Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

Last Weekend of August

Couple things to touch on as we have our AHL schedule and are looking forward to September, kids going back to school, and hockey season getting going in about 50 days….

Pittsburgh announced rosters for the annual rookie tournament in London, Ontario in mid-September. Seth did a blog post highlighting players to watch. Jonathan offered a piece where he wrote capsules on all the players.

Ty Loney signed with Adirondack of the ECHL Thursday. I have updated the 2016 Offseason Moves list.

I took a look at that list. The unsigned players that remain are Harrison Ruopp and Dan O’Donoghue (who were RFA’s that were not tendered offers by the Penguins) and Tyler Biggs, Brian Foster and Ryan Parent.

The only other thing going on right now as a preview of sorts is the summertime Penguins Podcast with Nick Hart and Mike O’Brien. The duo are previewing the divisional opponents. They touched on how the Lehigh Valley Phantoms stack up. They give their predictions on if they see the Phantoms as a playoff team. The answers they give may surprise some, as it surprised me. The total podcast time is about 20 minutes, so it’s good to listen to at work, the gym or on the way home or maybe outside having a cigar or in the pool. They plan on rolling these out once a week to the start of the AHL season. Should make for some good listening.

Man, Labor Day weekend is next weekend. Where did this summer go?


2016-17 AHL Schedule Released

Time to whip out the planners and block off time from work, the 2016-17 AHL Schedule is here!

As tradition here on the blog, with the release of the schedule, comes a question and answer session. I answer all the pertinent questions regarding the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins playing schedule.

So here you go….

Question 1: Who do the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins play first this season?

Answer: That would be the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday October 15, the Penguins home opener.

Question 2: Any Western Conference flavor on the menu this year?

Answer: LOL, no. All Eastern Conference teams again this year.

Question 3: What does the divisional breakdown look like against Bridgeport, Hartford, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Providence and Springfield?

Answer: 12 games against Lehigh Valley and Hershey, Six against Springfield, Bridgeport and Providence and eight against Hartford. Split home and away.

Question 4: What is the longest road trip? What about home stand?

Answer: Longest road trip of the season for the Penguins is two separate seven dates in a row away from the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. January 8 through the 2oth, then again in February, from the 17th to March 5th.

The longest home stand for the Penguins is six straight home dates in February, from February 3 to the 14.

Question 5: What about the remainder of the schedule?

The remainder of the schedule breakdown for the Penguins against in-Conference, non-divisional opponents is as follows; six games against Binghamton and Syracuse, four against Utica and St. John’s and two against Toronto, Albany and Rochester, all split home and away.

Question 6: How many three games in three nights?

Answer: Last year the Penguins had eight. This year, the Penguins have the same amount, including three straight weekends of three in three action at the end of the season from March 24 to April 9, 2017.

Question 7: I am a visual learner. Show me a chart of daily and monthly breakdowns.

Answer: Here you go.

Home Road Total
Monday 0 2 2
Tuesday 4 0 4
Wednesday 5 5 10
Thursday 0 0 0
Friday 12 10 22
Saturday 14 12 26
Sunday 3 9 12

And the Monthly…

Home Road Total
October 5 2 7
November 5 7 12
December 6 6 12
January 5 9 14
February 6 5 11
March 6 6 12
April 5 3 8

Question 8: Any kids games?

Answer: Kids games are by definition games that start in the morning. The Penguins don’t have any morning start games. The earliest the Penguins play a game is 1 p.m. on Martin Luther King Day which is Monday, January 16, 2017 up in Syracuse.

Question 9: Where is the All-Star Classic at again this season?

Answer: Not far away, actually. The League announced a couple of months ago that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms would be the host city for this season. The event will take place January 28 through January 30, 2017 down at PPL Center.

Question 10: Are the Penguins playing in any special venues this season?

Answer: No. All home games will be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena or the home arena of the opponent.

Question 11: What is the Penguins theme this season?

Answer: Live for the Moment. You can click here to be taken to a page where you may download the schedule onto your mobile device.

Question 12: Anything else I need to know?

Answer: Penguins are really pushing the Tuesday games in an effort to bust up the three in three. Whether or not Tuesday evening home games will be a big draw or not remains to be seen. Also, the massive amount of Friday and Saturday home games (26 in total) is a real push to get people in seats.

Pens play their New Years Eve game on the road this season up in Binghamton, a 6:05 p.m. start up there.

There are nine days this season on which all 30 AHL teams are in action: Sat., Nov. 12; Sat., Nov. 26; Sat., Dec. 3; Sat., Jan. 7; Fri., Jan. 13; Sat., Jan. 28; Fri., Mar. 17; Sat., Mar. 18; and Fri., Apr. 14.

Won’t be long now! I can start my previews for all 30 teams and look for schedule boxes on the left hand sude of the blog to start rolling out, perhaps as soon as this week with the next three games for Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh and Wheeling!

Schedule Coming…

Back later to find out how many times the Penguins play the Bears, Phantoms, and every one else in the division and conference and the annual gripe about not having any Western Conference teams on the the schedule.

Di Pauli Signs 8/19

It was announced Friday morning that free agent forward Thomas Di Pauli signed a two year entry level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Di Pauli, originally a Washington Capitals draft pick, never signed with the Caps and became a free agent this week.

He’s 5’11, 197 pounds. Speedy forward with good hands. Played on Notre Dame with Bryan Rust which, depending on what website you do to to get your hockey projections, plays the same style.

Di Pauli went 22-39-61 over his last two seasons with Notre Dame, so he knows how to get his name on the scoresheet.

If he doesn’t make the big club out of camp, you can expect to see Di Pauli here in Wilkes-Barre, probably getting booed by Bears fans who were excited to see him play for them next season if he didn’t make the Capitals roster. Di Pauli’s presence alone will provide a boost for what was looking like an offensively starved AHL Penguins team. You can only keep so many bodies in the NHL, so if Di Pauli sticks, another body gets sent down. It’s a win-win for Wilkes-Barre regardless.

Elsewhere, Lehigh Valley signed goaltender Mark Dekanich Thursday. Dekanich hasn’t been the same since his All-Star days with Milwaukee a couple years ago. He spent much of last season with South Carolina in the ECHL and I expect him to do the same with Reading in the ECHL.

Our ECHL affiliate in Wheeling announced Wednesday that they have extended their affiliation agreement with Pittsburgh and subsequently Wilkes-Barre for two more seasons, out to 2018.

No AHL schedule yet. Probably early next week, based off of tweets from some teams that I have seen. Only question that remains is how many times we see Hershey and Lehigh Valley, everyone else in the division and everyone else in the conference, because we aren’t going to play anyone from the Western Conference. You get your hopes up for variety and new teams only to be disappointed year after year with the same old, same old.

Back next week to break it all down.

Lively New Livery

Coal Street teased the following this morning…

…which is good for summertime blogging I suppose. I’m enjoying my summer and the warm weather along with the pool and cigar time. Good to keep the fingers sharp and the content on the blog fresh.

Later that day, the Pens announced a new look…

Release here. Remember with the new rule change this year it will be whites at home till Christmas than darks at home thereafter.

No word on if there will be alternate jerseys and what those will look like. There always is but there was no word in todays release.

For visual learners…

Details on when and where you can get these new colors in the press release.

One other note that was out there today was on an ex-Penguin. Eric Hartzell is back playing in America and today signed with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL.

More news to come this week.

Leach Defects 8/3

With the announcement earlier this week of the assistant coaches named to the bench with Clark Donatelli manning the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins ship for 2016-17, it wasn’t a matter of if Jay Leach would land on his feet with another team, but when.

It happened Thursday. What was wildly reported on for weeks was made official. Leach is heading to Providence to serve as assistant coach with Trent Whitfield. Leach and Whitfield will serve as assistants to Kevin Dean.

It’s a bit of a monkey see, monkey do bit with the P-Bruins, who are the second team this week to name two assistant coaches. I think that you will see that become the norm. Your ideal situation is to run your AHL bench like you do in the NHL.

Kevin Dean on Whitfield and Leach as told to Mark Divver of The Providence Journal

Back home, Mike O’Brien and Nick Hart sat down with new Penguins assistant coach J.D. Forrest and podcaster about it. You can check that out and give it a listen here.

Enjoy August. Remember to apply sunscreen.

No, You Haven’t Missed Anything

It’s the middle of summer. The Top 100 AHL Free Agent Big Board and Beyond is pretty well picked over with players signing with teams. There is nothing out there in the hockey world that is worth noting. You haven’t missed anything.

Barry Goers was the Friday re-signing by the Penguins back on July 8. Since then, nothing but tumbleweeds.

Even the AHL is running retread news on its Twitter feed this morning….

Possible news includes a new assistant coach on Coal Street….

Down 81, ex-Penguin Reid Cashman was named assistant coach of the Hershey Bears filling the role of Bryan Helmer who took the position of VP of Hockey Operations for the departing Doug Yingst.

That’s about it. We are probably about five weeks away from an AHL schedule. If / when Coal Street makes an announcement on a new assistant coach, I’ll have a blog here. But otherwise, go outside and enjoy the warm weather.