Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: WBS

Lights! Camera! Shutouts!


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Dueling shutouts by both goaltenders and back to back shutouts by Casey DeSmith, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win 1-0 Wednesday night against Hershey.

The Penguins have not allowed any goals to be scored at all under this new LED lighting system. I don’t know if it’s just a matter of happenstance, something or nothing, but it’s one thing to get a shutout, it’s another to get back to back ones.

Stefan Noesen’s slap shot goal in the top of the first in the shootout round was the only goal to pierce the goal line all night and the Penguins take the game and third place in the division.

Casey DeSmith opposed Pheonix Copley.


Lineup Notes: Thomas DiPauli returned from injury and replaced Justin Almeida. No other changes from Saturday against Syracuse.

First Period: Pens came out flying, outshooting Hershey 8-1 at one point. Hershey had two consecutive power plays, regained some of the momentum but then the Pens took it back and outshot the Bears 14-5 in the period. No one scored, though.

Second Period: Same as the first. Momentum flipped a bit, Bears hot, then the Pens and then the Bears. If I was writing this paragraph from a scratch post instead of in the second intermission, it would have instead read, “After a scoreless first and second period where a bunch of nothing or almost happened goal wise…”

Third Period: Same as the first and second. No power plays here. Back and forth, but off to…

Overtime: Pens had a three on one and flubbed a shot. Andrew Agozzino had a breakaway and had a bad shot. No. One. Was. Scoring.

Shootout: Stefan Noesen scored on a slap shot in the top of the first, everyone else missed. Casey DeSmith doesn’t allow goals even in gimmick shootout rounds.

Three Stars: 3) Pheonix Copley (29 save shutout) 2) Stefan Noesen (shootout goal) 1) Casey DeSmith (28 save shutout)

The Good: Defense looked great last weekend. It looked downright stingy tonight against Hershey and all of that offense.

The Bad: Would rather the OT or regulation win, but this category after a game like this is nitpicking.

Turning Point: Noesen’s goal in the shootout gave the Pens the 1-0 lead that, ultimately won them the contest.

Around the Division: Only other action today was a kids day game in Springfield between the Thunderbirds and Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Springfield wins 2-1 and are the third AHL team, second in the division behind Hartford, to win ten games. Certainly unexpected. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Hartford 24 – Springfield 20 – Penguins 18 – Providence 18 – Hershey 18 – Lehigh Valley 16 – Charlotte 12 – Bridgeport 11

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: Brief. Bears had em first. Here they are:

Back at it Friday against Springfield. Gameday setup for that will be at 3 Friday. Power Rankings Thursday at 11 first.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: vs. Hershey 11/13


Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Saturday at home against Syracuse, the Pens won 2-0. Zach Trotman scored a third period shorthanded goal and Casey DeSmith posted a 35 save shutout. For Hershey, the Bears won a shootout Sunday ta home against Lehigh Valley 3-2. Mike Sgarbossa scored a highlight reel goal in the top of the fourth round. Vitek Vanecek stopped all four Phantoms shooters and had 25 saves in the game.

Last Meeting: October 13 in Hershey, the Bears posted a 5-1 win. Niclas Almari scored a garbage time power play goal to spoil Pheonix Copley’s shutout bid. Hershey scored twice on the power play and Travis Boyd had two goals and an assist.

Record: For WBS: 7-5-1-1 (16 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For HER: 7-5-2-1 (17 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Beau Halkidis / Peter Schlittenhardt

Linesmen: Tyler Loftus / Luke Muuary

Why You Should Care: Two different teams since the last meeting. The Penguins penalty killing unit isn’t a punchline to a joke anymore and Wilkes-Barre has clamped down defensively and only allowed one goal in the last two games. Should be an interesting setup with the dynamic forward group the Bears boast here on a Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Promotion(s): None.

Other Game to Watch: Belleville heads to Laval in a battle of two very improved teams in the North Division.

Next Five Games: vs. SPR 11/15, vs. LV 11/16, @ SPR 11/22, vs. CHA 11/23, vs. LV 11/27

Stat Board Update / Mailbag

I updated the Big Stat Board through November 9, 2019 vs. Syracuse. You can link to that here or just click into the menu bar at the top of the blog to be taken there.

Some notes:

– How critical is Zach Trotman right now for the Penguins? Wilkes-Barre’s defense was a mess before his arrival, but now have allowed just one goal in two games against some offensively explosive AHL teams.

– No surprise that Jon Lizotte, Trotman’s defensive partner last night, is right at the top of the board in Even Strength Goals For (ESGF) percentage for defenseman. Lizotte has been far and away the best Penguins defenseman so far into the season and an argument can be made that he’s the most consistent Penguins rookie as well.

– For forwards, no surprises. Adam Johnson, Stefan Noesen and Andrew Agozzino are the best at overall goals for (GF) average. All are over 60%. Johnson is at 75% in a small sample size.

– I think the market will correct itself on all of the sub-50% ESGF’s, which is more than half the team when you factor out the injured or recalled guys. I want more from Joseph Blandisi (28.57) Anthony Angello (28.57) and Jake Lucchini (42.11) – again, I think the market will correct itself as it goes, but Blandisi is a legitimate NHL recall option, Angello is in his second year and Lucchini doesn’t want to carry a tag of a guy who doesn’t play defense.

– David Warsofsky has the worst numbers at even strength with a 23.81% or five goals on and 16 against. That frankly needs to change, quickly. If you are advocating for a scratch, well he’s the captain and his power play numbers (9 on, 3 against) are too good to take out. The purest definition of risk / reward if there ever was one. Warsofsky is also third on the team in points, so you have to take the good with the bad and again, I firmly believe that there will be a regression to the mean and his even strength numbers will improve.

Take a look, let me know what you think about that and whatever other general questions you may have on the team in this edition of the Mailbag. Get your questions in and I’ll answer them Tuesday for you.

This mailbag is closed and your questions were answered here.

DeSmith With DeShutout — Pens WIN 2-0


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Here’s a telling little nugget dropped on Twitter by Pens play by play man Nick Hart after the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins 2-0 win over Syracuse Saturday night.

So the defense, which we have kind of singled out as a bit of an early problem, has a bit of of a course correction as the Penguins sweep the weekend and pick up a maximum of four points to remain in contention in the Atlantic.

However, this was all Casey DeSmith tonight. The Penguins didn’t really give him a lot of run support tonight nor Friday night with Dustin Tokarski in Utica, but when you are scoring more goals than your opponent, it doesn’t really make a difference if it’s 2-1 or 1-0.

Syracuse outshot the Penguins 35-22 tonight and went 0-for-6 on the power play. DeSmith dazzled in goal, stopping a few 2-on-1 rushes and was generally dialed in from the drop. Sometimes you can tell early on if a goalie has it, and DeSmith definitely did, picking up his first shutout of the season.

He opposed Spencer Martin.

Lines were…

Syracuse didn’t post any lines that I saw through their platforms.

Lineup Notes: Essentially Andreas Martinsen for Ryan Haggerty vet for vet, Jon Lizotte was back in from injury for Matt Abt.

First Period: Andrew Agozzino got one to go with a weird play where he had a puck deflect off of him and then off of a Crunch defender that went in for a 1-0 Wilkes-Barre lead.

The new LED light system slaps, by the way. 100% better than the old sodium lights they had.

Penguins would go on to outshoot Syracuse 13-11 in the first, but would only muster nine more shots the rest of the way, six in the second and three in the third.

Second Period: Felt at the time that this was Syracuse’s big push period. Syracuse just likes to play run and gun and if you are a slow team or aren’t ready for that transition out of nowhere style, you’ll get buried quick. DeSmith was dialed in. Example:

Wilkes-Barre would see Sam Miletic leave after a nasty hit along the boards by Dominik Masin. Masin would receive a five minute major for boarding which carries an automatic match penalty.

Here’s the excerpt from the AHL Rulebook on the subject of a major penalty for boarding:

41.4 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by boarding.

41.6 Fines and Suspensions – Refer to Rule 23.6 – Fines and Suspensions – Physical Fouls Category.

When a major penalty is imposed under this rule, an automatic fine of one hundred dollars ($100) shall be imposed.

When a major penalty and a game misconduct is assessed for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, an automatic fine of two hundred dollars ($200) shall be imposed.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the President at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).

So Masin could be looking at a suspension if warranted. Normally, you’ll only see that if a player is indeed injured. Miletic was held out of the rest of the game because he went face first into the boards and will need to go into the protocol for concussions. The Crunch are back in action Monday in Utica, so Masin could miss that game on a suspension. He may get a game regardless of how bad Miletic is injured anyway.

Third Period: This was all about Stefan Noesen taking penalty after penalty and the Penguins killing said penalty after penalty and DeSmith making save after save.

Noesen ended up with 21 penalty minutes. Ten of those were answering to the hit on Miletic, but you can’t really afford to have the AHL’s leading goal scorer cutting ruts to the penalty box when you are in a close game with an offensively potent team like Syracuse.

Penguins would get breathing room when Zach Trotman blasted one home while the Penguins were shorthanded.

Syracuse, with time running out, pulled Martin for an extra attacker yet were never able to score.

Three Stars: 3) Zach Trotman (goal) 2) Andrew Agozzino (goal, assist) and 1) Casey DeSmith (35 save shutout)

The Good: The penalty kill is really something to behold. The Penguins were better shorthanded tonight than Syracuse on the man advantage if that makes sense. Seems like Syracuse was chasing the game and taking too many chances while the Pens sat back and took what was given.

The Bad: Too many penalties by Stefan Noesen. There’s playing aggressive and playing reckless. Two penalties in the third period while the score was still 1-0 is inexcusable for a veteran player like Noesen. John Hynes would have benched him. Mike Vellucci should have too.

Turning Point: Trotman’s shorthanded goal in the third gave the Penguins a valley of breathing room and proved to be insurmountable for the Crunch to overcome.

Around the Division: Springfield beats Charlotte 4-3 in overtime in an up and down game….Providence runs over Bridgeport 4-1….Lehigh Valley beats Hershey 3-2 in overtime….Belleville takes down Hartford 4-3 in a shootout. The Wolf Pack continue to pile up points like the squirrels in your back yard are storing away nuts for the winter.

Standings: Hartford 22 — Providence and Springfield 18 — Lehigh Valley and the Penguins 16 — Hershey 15 — Charlotte 12 and Bridgeport 9.

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose in Reading 6-4. Jan Drozg had a goal and an assist. He may be headed here if Miletic is too banged up to go, the Pens have a vet problem and can’t just plug in Cramarossa or Haggerty.

Video Highlights: Went up before me. I’m late!

I’ll have a refresh of the charts Sunday afternoon and may, depending on when I get my walk in and if it’s before the MLS Cup final between Toronto and Seattle, open up the Mailbag a day early heading into a busy week. Drop by the blog Sunday anyway.

Let’s Go Pens!


Another close one. This time, no comeback needed because Casey DeSmith was dialed in and stopped all 35 Syracuse shots sent his way. Pens win 2-0 off goals from Andrew Agozzino in the first and a shorthanded goal as Syracuse was pressing in the third by Zach Trotman.

Lots more in a bit.

GAMEDAY: vs. Syracuse 11/9


Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Utica, the Pens got two late goals :34 apart by Zach Trotman and Jordy Bellerive and defeated the Comets 2-1. Dustin Tokarski stopped 22 shots en route to his first win as a Penguin. For Syracuse, the Crunch hosted the Belleville Senators and won in overtime 4-3. Alex Barre-Boulet scored a pair of goals for the Crunch in the win.

Record: For WBS: 6-5-1-1 (14 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For SYR: 6-3-2-0 (14 pts., 6th place North Division)

Referees: Conor O’Donnell / Brandon Schrader

Linesmen: Jud Ritter / Tyler Loftus

Why You Should Care: Two teams with nearly identical records face off tonight in Wilkes-Barre. The highly potent offense of the Syracuse Crunch will be a good test for a Penguins team that really bottled up the Comets last night in Utica. Should be a fun one tonight.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Promotion(s): STRANGER THINGS / 80s NIGHT — November kicks off with a little retro fun in the upside down world, as we throw it back for Stranger Things/80s Night.  Dress up as your favorite characters from the Netflix phenomenon to take part in our costume contest and other in-stand events during the evening.  Plus enjoy the sounds of synths and keytars all night long with a rad selection of 80s tunes.*

Other Game to Watch: The Ontario Reign are off to a good start and are in Des Moines taking on the Wild in a nice early inter-divisional matchup against two really good teams.

Next Five Games: vs. HER 11/13, vs. SPR 11/15, vs. LV 11/16, @ SPR 11/22, vs. CHA 11/23

* – promo information courtesy of

Tic-Tock, Bells Trot — Pens WIN 2-1


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A lesson in patience Friday night in Utica for the WIlkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

After a masterful performance in goal by Dustin Tokarski would appear to be for naught, the Penguins pick up two goals in the span of :34 seconds and beat the Utica Comets 2-1.

Tokarski was beat in the first minute of the game by what was essentially an own goal by Macoy Erkamps. The Penguins as a team looked okay from there on out, but could not crack Comets goalie Michael DiPietro at all in the first or second periods.

Finally, Zach Trotman’s power play goal with about six minutes left to play in the third period tied the game for the Penguins and then later Trotman’s shot was deflected by Jordy Bellerive for a goal that gave the Penguins the lead for good.

It was a very solid performance by the team tonight and one that they will be looking to build on. Utica came into tonight second overall in the AHL in offense but was shutout in two games last weekend by Providence and Rochester and only scored two goals in Binghamton on Wednesday. What was the last undefeated team in the AHL has not lost four straight and are reeling.

What I am trying to say is, with all due respect to the opponent, it would have been a shame if the Penguins lost this game.

Here’s how they lined up on both sides tonight:

Zane McIntyre backed up DiPietro for Utica, not Richard Bachman.

Lineup Notes: Niclas Almari picked up what’s being described as a, “middle body injury” so Justin Almeida slotted in up front and but for Almari, went with the same defensive unit they did on Wednesday. Ryan Haggerty stayed in the lineup over other vets Joseph Cramarossa and Andreas Martinsen. Emil Larmi was cleared medically and was a healthy scratch.

First Period: I’ll let my opening tweets speak for themselves here.

It was actually a Macoy Erkamps own goal to my eyes.

Erkamps looks like he wanted to pass it back to Tokarski to cover and, well, that happened.

Wilkes-Barre settled down a bit after that, but it could have been a false front on the basis that they had two power plays but failed to cash. Shots were 12-8 Penguins heading into the…

Second Period: Benign period. Pens opened with a power play, then the teams were four on four for an odd concurrent delay of game penalty then the Penguins had to kill a power play late. Both goalies remained sharp.

Third Period: Tokarski continued to be sharp and dialed in stopping a shot / pass from Tyler Graovac to Brogan Rafferty that was a good play but not enough to add on to the Comets lead. Later, Josh Teves was caught holding with 6:20 left to play in regulation and Zach Trotman connected for this goal that leveled the score line:

Homemade videos tonight. Glad it wasn’t a five goal affair.

:34 later, Trotman stayed on and fired a shot which was deflected for a goal by Jordy Bellerive that put the Penguins out front 2-1.

With the way that Tokarski was dialed in, all the Penguins needed to do was stay the course which they did and they picked up their first regulation win since October 16 at home against Binghamton.

Three Stars: 3) Mitch Eliot (goal) 2) Zach Trotman (goal, assist) and 1) Jordy Bellerive (game winning goal)

The Good: Obviously the power play came through tonight, because that would have been, “the bad” otherwise had the Penguins not won considering they had four opportunities. Honorable mention to Tokarski, who was dialed in and really should have had a shutout but for the Erkamps gaffe.

The Bad: Whenever the opponent scores just one goal its seen as nitpicking, but that Erkamps gaffe in the first could have been a costly error and a one way ticket out of town.

Turning Point: You don’t need me to say it but I will, the power play goal by Trotman finally broke the wall down for the Penguins in a game where they pressed all night and then Bellerive’s goal shocked the Comets right out of the building.

Around the Division: In the game to watch tonight in Hartford, the Wolf Pack defeat the Hershey Bears in regulation 2-1 to stay hot and at the top of the Atlantic….Charlotte did the same to Springfield 2-1. Lehigh Valley, Providence and Bridgeport had the night off.

Standings: Hartford 21 — Providence and Springfield 16 — Lehigh Valley, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre 14 — Charlotte 11 — Bridgeport 9

Wheeling Update: Make it five wins in a row for the Nailers, who pick up a 4-1 win over the Reading Royals. Ryan Scarfo had a pair of goals. Alex D’Orio picked up the win.

Video Highlights: If Utica posts em, I’ll run an edit. If Wilkes-Barre does the same, I’ll still run the edit.

Pens bus home for a home game Saturday night against Syracuse, the Crunch’s first and only visit this season. If you come to the game Saturday and notice something different, it isn’t your eyes…

Can’t wait to see what it looks like in person Saturday. Gameday setup here on the blog at 3 Saturday afternoon.

Let’s Go Pens!