Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: WBS

GAMEDAY: vs. Utica 2/16

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Who: Utica Comets

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday in Hershey, the Pens took a 2-1 lead into the third period but were bested by the Bears 4-3 in a shootout loss. Ryan Haggerty had a goal and an assist in the loss. For Utica, the Comets hosted the Laval Rocket on Wednesday and won 4-1. Ex-Penguin Michael Leighton stopped 20 of 21 shots to pick up the win.

Record: For WBS: 24-21-4-2 (54 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For UTI: 27-19-4-2 (60 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Referees: Tim Mayer / Peter Schlittenhardt

Linesmen: Matt McNulty / Luke Murray

Why You Should Care: Pens need wins but don’t expect Utica to come in and just give it to them. The Comets are fight to hold on to their playoff spot in a very competitive North Division and are pushing for first place. Both teams are well rested having not played tonight, so it should be a very good, competitive hockey game tonight in front of a packed audience.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Promotion(s): METLIFE PRESENTS MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT — Help us pay tribute to the men and women who keep our country safe.  There will be military displays courtesy of the Tobyhanna Army Depot, and the Penguins will be wearing their special camouflage jerseys, which will be auctioned off during the game.*

Tonight is also the Penguins blanket giveaway for season ticket members. Don’t forget your vouchers!

Other Game to Watch: Hershey and Lehigh Valley start their mini two game series tonight in Hershey. Best outcome from a Penguin perspective is a split, since both teams are at or near fourth place.

Next Five Games: @ HFD 2/17, vs. HER 2/22, vs. RFD 2/24, @ PRO 3/1, @ HFD 3/2

* – Promotion information provided from wbspenguins.com/promo-schedule

Shootout in the Chocolate Factory — Pens LOSE 4-3 (SO)

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In an important game for both teams currently sitting out of a playoff spot in a midweek in February, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins stood toe to toe with the Hershey Bears.

Ever the championship opponent that they are, the Hershey Bears stood right back.

Bears take this one in a shootout. If I didn’t write these road games on the fly after the intermissions, I would just start at the third period and go from there.

Ah, hell, let’s do it anyway.

After the Penguins took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission, the Hershey Bears faced a deficit in the third period and only one time before after trailing after two periods.

Tristan Jarry goes out to play a puck, and with visions of Mike Sgarbossa scoring on an empty net the last time Tristan Jarry tried that move in this rink, the Pens caught a small break and avoided the embarrassment of having a goal scored in a wide open net with the goaltender nowhere to be located but still on the ice.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The Penguins chased, panicked, took a penalty and on the delayed call Tyler Lewington scored to tie the game.

The Penguins responded immediately with Ryan Haggerty throwing a puck at the net trying to find teammate Ryan Scarfo for a back door tap in goal. Only the puck hit the skate of Brian Pinho and deflected into his own net to give the Penguins the lead.

Adam Johnson was not able to score on a penalty shot where he was slashed by Lewington. That would have made it 4-2 and would have changed the entire complexion of the game.

Later, Haggerty, who ended up having a very eventful period, was tagged for a very soft tripping call out of a face-off that put the Penguins on the penalty kill. Jayson Megna, playing in his 400th professional game, would score a power play goal for Hershey on a double deflection on an Aaron Ness shot from the point that made it 3-3.

That forced overtime, where Adam Johnson hit the post. Sam Miletic and Zach Trotman ran into each other. No one would score but it was end to end action.

Riley Barber and Nathan Walker would score in the shootout. Sam Miletic and Jimmy Hayes would not. Penguins lose 4-3.

Tristan Jarry opposed Vitek Vanecek.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Anthony Angello slid to fourth line center, Jimmy Hayes went back in for Linus Ölund on the fourth line and Macoy Erkamps went in for Tim Erixon on defense. John Muse backed up Tristan Jarry. The Penguins reassigned Cam Brown and Kevin Spinozzi on Tuesday. Thomas DiPauli is still week to week and Jeff Taylor is upgraded to day to day. I saw picture of him on the Pens social media of him practicing in a red no contact sweater.

First Period: Jarry was called into duty quickly, stopping Mike Sgarbossa in the games opening sequences.

Vitek Vanecek responded with a nice stop on a deflection by Jimmy Hayes.

Hershey would get on the board first with a goal by Nathan Walker from the top of the slot.

That goal snapped the Penguins to attention because they took the period over from there. They scored on their only power play of the period with this goal by Kevin Czuczman that tied the game at one.

Jarrett Burton may have deflected the puck in front there. They Penguins won a puck battle and kept the puck in.

I counted just two shots on goal on Jarry after Walker’s goal. The Penguins had a stranglehold on possession an outshot the Bears 14-4 heading into the…

Second Period: Period remained a closely contested affair. Pens had two power plays but didn’t capitalize. Hershey had some better looks in the period but Tristan Jarry turned them all away.

Jimmy Hayes had a breakaway in the first period but couldn’t score. He found himself on another in the second and would have been chased down had he tried to advance closer towards the goal so he did this instead:

If you can’t beat them with speed, use an old school windmill type slap shot goal and blow away the opposing goaltender to give your team a lead on the road against an opponent that hasn’t lost in regulation in over a month. Superb goal.

Third Period: Gave it to you in the lede.

Overtime: I Periscope these when I am not at the games. Here is the entire overtime and shootout for you if you want to sit through 10 plus minutes of camera shake. One day I’ll get a professional setup and just put an iPad on a table and position it towards the TV and walk away. Today wasn’t the day.

The Good: As mentioned in the open, the Penguins stood toe to toe with a division rival in a tightly contested affair.

The Bad: I don’t think anything was figured out here. It’s going to be a very interesting finish.

Turning Point: Adam Johnson’s miss on the penalty shot in the third period would have given Wilkes-Barre a two goal lead with 9:57 to play. Instead, the referees get Haggerty for an awful tripping call and Hershey ties it on the ensuing power play.

Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Hartford beats Toronto 3-2. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Charlotte 71 — Bridgeport 62 — Providence 59 — Lehigh Valley 57 — Hershey 57 — Penguins 54 — Springfield 52 — Hartford 48

Wheeling Update: Cam Brown and Kevin Spinozzi with an immediate impact in their returns, scoring in a 5-2 win over Reading.

Video Highlights: 

Pens are off Friday; check out the Week 19 AHL Power Rankings Thursday.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Hershey 2/13

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Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Giant Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

Last Game: Saturday in Grand Rapids, the Pens lost 4-1. Sam Miletic scored the only goal for the Pens in the loss. For Hershey, the Bears beat the Charlotte Checkers in Hershey Sunday 2-1. Riley Barber and Jayson Megna scored goals for the Bears and Ilya Samsonov stopped 29 of 30 shots in net.

Last Meeting: January 19 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens lost 5-3. Hershey scored three of their goals on the power play and even one shorthanded. Adam Johnson had two goals for the Penguins in defeat.

Record: For WBS: 24-21-4-1 (53 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For HER: 26-20-0-3 (55 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Peter MacDougall / Mike Dietrich

Linesmen: Bill Lyons / Tom DellaFranco

Why You Should Care: Probably the biggest game of the season for the Penguins facing off on the road against a Hershey team that has a twelve game point streak coming into tonight. Only two points separate these fierce rivals on the outside of the playoff picture currently. Wilkes-Barre needs to match the intensity that Hershey is going to bring in defending their point streak on their home ice. Regardless, it should be a great game tonight in Chocolatetown.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Other Game to Watch: No other games of significance in the Atlantic tonight, so Utica hosts Laval. The Comets are the Penguins next opponent this Saturday back at home.

Next Five Games: vs. UTI 2/16, @ HFD 2/17, vs. HER 2/22, vs. RFD 2/24, @ PRO 3/1

Monday Notes 2/11

Bunch of stuff to get to today, so let’s get after it.

Here is a recap of Sunday afternoon’s action…

Bridgeport beats Utica in overtime 5-4. Pens have two games in hand and see the Sound Tigers two more times.

Providence shuts out what was a rested Syracuse team 4-0. Pens and Bruins are even on games played with 50. They meet three more times.

Lehigh Valley beats Hartford 5-2. That’s a split with the Wolf Pack this weekend. Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley are on same games played and play six more times.

Hershey keeps winning, sweeping Charlotte with a 2-1 win Sunday. That is points in 12 straight for the Bears. Hershey has a game in hand on the Pens and these teams meet just three more times, with one of those games this Wednesday in Hershey.

Wilkes-Barre has three more games with Springfield and two more with Hartford.

Here is a look at the standings through Sunday night:

Charlotte 71
Bridgeport 62
Providence 59
Lehigh Valley 57
—–
Hershey 55
PENGUINS 53
Springfield 52
Hartford 46

So a lot of catching up to do but room to improve with six more matchups with Lehigh Valley. I have a feeling that just one Pennsylvania team is going to make playoffs. No one is going to catch Charlotte and even if they do, I can’t see them falling out of contention entirely. Bridgeport looks OK for now and Providence just had a twelve point run snapped on Saturday, they are good. So it’s really down to Wilkes-Barre, Hershey and Lehigh Valley for the final spot in the playoffs. I don’t see Springfield recovering and you can stick a fork in Hartford.

Monday, some news came out. Troy Josephs was released from his contract to head overseas. He’s the second such Penguins prospect (Freddie Tiffels at the beginning of the season) to bolt overseas. Josephs was more than a point a game player and one of the best players for the Wheeling Nailers.

Josephs had just three assists in 11 contests for the Pens this season. I think that he was long overdue a shot at AHL work given the fact that Wilkes-Barre has an unproductive veteran overage. Surely Josephs could produce at or better than some of the bottom six forwards that Clark Donatelli puts out on a nightly basis? Ask yourself this, Cam Brown has seemed to carve a nice niche here in Wilkes-Barre. No knock against him intended, but I were to ask you at the start of the season who would stick in the AHL between Brown and Josephs, most of you pick Josephs. Is is coachability? Attitude? Something else I am missing?

That, with Freddie Tiffels bolting before the season really got going, doesn’t set the best look.

I am not ready to have discussions over a debate about coaching vs. general manager yet. I will say this, there is a price that the Pittsburgh Penguins paid to win back to back Stanley Cups. It is starting to slowly erode and the first place it is felt is through the minor league system.

And there is nothing wrong with that per se, provided it pays off for you and it has mightily for the Penguins in the last three seasons.

One other piece of news for this Monday, in the form of a trade!

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired right handed defenseman Blake Siebenaler from the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday for a conditional seventh round pick. Siebenaler will report to Wilkes-Barre. He has 17 games played this season for the Cleveland Monsters with a goal and an assist and a -11 rating. Professionally, Siebenaler is a -31 in three seasons for Cleveland with a total of seven goals, seven assists, including this season. He’s been injured for the Monsters and Cleveland hasn’t been the best AHL team overall in the last three years since winning the Calder Cup in 2015-16, so maybe a change in scenery will do well for him.

Scouting reports based off of what I have seen on Twitter include the following:

I also saw on Twitter that Siebenaler was a fan favorite in Cleveland and a very passionate player. He has a very hard shot from the blue line also.

The condition on the pick? Siebenaler would have to play in 10 NHL games for Pittsburgh and Columbus would get a seventh round pick from Pittsburgh. That probably isn’t happening, so it’s a contract dump for Columbus and some help for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, however I would be the first to admit that the Penguins biggest problem isn’t keeping pucks out of their net as much as it is depositing them into the nets of the opponents.

So there you have it. Back here on Wednesday with the Gameday setup against Hershey.

Not So Grand — Pens LOSE 4-1

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The AHL scoreboard tonight was favorable for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins to cut into the deficit they face right now as a non-playoff team.

In a tight contest in Grand Rapids, the Penguins fail to show up for a third period which started 1-1 and lose 4-1 to the Griffins.

Anthony Peters took the loss. While some of the goals he allowed were some real head scratchers, his job is to stop the puck, not score it. The Penguins cannot expect to beat the Central Division leading Grand Rapids Griffins by scoring just one goal.

The Penguins go 1-2 on the Midwestern road trip and head into a Wednesday contest in Hershey with huge implications. The Bears are on an 11 game point streak. More on them in a bit.

Peters opposed Patrik Rybar.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Linus Ölund replaced Cam Brown at 4C, Anthony Angello replaced Jimmy Hayes at 4RW. Tim Erixon replaced Macoy Erkamps on the Chris Summers pairing. The Pittsburgh Penguins reassigned Tristan Jarry to Wilkes-Barre Saturday afternoon.

First Period: Griffins have a lot of offense in their lineup yet are somehow last in the AHL in power play overall. But, their power play at home clicks at just about 20%. Got all that? Good, cause they scored the only goal of the period on said power play. Filip Zadina

Anthony Peters had to stop a Chris Terry penalty shot earlier in the period. The Penguins could not score on a late power play.

Period featured a lot of pace and some feistiness. Shots were 13-12 Griffins.

Second Period: Wilkes-Barre needed to kill a penalty at the beginning of the period and got out of it fine, with Peters making some nice stops to get through it.

Then, the Penguins tied the game on a deflected pass by Ethan Prow that made it to Sam Miletic’s stick and the Penguins rookie backhanded the puck in.

The Penguins and Griffins played a careful second half of the period and the score stayed 1-1 heading into the…

Third Period: The Griffins would score in the first minute of the period when Anthony Peters makes an initial stop on a shot and thinks the puck went right when it went left, right to the stick of Colin Campbell who scored to give the Griffins a 2-1 lead and one that they would not relinquish.

Libor Sulak would score around half way when a shot from the point is stopped again by Peters but no one was in front to clear away Sulak who scored to make it 3-1.

Griffins would add to the lead when Matt Puempel would score on a one time at the top of the near face-off ring on a two man Griffins advantage that made it 4-1 Grand Rapids.

(no goal GIF here, sorry)

Wilkes-Barre had a couple of chances late, but those chances never came to pass.

The Good: Wilkes-Barre played the Central Division leading Grand Rapids Griffins tight for 40 minutes of play.

The Bad: Both teams had a chance to win in the third period, and the Penguins never got out of the starting block and were down 3-1 before they knew what hit them, then Puempel’s power play goal on the two man advantage added insult to injury. The killer instinct just was no where to be found on anyone in a white sweater and it cost them on a night where the out of town scoreboard was kind to the Penguins.

Turning Point: Colin Campbell’s goal :45 into the third period would give the Griffins a lead they would not relinquish, and it held up as the game winning sequence and buried Wilkes-Barre in the process.

Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Hershey’s point streak grows to eleven, beating Charlotte 3-2 in a shootout. The Bears got a late goal from Riley Barber to preserve their eleven game point streak. Providence sees their twelve game point streak end in Bridgeport, losing 4-2. Lehigh Valley lays an egg at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack and lose 2-1. Wolf Pack win for the first time nine games. Springfield’s free fall continues, losing 4-2 in Toronto.

Standings: Charlotte 71 — Bridgeport 60 — Providence 57 — Lehigh Valley 55 — Hershey 53 — Penguins 53 — Springfield 52 — Hartford 46

Wheeling Update: Nailers went to Worcester and won 5-1. Michael Phillips had two goals and an assist. Jordan Ruby stopped 33 of 34 shots. John Muse is probably heading back early next week.

Sunday: Wilkes-Barre will fly home. Hartford and Lehigh Valley rematch in Allentown, so to Charlotte and Hershey, Providence hosts Syracuse; Bridgeport hosts Utica. Springfield is the other team idle.

Maybe I will jump on here and put out a blog post recapping the Sunday action. Stay tuned.

Video Highlights:

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Grand Rapids 2/9

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Who: Grand Rapids Griffins

Where: Van Andel Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Milwaukee, the Penguins won 5-2. Sam Lafferty scored a pair of power play goals and Sam Miletic added a shorthanded goal. John Muse stopped 33 of 35 shots. For Grand Rapids, the Griffins hosted the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday and won 2-1. Filip Kronek provided all the offense for the Griffins with two goals and Harri Sateri stopped 20 of 21 shots. Both Griffins goals were scored on the power play.

Last Meeting: January 4 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens beat Grand Rapids 3-2 in a shootout. Ryan Haggerty had both goals for the Penguins and Joseph Cramarossa had the only goal for the Pens in the shootout round.

Record: For WBS: 24-20-4-1 (53 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division) // For GR: 27-15-3-4 (61 pts., 1st place Central Division)

Referees: Shaun Davis / Jordan Deckard

Linesmen: Pat Richardson / Jim Scarpace

Why You Should Care: Penguins had a good night in Milwaukee Friday but now head to a rested Central Division power in Grand Rapids that is a very good, complete team. These types of teams always bring out the best in Wilkes-Barre, so it should be a good one in the Freezer on Fulton this evening.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is new and improved and a lot cheaper.

Other Game to Watch: Atlantic leader Charlotte travels to Atlantic resurgent Hershey to take on the Bears in a great matchup for both teams.

Next Five Games: @ HER 2/13, vs. UTI 2/16, @ HFD 2/17, vs. HER 2/22, vs. RFD 2/24

Good Sam Club — Pens WIN 5-2

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A good night to be named Sam tonight as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins take down the Milwaukee Admirals 5-2 Friday night in Wisconsin to keep pace with the playoff race in the Atlantic Division.

A pair of power play goals by Sam Lafferty in the first period and a shorthanded goal by Sam Miletic in the second brace the Penguins and make things easy for starting goaltender John Muse.

Muse opposed Troy Grosenick.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: John Muse went in net for the Pens, not Anthony Peters which flummoxed those in tune to the situation at the time.

J-S Dea returned from his two game suspension and Ben Sexton returned from his injury. Anthony Angello and Linus Ölund sat. On defense, Macoy Erkamps took the place of Tim Erixon on the Chris Summers pairing.

The Penguins made a minor trade with the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday afternoon, acquiring rookie forward Trevor Yates in exchange for future considerations. Yates was assigned to the Penguins ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.

First Period: J-S Dea told broadcaster Nick Hart that he wanted his team have a hot start tonight in Milwaukee. He got it. The Penguins blitzkrieged the Admirals off the hop, getting an early power play goal from Sam Lafferty and a goal from the fourth line by Jimmy Hayes. Shots were, at one point, 10-1 favoring the Penguins who were just getting Grade A chance after Grade A chance. The Penguins added a third goal on yet another power play goal scored by Sam Lafferty. John Muse didn’t have to do much in the period, but did manage to stop all eight shots he faced.

Here are the goals starting with Lafferty’s first.

Then the second, on a sky hook clearing attempt by Ethan Prow to the stick of Joseph Cramarossa who makes a move and puts a shot on Grosenick which is stopped, but Jimmy Hayes is right there for the rebound to make it 2-0.

And finally, Sam Lafferty’s second power play goal of the period makes it 3-0. Power move through the Admirals defensemen to roof a backhander over Grosenick and in.

Second Period: Wilkes-Barre gave up four power plays in the period to the Admirals. They were outshot 12-7, but added to their lead and made it 4-0 with Sam Miletic scoring a shorthanded goal.

Not to be outdone, the Admirals scored a shorthanded goal of their own when Anthony Richard drove down the wing and beat Muse to make it 4-1.

Duncan Siemens laid a big hit on Cam Brown and had to fight Matt Abt. Here that sequence is, followed by the shorthanded goals scored by each side.

Here’s Miletic’s goal. Nice pass by Joseph Blandisi set up the goal.

And then Richard’s goal.

Third Period: Quiet period, really. Joseph Blandisi found daylight between he and Grosenick and snuck in a shot that made it 5-1 Penguins.

Then Laurent Dauphin, acquired in a trade earlier in the day with Arizona, tipped in a Duncan Siemens shot from the point that made it 5-2.

But the Admirals didn’t get any closer. No penalties in the third.

Milwaukee would outshoot the Penguins 35-28.

The Good: Dea wanted a strong start and got one. The Penguins were good in Rockford Wednesday and good against Bridgeport last Saturday, the breaks didn’t fall their way. The Penguins made the breaks go their way, almost willing them, in the first period and went up 3-0 and rode Muse when they needed to and took away a big two points.

The Bad: Letting Milwaukee back in to the contest in the second period is muted a bit when you were already up 3-0 to start the period. If the Penguins brought the same killer instinct in the second period, the game would have never been in doubt.

Turning Point: That second power play goal by Lafferty in the first was a highlight reel goal that took all the air out of the sails from the Admirals. They tried to make a game of it, but were too far behind to push for a threat.

Three Stars: 

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley loses in Utica 5-2. Big third period by the Comets took down the previously undefeated after leading after two periods Phantoms…Providence continues its hot run and takes down Bridgeport 2-1. Syracuse shuts out Hartford 6-0 and Springfield was throttled in Rochester 7-1. Hershey and Charlotte were off, they play a doubleheader starting Saturday in Hershey.

Standings: Charlotte 70 — Bridgeport 58 — Providence 57 — Lehigh Valley 55 — Penguins 53 — Springfield 52 — Hershey 51 — Hartford 44

Setting Up Your Saturday: Springfield is in Toronto for a 4 p.m. start against the Marlies. Providence and Bridgeport rematch in Connecticut. Pens travel to Grand Rapids. Hershey and Charlotte meet in Chocolatetown and Lehigh Valley drops by Hartford.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were defeated in overtime 4-3 in Manchester. Troy Josephs had a goal and an assist.

Video Highlights:

Gameday setup for Saturday’s contest against the first place in the Central Division Grand Rapids Griffins hits the blog Saturday at 3 with the game action going live at 7.

Let’s Go Pens!