actually.

A 25 save shutout by Casey DeSmith, his third of the season  and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win 3-0 over the first place Hartford Wolf Pack. DeSmith’s first win since November and the teams first win in 2020.

DeSmith opposed Tom McCollum.

Lineup: They didn’t post them, neither side did. Macoy Erkamps for Jon Lizotte on defense. Mike told Tyler postgame the following:

Good sign, going on the long road trip.

First Period: Zipped by. One power play chance for the Penguins and a 9-8 shot advantage. McCollum had a hell of a save to deny Anthony Angello with a pad and then again in the same play Matt Abt fired wide from behind center ice with McCollum out of the net.

Second Period: Same as the first, only Hartford went on the power play and didn’t score.

Then, Kevin Roy scored his first in a Penguin sweater capitalizing on this turnover by the Wolf Pack.

Third Period: Pens thought they scored again when Anthony Angello’s shot was smothered but not covered by Tom McCollum. McCollum went into the snow angel to cover but never fully contacted the puck to the ice and it came loose. Referee Ted Anstett comes out of the corner, loses sight of the puck because of the mass of bodies in the pile, has intent to blow his whistle all while Angello finds the puck and flips it into the net with McCollum prone. No goal on account of intent to blow the whistle.

In the final ten minutes, that’s when Casey DeSmith shined. He flicked out the pad on a quick Hartford shot off the rush, then stopped a puck in a pile of bodies to preserve the lead. To this point, Hartford was never a threat to score.

Finally with time dwindling, Wolf Pack Head Coach Kris Knoblauch pulls McCollum and David Warsofsky and Anthony Angello both hit empty net goals.

Don’t normally post empty netters, but it’s been so long since I have been able to do this too, please forgive me.

(If you don’t follow me on Twitter, it’s a thing I do after every home win. The etiology of the term, “Bang Biscuit” can be found here. I do love me some Danny Patrick)

Three Stars: 

The Good: Nice way to shutout the Atlantic’s top team in Hartford. The Wolf Pack have now lost their ninth game of the season in regulation. I think the Penguins may have exposed some flaws tonight as well because the Wolf Pack looked flat and very pedestrian.

The Bad: Nitpicking a 3-0 shutout win, but the power play went 0-for-2 and on a night where a lot of things went right, the power play needs work because they never looked like a threat tonight or on Friday.

Turning Point: Going to throw in a few of those DeSmith saves in the third here. They get by him and obviously it’s a different result.

Around the Division: Providence beats Springfield 5-2….Lehigh Valley shuts out Laval 2-0….Hershey doubles up Cleveland 4-2….Charlotte thumps Bridgeport 5-2.

Standings: Hartford 53 — Hershey 51 — Providence 45 — Springfield 44 — Charlotte 43 — Penguins 42 — Lehigh Valley 33 — Bridgeport 31

Wheeling Update: Nothing went right for the Nailers tonight, losing 6-1 to Fort Wayne. Yushi Hirano had the only goal for the Nailers in the loss and Alex D’Orio stopped 28 of 34. Fort Wayne scored twice on the power play.

Video Highlights: 

They are off Sunday, then hit the road for a while and spend a week in Austin, Texas for Wednesday and Friday’s games against the Texas Stars. But for anything breaking between now and then, talk to you Wednesday for the 8 p.m. start for the Penguins / Stars game. Gameday setup hits the blog Wednesday at 4.

Let’s Go Pens!


First win for Casey DeSmith since November, his third shutout of the season, Penguins first win in 2020, and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton apwnguins take down the Atlantic Divisions top team in the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Lots in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Hartford 1/11


Who: Hartford Wolf Pack

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Last night at home against Hershey the Penguins lost 2-1 in a shootout. Jamie Devane had they only goal for the Pens in regulation. For Hartford, the Wolf Pack doubled up the Charlotte Checkers 6-3 last night. Vinni Lettieri had a goal and three assists. Danny O’Regan had two goals.

Record: For WBS: 17-15-3-3 (40 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For HFD: 23-8-2-5 (53 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Conor O’Donnell / Ted Anstett

Linesmen: J.P. Waleski / Luke Murray

Why You Should Care: Hartford comes in on a six game winning streak and the Penguins, while they played great last night, have lost five straight. It’s the first time these teams have played each other all season and should be a good measuring stick for the Penguins on how they stack up against this really good Hartford side.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Other Game to Watch: Fourth place Providence travels to third place Springfield. The Thunderbirds have been rolling and the P-Bruins have been on a skid. Should be an interesting one to keep and eye on.

Promotion(s): McDONALD’S FAN-TASTIC DEAL – The Penguins face off with he Hartford WolfPack on another McDonald’s FAN-Tastic Night.  Fans can purchase a ticket for the game, and receive a free Penguins hat, as well as a voucher good for a free McDonald’s Value Meal starting at just $15.  Get your FAN-Tastic tickets (while supplies last) by calling the Penguins at 570-208-7367 or online below.*

Next Five Games: @ TEX 1/15, @ TEX 1/17, @ SA 1/18, @ SA 1/21, @ CHA 1/24

* – promo information credit to 

I Dislike Shootouts — Pens LOSE 2-1 (SO)


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They deserved a better fate tonight.

In what can best be described as their best game in weeks, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lose 2-1 in a shootout Friday night to the Hershey Bears. Both teams played high energy, tightly contested hockey and it was a joy to watch at times. Shane Gersich’s goal in the bottom of the sixth round of the shootout was the only goal scored in the shootout round.

A team that is battling right now needed a result like this and got one, they just came up empty on the winning end of it. If they continue to play like this, then the wins will eventually come around.

Dustin Tokarski opposed Pheonix Copley.


Lineup Notes: The Penguins recalled Christopher Brown from Wheeling Friday, seemingly to end the disaster that is the Oula Palve experiment for the moment. Jamie Devane slotted back in the lineup for Jan Drozg. Michael Kim was in for Macoy Erkamps on defense.

First Period: Strong start for the Penguins. Matt Abt had a shot hit both posts that stayed out.  After a long review by referees Terry Koharski and Dan Kelly, Koharski’s initial call on the ice of no goal was confirmed.

They played a good period, limiting the Bears to just six shots in the period and giving up one power play.

Second Period: Sleepy open as Axel Jonsson-Fjallby sneaks past the defense off of a nice feed by Liam O’Brien and beat Tokarski for a 1-0 Hershey lead.

Jon Lizotte was injured on and did not return on this hit by Beck Malenstyn.

They teach you at a young age to keep an eye on the puck. Both players did there, and because they are built like professional athletes, had an accident where they ran into one another and Lizotte was the recipient of a hit that may cost him some time.

Penguins Head Coach Mike Vellucci told Tyler postgame that it’s a head injury and they will know more Saturday. Assume concussion protocol and all that. Will be interesting to see if Lizotte accompanies the team on the road trip next week.

Jamie Devane finished off an excellent feed from Niclas Almari to tie the game at one.

Penguins had two golden opportunities to go ahead when Hershey were called on back to back minors, but Wilkes-Barre failed to cash.

Third Period: Zipped by without many whistles and they just played. Hershey had a long stretch where they just had two shots in the entire period. The Penguins were peppering Copley but couldn’t score.

Overtime: Tokarski stopped a Jonsson-Fjallby breakaway and Copley stopped a DiPauli one. The Penguins had a power play they didn’t score on.

Shootout: No scoring for either team until the bottom of the sixth, where Shane Gersich goes five hole and wins it for the Bears.

Three Stars: 

Yo, Coal Street, that graphic is awesome and the tweet explaining is better too. Please keep it up!

The Good: They played an almost perfect game. They only took one penalty and only allowed one goal in regulation.

The Bad: Can’t go 0-for-5 on the power play.

Turning Point: The obvious answer here is the Gersich goal that ended the game.

Around the Division: Utica beats Lehigh Valley 5-2….Springield shuts out Bridgeport 4-0….Hartford doubles up Charlotte 6-3….Providence was off.

Standings: Hartford 53 — Hershey 49 — Springfield 44 — Providence 43 — Charlotte 41 — Penguins 40 — Lehigh Valley 31 — Bridgeport 31

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose 5-2 in Reading. Graham Knott had a goal, Ryan Scarfo had two assists.

Video Highlights: 

Hartford is in Saturday for what should be a good measuring stick game. Wolf Pack have been the class of the division and the Penguins haven’t seen them yet this season. Gameday setup is here Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!


Back and forth, even affair that Hershey wins in the bottom of the sixth with Shane Gersich scoring the only goal of the shootout.

They deserved better, but it’s the fifth loss in a row and if they played like they did tonight, the wins will come around.

More in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Hershey 1/10


Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday at home against Charlotte, the Pens lost 6-3. It was the third straight game where the Penguins have allowed six goals. For Hershey, the Bears hosted the Hartford Wolf Pack on Wednesday and lost 2-1. Hartford scored a goal with under a minute to play. Philippe Maillet scored for Hershey.

Last Meeting: Last Friday at home, the Penguins lost to Hershey 6-2. Andrew Agozzino scored both goals for Wilkes-Barre in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 17-15-3-2 (39 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For HER: 21-11-2-3 (47 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Terry Koharski / Dan Kelly

Linesmen: Tyler Loftus / Bill Lyons

Why You Should Care: Something has to give tonight with both teams coming off of losses Wednesday. Seems like its an important game for Wilkes-Barr who are in a tailspin of recent and need to get things back on track. Not allowing the opponent to score six goals is probably a good starting point. See where it goes from there.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Other Game to Watch: Charlotte gets a crack at the Penguins next opponent, the Hartford Wolf Pack in Hartford tonight.

Promotion(s): EYEWITNESS NEWS FAN FRIDAY — It’s another EYEWITNESS NEWS FAN FRIDAY when the Hershey Bears visit the Mohegan Sun Arena.  Lower bowl tickets are available for just $15, grab select draft beers for just $2 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. courtesy of the PA Prostate Cancer Association, and enjoy postgame autographs from a pair of Penguins players.*

Next Five Games: vs. HFD 1/11, @ TEX 1/15, @ TEX 1/17, @ SA 1/18, @ SA 1/21

AHL Power Rankings: Mid-January 2020

There hasn’t been much of a shakeup to the top five in this version of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings. The top five from last time are still in the top five, but there has been some shuffling with the top four.

Milwaukee and Tucson remain the class of the West, Hershey may be the best team in the East, and there are teams elevatoring up and down as we go through January.

After Hershey, jump through to see where your favorite team ended up this time if you didn’t link in direct.


Last Games: MIL 3 @ GR 0, GR 3 @ MIL 2, MIL 3 @ CHI 2 (SO), MIL 2 @ CLE 3 (OT), MIL 4 @ CLE 5, GR 3 @ MIL 2
Still lead the Central by a lot, so a few slip ups here and there don’t hurt. Are the class of the division for certain.


Next Games: vs. RFD 1/10, vs. RFD 1/11, @ RFD 1/14, vs. CHI 1/15, @ CHI 1/18, vs. BEL 1/21
Record: 24-7-4-2


Last Games: COL 4 @ TUC 3, COL 4 @ TUC 1, SD 4 @ TUC 7, SJ 1 @ TUC 5, SJ 5 @ TUC 4 (OT)
Since we last did these, the Roadrunners went 2-2-1. Is this a trend worth keeping an eye on? That’s for you to decide.


Next Games: @ COL 1/10, @ COL 1/11, @ SD 1/17, @ ONT 1/18, @ SD 1/21
Record: 25-7-1-0


Last Games: HFD 1 @ BRI 5, PRO 1 @ HFD 4, BRI 2 @ HFD 3, HFD 3 @ PRO 1, UTI 1 @ HFD 3, HFD 2 @ HER 1
Hartford sill lead in the Atlantic, but for how long? Star goalie Igor Shesterkin is with the Rangers now. The Wolf Pack have him to thank for this lead that they have.


Next Games: vs. CHA 1/10, @ WBS 1/11, @ UTI 1/15, @ UTI 1/17, @ HER 1/18
Record: 22-8-2-5


Last Games: BEL 3 @ ROC 4, ROC 0 @ BNG 2, ROC 2 @ UTI 3, ROC 4 @ BEL 3 (OT), ROC 2 @ TOR 5, BNG 4 @ ROC 3 (SO)
We find it funny how the Rochester Americans can throttle every team in their division except the last place Binghamton Devils, who got the Amerks twice the last time we did this.


Next Games: vs. BEL 1/10, @ SYR 1/11, vs. CLE 1/17, @ LV 1/18, @ HER 1/19, @ CLE 1/22
Record: 21-9-2-3


Last Games: HER 6 @ UTI 5 (OT), WBS 2 @ HER 1, HER 3 @ LV 0, HER 6 @ WBS 2, BRI 1 @ HER 2, BRI 2 @ HER 4, HFD 2 @ HER 1
Shakeup in goal in Hartford leaves the door wide open for Hershey to essentially now run away with this division based off of their current run of play. The Bears look like the only team in the Atlantic that wants to win on a consistent basis.


Next Games: @ WBS 1/10, vs. CLE 1/11, @ CHA 1/14, @ CHA 1/15, vs. HFD 1/18,vs. ROC 1/19, @ SPR 1/22
Record: 21-11-2-3

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