Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: WBS

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.

Filling Out the Fourth Line – Pens Re-Sign Jarrett Burton

In keeping up with the news cycle this week, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins announced that they have re-signed Jarrett Burton for the 2016-17 campaign.

Burton is one of those players that has had a lot of success in the ECHL. Nearly a point a game player with the Wheeling Nailers last season, Burton had four game winning goals for Wheeling in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

I know that it may be hard to get excited about the signings of Jarrett Burton and Patrick McGrath this week, a total combined three points between each at the AHL level, given what the likes of Lehigh Valley brought in (T.J. Brennan and Andy Miele) and Hershey (re-signing Ryan Bourque) did this past summer, and I can’t blame you if you are underwhelmed by the offseason signings by the Penguins this season.

Wilkes-Barre has scoring threats in Tom Kostopoulos, Carter Rowney, Jake Guentzel and Dominik Simon. I think that Oskar Sundqvist pushes for full time NHL work next season. Same for Scott Wilson. Yes, Pittsburgh re-signed Kevin Porter, but don’t expect him to be in a Wilkes-Barre uniform anytime soon. Jean-Sebastian Dea and Josh Archibald better come to camp and ready to kick ass because these are make or break years for both. Garrett Wilson is a big unknown. I didn’t consider him for the AHL Big Board because I considered him graduated. If he doesn’t stick in Pittsburgh and makes it to Wilkes-Barre, he will contribute.

You are then left with Sahir Gill, Adam Krause, Tom Sestito and Patrick McGrath. Maybe Gill and Krause are the next Carter Rowney and will break out. Sestito and McGrath are too one-dimensional and you know what they are going to do when they step on the ice.

On the flip side, you have the defense, which is probably the deepest in the Atlantic Division and two goaltenders which will likely be trying to one up the other. Good problem to have?

Tell me what you think in the comments.

Out the door, on Wednesday the Penguins announced what their warmup jerseys will look like. You can take a look at these here.

If Monday was primary jerseys, Tuesday a player signing, Wednesday a jersey and today a player signing, consider Friday a jersey announcement. Probably the alternate. That’s just me guessing though, so stay tuned.

Pens Re-Sign Patrick McGrath 8/9

In keeping with keeping their name in the news cycle during the middle of August, there was more news out of Coal Street Tuesday.

They re-signed Forward Patrick McGrath.

McGrath is a Shavertown native known more for his fists than anything else. With the AHL cracking down on staged fights and fighting in general, the McGrath signing adds toughness to the Penguins lineup.

If you are expecting a big splash name in AHL free agency this week with this parade of news so far from the Penguins, prepare yourself to be underwhelmed….

We’ll see. We aren’t even at Wednesday yet. The 2016 Offseason Moves List has already been updated.

Stay tuned.

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.


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