Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

Weekend Update 9/14

Another week closer to the start of the hockey season. NHL camp started Friday in Pittsburgh. But since the last time I blogged, there were some newsy items I just want to hit on here:

Tom Sestito has retired. He was mulling an offer with an AHL team out west, but told Lindsay Kramer:

“It came to do I want to move the family across country again or call it quits?” he said. “I had enough, I guess. I think I just don’t have it mentally to play another year.”

What Kyle was referring to…

That playoff series with the Bears was probably one of my most enjoyable to cover as a fan and a blogger. It had everything. Sestito was a giant part of that. Sestito may have retired, but legends never die.

Other news…

Penguins rookies went 0-3 and weren’t competitive at all against the three other teams they played last weekend. Take nothing away from this. It was a four day tournament for a bunch of teenagers and players still years away from the AHL. Adam Johnson shined in the tournament, but that’s because he has the experience playing at this level of hockey.

(If you think I am late with this stale news, sorry, I’m trying to enjoy the final knockings of summer and don’t get worked up over rookie tournaments that will be an afterthought come October)

On AHLTV, Stephen Meserve from 100 Degree Hoickey spoke with AHL VP of Communications Jason Chaimovitch about how the whole thing came about. They listened to you about an antiquated AHL Live system that overstayed its welcome and was grossly overpriced. It’s a good read.

Wheeling shores up its goaltending situation with the signing of Evan Cowley. The coaching staff is high on this guy.

Pittsburgh announced its training camp roster. No surprises of the names invited. Ryan Haggerty, on AHL contract only with Wilkes-Barre, gets an invite.

A notable absence on that roster list is Kevin Czuczman. He’s injured. He had offseason shoulder surgery and is out until December. Probably went straight to the operating table after the series with Charlotte and is still rehabbing. If I had to guess, it’s a rotator cuff and without giving away what I do for full time work, it’s a six month recovery period, barring complications.

As noted by Tyler here, Pens are deep on defense, so while Czuczman will be missed, his absence shouldn’t hurt Wilkes-Barre too badly out of the gate.

Too good not to share, Derrick Graffius had his own thoughts on Penguins training camp.

So that’s that. Look for Wilkes-Barre top put a camp roster out at some point during the coming days, probably later next week. When they do, I will have words here.

Enjoy the weekend.

Introducing AHLTV

If you have ever watched or tried to watch the AHL online, your only (legal) way was to use AHL Live. It was a clunky, overpriced devil of a product that outgrew its use over time. Half the time the feeds never worked, weren’t synced up correctly or some other technical problem. On top of that, it cost a fortune, over $200 if you wanted to watch all the games.

Well, that’s changed, in a big, big way.

The American Hockey League announced Wednesday the debut of AHLTV, it’s brand new streaming platform. Details here.

Some of the highlights include…

…high definition of every AHL broadcast.
…the ability to watch on virtually any connected device.
…live stats.
…create your own highlights.

I can’t wait to play around with that last one. Too many times I have had to wait up for or edit in highlights of a Penguins game for my blog recap by either waiting for Coal Street to put out highlights or the other team if it were a road game. Now, I don’t have to wait, I can make my own.

That’s all well and good, but how much does it cost?

Are you sitting down? Because you should be when you read the next paragraph.

All teams, all games — $79.99
One team, all games — $59.99
One team, home or away — $39.99
All games, one month — $19.99
All games, one day — $6.99

What used to cost $350 for a year is now essentially seventy-five cents a game. Remarkable. Here is a clip of what to expect out of the experience….

You can learn more, and sign up like I will be, by following this link.

Proof will be in the pudding when the league kicks off in about a month. Price points and fancy ways to watch are well and good, but if you can’t actually use the product you are paying for, no matter if it is 10 dollars or 10 cents, it isn’t worth it. But today’s announcement is certainly a positive, long overdue step in the the right direction.

Skalding Hot

Probably the last of the slow news cycle for the summer as the calendar is set to flip to September and players begin to file back from their summer hiatus into NHL training camps that begin very soon.

It had been speculated, and today confirmed, that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins announced Friday that Jarrod Skalde has been named assistant coach.

Skalde had served as development coach for the Penguins prior to the news today. He has coaching experience at the AHL level, serving as the head coach of the Norfolk Admirals in 2014-15.

Also…

I don’t have anything else. Stories will pick up in the month of September.

Enjoy the Labor Day Weekend.

The Very Humid and Flooded Notebook

I didn’t think, going back and compiling the bits and pieces of information I had stockpiled since the last time I blogged here in the summertime that I had a lot of stuff to blog about.

Well, I do. So here goes.

First, if we are Facebook friends and you get your information on when I post stuff on here through that platform, I regret to inform you that Facebook killed that avenue as of August 1. Blame the Russians I suppose. I will try to remember to cut and paste after stuff gets posted on here over there, but in the off chance that I miss, keep the blog as part of your internet bookmarks. I will not be creating a Facebook Page (apparently the posting from WordPress to Facebook still works on that platform) because it’s too much work and there enough pages out there.

Anyway, now to the good stuff…

Penguins announced their promo schedule to their season ticket members. They also announced the hat designs for the McDonald’s giveaways. They are….

Mike Bavis was announced as the new coach of the Wheeling Nailers. If you are wondering why the Wheeling Nailers now have two head coaches, well their old new coach, Mark Dennehy was named head coach of the Binghamton Devils. Extremely coy of the New Jersey Devils organization to sweep in and and ask for permission from Pittsburgh to interview a coach already under contract like that. You’ve think you’ve seen it all in this industry and then that happens. Anyway, Bavis looks like Ed Kopec from Edward’s Garden Center in Forty Fort, for some local local inference / humor.

Wilkes-Barre signed D Johnny Austin. Some information on him…

Pittsburgh was listed #23 on Corey Pronman’s Farm System Rankings over on The Athletic. Subscription required and highly recommended to read his thoughts on Penguins prospects here.

This happened at some point during the summer and yes I am channeling my 14 year old self with this proud accomplishment…

Ex-Penguin and current now former Hershey Bear Zach Sill signed with HC Sparta Praha.

Coal Street is offering a neat little internship to college students. You will probably cross paths with me at some point! Yay education!

Finally, Tom Sestito’s name popped up in the news cycle. He’s probably headed West, story here from out of Syracuse. Sestito is from nearby Rome, NY.

Less than 50 days to the start of the new season. Spend these days wisely.

Thursday Tidbits 7/19

Emptying out the notebook with the following pieces of news from the last week or so.

– It was announced today that Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins assistant coach Tim Army was named Head Coach of the Iowa Wild. The Wild play in the Central Division, and will not see the Penguins on their regular season schedule. The job opened up when Derek Lalonde took a job as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Wild were primed to be a strong team to start last year and were for large parts but they fizzled, losing seven of their last ten games and falling out of playoff contention. Lalonde fails upward, and gets an NHL gig while Army comes over in an attempt to get Iowa to the playoffs in 2018-19.

– Army may not be the only Penguins assistant on his way out the door…

– Pittsburgh re-signed Teddy Blueger, Thomas DiPauli and Ethan Prow this week. The only RFA left outstanding is Tristan Jarry.

Couple things from Coal Street this past week. First, the Penguins Podcast is back (on SoundCloud, which means half the people can’t just download it on iTunes and listen to it on their commute home read: me if any Penguins staffer reads this, please put the podcast on iTunes sooner rather than later)

Finally, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary, the Penguins are looking for your fondest memory of the last 19 years. You can let them know right here.

Enjoy your weekend.

More Depth; Penguins Re-Sign Four More

Thursday, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins announced the re-signing of Jarrett Burton, Joseph Cramarossa, Troy Josephs and Kevin Spinozzi to AHL deals.

All depth signings. Burton can kill penalties and is a fit in anywhere type of player. Cramarossa came over in the trade for Colin Smith with Stockton and had a bit of an offensive uptick once he was traded to the Penguins. Josephs is a bit of a question mark, he only appeared in four games and was a Wheeling regular. Same with Spinozzi, who made the team out of training camp last year.

On the AHL schedule, the Penguins put out a video breaking it down:

Two departures. Reid Gardiner signed with the Utica Comets and Olympian Christian Thomas is heading overseas to play with Rögle BK in Sweden.

I’ll have an update to my Offseason Moves Chart and the AHL Big Board.

Finally Harry Zolnierczyk, a one time Penguin who was with the Milwaukee Admirals last year, signed an AHL deal with the Springfield Thunderbirds. Thunderbirds are looking like a dangerous team in a division full of dynamite.

Edit: As I was going through the EliteProspects transfer twitter feed, I spotted that ex-Penguin Simon Despres was invited to the Montreal Canadiens training camp this Fall. He’s working hard to make the team, too.

Enjoy your weekend.

2018-19 AHL Schedule Released

I guess we can start marking off July 11 as the date that the American Hockey League debuts it’s playing schedule for the coming year. A year to the day, they announced the 2017-18 schedule. Today, on July 11, they did the same.

We already know who the Penguins will open with, that news was announced yesterday (Springfield on Saturday, October 6) so it’s time to look at the other 75 games that make up the 76 game regular season schedule that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will be playing.

League release here, Penguins release here.

I always do a question and answer session with the schedule since I think it’s the best way to look at it despite the fact that it is the same thing over and over again. So here goes:

1) Alright, so I know when the home opener is and against who, and we already know who the Penguins play and how many times, but refresh my memory again anyway please.

No problem. Here it is again for you.

Opponent Home Road   Opponent Home Road
Binghamton 2 2 Milwaukee 1 1
Bridgeport 4 4 Providence 3 3
Charlotte 2 2 Rochester 1 1
Cleveland 2 2 Rockford 1 1
Grand Rapids 1 1 Springfield 3 3
Hartford 3 3 Syracuse 1 1
Hershey 6 6 Toronto 1 1
Lehigh Valley 6 6 Utica 1 1

As pointed out by John on Twitter, the Penguins do not play the Belleville Senators or the Laval Rocket this season. I didn’t pick up on that when the matrix was announced earlier this year.

2) Cleveland! They are new! When do we play the Monsters?

Four times as the above chart indicates. First match up is right out of the gate in Cleveland immediately following the home opener with Springfield on Thursday, October 11 and Saturday, October 13. The Monsters visit the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Friday, December 7 and again on Friday, February 1.

3) Grand Rapids, Milwaukee and Rockford are back for another year. When do we play these Western Conference teams?

Road trip to the Midwest begins with Rockford on February 6, Milwaukee on February 8 and then a stop off in Grand Rapids on February 9.

Grand Rapids is the first to stop into Wilkes-Barre for a Friday, January 4 game followed by Milwaukee the next night on January 5 and then Rockford is in on Sunday, February 24.

4) Longest road trip? Longest home stand?

Longest road trip is five games in a row in November, starting Sunday November 4 in Bridgeport, a three in three to Providence, Hartford then back to Providence the following weekend then a Wednesday game in Springfield on November 14.

Longest home stand is no longer than three games, which are scattered throughout the schedule.

5) How many three in threes?

6) We know how much you love Sunday home games (/sarcasm<font/off>) so how many times do we have to hear you complain about your Sunday afternoons being interrupted by traveling to the Mohegan Sun Arena?

Haha, funny. There are five Sunday home dates scattered throughout the season.

7) We want more charts…

Good, cause I have them, courtesy of the Penguins release. See below.

GAMES BY DAY OF THE WEEK   GAMES BY MONTH
Home Road Total   Home Road Total
Monday 1 1 2 October 4 4 8
Tuesday 0 2 2 November 6 8 14
Wednesday 5 7 12 December 6 8 14
Thursday 0 1 1 January 5 4 9
Friday 12 9 21 February 5 5 10
Saturday 15 12 27 March 9 5 14
Sunday 5 6 11 April 3 4 7

8) Are the Penguins playing any workday afternoon games?

These are known as kids games because they normally involve droves of school buses bringing school kids to a game to scream when the video board says to. For the longest time, the Penguins haven’t played in any school day games.

Well this year, they play in a sum total of three, all on the road. The first is a November 14 game in Springfield which concludes the five game road trip. That game starts at 10:35 in the morning. They play two more in Bridgeport; 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 23 and again on Tuesday, April 2 at 10:30 a.m. also.

The Penguins host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a 1:05 p.m. game on Monday, January 21 on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

9) All-Star Game this year is where again?

It’s in Springfield, Massachusetts this year and it’s going to be played on January 27 for the Skills Competition and January 28 for the All-Star Classic.

10) What’s the theme the Penguins are going with this year?

Well, it’s their 20th Season in the AHL. They have a logo for the occasion you may have seen. They didn’t really have a theme last year, so maybe they are doing away with them altogether because I didn’t see anything listed for this year either.

11) Are the Penguins playing in any special venues this year?

No.

12) Anything else I need to know?

The Penguins play their 1,500th regular season game on Saturday, October 27 in Hershey. Why in Hershey and not at home to commemorate the milestone baffles me, but that’s the brakes.

Charlotte trip is January 11 and 12th, a Friday / Saturday stop into the Queen City.

The defending Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies drop in for their only visit on St. Patrick’s Day which falls on a Sunday this season.

Syracuse makes their only stop by on Saturday March 9. Utica drops by on February 16. Rochester is in on January 18.

The Penguins are the home opponent for the Binghamton Devils on New Years Eve, with a 6:05 p.m. start time.

There are six days this season on which 30 of the league’s 31 teams are in action: Sat., Oct. 13; Sat., Dec. 8; Fri., Dec. 21; Sat., Dec. 22; Sat., Jan. 19; and Sat., Mar. 30. The Penguins play on all of those dates.

Two Friday’s off in October, none in November, one in December, January and February, two in March and none in April.

The Penguins get one Saturday off this season, February 23.

One weird quirk which was pointed out to me was the Saturday, December 8 home game with Bridgeport that starts at 3:05. Penguins are on the road in Hershey Sunday afternoon, but that game starts at 5:05 – and Bridgeport doesn’t play again until December 14. Penn State Football is long done at that time, so if you want to speculate as to what it could be that is accounting for the strange start, please let me know in the comments.

You can sync the entire Penguins schedule to your phone or other device by clicking here and selecting the platform which applies to you.

So there you have it. Now go back to summer and enjoy it, because it will be over before you know it.