What you missed…
A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
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.
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.
Couple signings to note as we edge towards the first round of cuts in Pittsburgh and the start of training camp here in Wilkes-Barre…
–> Coal Street announced the signing of 6’3 defenseman Evan Wardley. Wardley, late of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, debuted as a professional this past Spring with the ECHL Wheeling Nailers. He has a boatload of penalty minutes, which means he plays a physical game that he can back up with his fists. Admittedly, I am now just making up words about the guy to fill a paragraph, but Wilkes-Barre must have seen enough of him and liked him so much that they offered him an AHL deal.
–> Nick D’Agostino found a home. Remember him? He was arguably, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen here in Wilkes-Barre during the slew of callups to Pittsburgh. His non-tender of a qualifying offer by Pittsburgh this past summer (he was a restricted free agent) came as a shock to me. He signed with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL today. If they name sounds familiar to you, they are the team that is the ECHL affiliate of none other than the Hershey Bears. Now D’Agostino signed an ECHL deal, meaning that he would need to sign an AHL deal with Hershey to play for them. Not saying that he would, but he could.
Goaltender Eric Hartzell remains the only member of last years team that remains unsigned.
That’s about it. Pittsburgh is in the midst of an eight game exhibition schedule. The hope here is not who wins or loses, it’s that no one gets hurt.
More later this week when the first round of cuts come down from Pittsburgh and when Wilkes-Barre announces a training camp roster.
The moment we have all been waiting for is nearly here. It was announced today that the 2015-16 AHL playing scheduled will be released Thursday at 1 p.m. I’ll have a full dissection of the schedule of opponents the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will face starting in October here on the blog Thursday afternoon. Same workup as prior years with a question and answer session. If I think of any new wrinkles between now and then I will work them in. Fun times ahead.
Elsewhere, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Tom Sestito to a professional tryout agreement. Sestito is a journeyman and part of a dying breed of one trick ponies who know nothing other than how to fight. You can take this news any which way you like. A protector for Sidney Crosby / Evgeni Malkin / Phil Kessel, or Daniel Carcillo redux. As you recall, Pittsburgh signed Carcillo to a similar professional tryout agreement last year before releasing him. Carcillo later signed on with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that won the Stanley Cup last year. What I don’t see is Sestito a replacement for the currently unsigned Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond here in Wilkes-Barre. Sestito I don’t think is willing to settle for the AHL, as evidenced last season when his prior team, Vancouver, tried to send him to their AHL affiliate Utica. He refused and Vancouver sent him home. I think Sestito comes in with the intention of making the Pittsburgh roster and if not, he packs his bags and heads in another direction.
Pittsburgh also announced Tuesday the roster for the rookie tournament. Notable names like Derrick Pouliot, Bryan Rust, J-S Dea, Connor Sheary and Anton Zlobin are among the participants who will face off against the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Senators prospects in London, Ontario in September.
In other minor league hockey news, the Greenville Road Warriors are no more in the ECHL. Instead, they reincarnated as the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. No, I am not joking. Link to the official news from the ECHL here. Yes, the logo includes an angry rabbit holding a carrot that is also being used as a hockey stick. The Wheeling Nailers will face off against the Swamp Rabbits just once this upcoming season, February 26 in Wheeling.
Check back tomorrow for full dissection on the Penguins schedule Thursday afternoon. Hockey season will be here before you know it.
We have a second round opponent.
It’s the Manchester Monarchs, winners 5-3 in the deciding Game 5 against the Portland Pirates. I took the game in on AHL Live. Here’s the thumbnail summary….
Manchester scored twice in the first two minutes of the first and third period to ice the game away. They have scored first in the first two minutes at home in all three home games against the Pirates.
Portland had the better of the chances in the first period I thought, despite getting out shot 17-8 in the first period.
Portland had one shout on goal in the first half of the second period and Manchester went up 3-0, then the Monarchs imploded and the Pirates got three quickly, at the midway point in the second, with about five minutes left and with 0.5 seconds left in the second for a 3-3 score heading into the third.
Manchester scored twice in the opening 1:36 and Portland didn’t have another comeback in them.
Here is your schedule for the Eastern Conference Semifinals…
Eastern Conference Semifinals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 4-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Wed., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 2 – Thu., May 7 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Sat., May 9 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Mon., May 11 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May 12 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 15 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., May 16 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
You can check it out for yourself here. You can also see the Hershey and Hartford series as well and note that the Wolf Pack will play two games at the home of the Worcester Sharks because the circus is in town in Hartford.
Lots to break down here. Pens were 1-3 against the Monarchs this season. That one win was the Matt Murray shutout of the Monarchs en route to his shutout streak record. What I saw out of Manchester is that they play fast and loose game, really quick, which has been their modus operandi all season. Portland at times gave them difficulty in this particular game that I watched tonight and did run the Monarchs to the brink of elimination to the final period of the final game. What does it mean going forward? Stay tuned.
Pens practiced at Coal Street today since sweeping the Crunch. Bryan Rust and Nick Drazenovic both practiced in full and are possibilities for Round 2.
I updated the Postseason chart page to include the Monarchs production in their five game series win against the Portland Pirates. Check that out here. I am debating doing an overall chart, like you normally see, then a chart for the series itself. I’ll welcome any input thrown my way.
Let’s Go Pens!!!
With Wilkes-Barre off tonight, I watched a bunch of AHL acton tonight. I even had Wheeling on ECHL.tv on a side screen. Anyway, here’s the important games that matter to the Penguins this weekend….
Albany scores three unanswered goals in the third period and stun the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-2 in Allentown. It was the Devils second straight win after trailing after two periods and just the Phantoms third regulation loss at home. The Phantoms burn one of their games in hand on the Penguins and Bears tonight. They now have three on Wilkes-Barre and one on Hershey.
Speaking of the Hershey Bears, they were off tonight and host the Devils tomorrow night. Lehigh Valley gets Binghamton tomorrow at home. The B-Sens throttled the Syracuse Crunch 5-0 at home tonight, buoyed by a first period blitzkrieg that saw the B-Sens score four goals.
The Worcester Sharks have won five straight games after a 5-4 shootout win at home against the Manchester Monarchs. The Sharks have won two games against the Monarchs this week and host the Penguins tomorrow. The Sharks battled back from a 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against a Manchester team that has pretty much been the class of the Eastern Conference all season long.
The P-Bruins, the Penguins Sunday opponent, beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at home 3-2 in overtime. Providence snaps a five game losing streak. Providence travels to Manchester Saturday.
Eric Hartzell stops 32 of 34 and the Wheeling Nailers win their first ever game on Canadian soil with a 5-2 win over the Brampton Beast tonight. The teams rematch again tomorrow and Sunday in Ontario.
You never see me mention Pittsburgh scores here, because there are literally a thousand Pittsbugh Penguins blogs out there, but since I had it on in the background of the computer tonight, it’s worth a mention that the Penguins lost to the Islanders 6-3. Kyle Okposo had four goals for the Islanders. Boxscore here. How nice it must be to have ice time stats and face off percentages. Maybe someday here in the AHL.
No change to the top of the East Division standings tonight. The Penguins lead with 44 points. Hershey has 43 and Lehigh Valley has 41.
Gameday for the Worcester setup hits the blog at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
So here is what I expect to happen this week…
I blog now about the lack of news on Coal Street (the end of June isn’t exactly the best time for blog clicks) and how there hasn’t been a single Penguin to bolt for overseas and a bunch of other AHL news and comings and goings.
Watch, this week, we will have our first defection. Or not, who knows.
Anyway, there isn’t much out there, but while you are here….
— Pittsburgh still doesn’t have a coach and it doesn’t look like John Hynes will get the job.
— Norfolk needs a new bench boss as Trent Yawney was promoted to Anaheim. This leaves Norfolk and Hershey both looking for head coaches for the Fall in the East Division as it stands now. Lehigh Valley is a lock to join the East come November, but nothing has been finalized on that front yet.
I advocated strongly for Hynes to get the Pittsburgh job, but now want him to stay.
— The following is week old news, but Pittsburgh does plan to qualify restricted Free Agents Bobby Farnham, Brandon Sutter, Jayson Megna, Philip Samuelsson and Simon Despres. Whether one or all re-sign with Pittsburgh remains to be seen.
— It cost the St. John’s IceCaps a ton to lose in five games to the Texas Stars in the Calder Cup Finals. No, literally.
— Developing Penguin Killer Dustin Gazley re-upped with Hershey.
— Wheeling and Pittsburgh already have their schedules for next year. On Wheeling, and the ECHL, they announced divisional realignment and a bunch of other things including hybrid icing Tuesday.
— NHL Draft is this weekend from Philadelphia and Free Agency starts July 1.
On the draft, I’ll have a recap of who Pittsburgh drafted probably this weekend. My “recap” is basically links to those who have heard of the players selected. On Free Agency, I haven’t decided what I am going to do for that, probably a live blog of sorts like I have in years past along with blog updates as long as long as the situation warrants.
See you tomorrow when the first Penguin bolts overseas to Yikhalvisk Nihmkahbortchalfski of the Borat League because I jinxed it.