Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Never Question Quinney — Pens WIN 6-1


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When it was announced during warmups that Zach Aston-Reese was going to be a healthy scratch tonight and that Gage Quinney was going to slot run and make his AHL professional debut, it raised some eyebrows.

Not because of Quinney, mind you, but because Aston-Reese is the higher listed prospect. That he sits in the fourth game of the season for a guy making his AHL debut that has been a professional in the ECHL previously certainly piqued my interest.

Quinney made his presence felt in a big way. A goal and two assists and first star honors, Pens beat Syracuse 6-1 in a laugher.

How about they weekend Casey DeSmith had? Shutout the Phantoms on Friday and only allowed one goal on a five on three power play for Syracuse off the stick of AHL sniper Cory Conacher in the second period. DeSmith has turned away 57 of 58 shots so far and hasn’t given up a goal yet at even strength.

DeSmith opposed Connor Ingram.

Lines were…

Dominik Simon – Adam Johnson – Christian Thomas
Garrett Wilson – Gage Quinney – Daniel Sprong
Freddie Tiffels – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – Thomas Di Pauli

Andrey Pedan – Ethan Prow
Zach Trotman – Kevin Czuczman
Lukas Bengtsson – Frank Corrado

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Ethan Prow for Dylan Zink on defense, Jarrett Burton and Zach Aston-Reese for Freddie Tiffels, making his pro debut and Gage Quinney, making his AHL debut. Zach Trotman, originally a question mark last Monday heading into the week, played all three games.

First Period: :34 in, J-S Dea cleaned up the rebound of a shot by Lukas Bengtsson…

Pens looked like they were going to open the floodgates, but after giving up the first goal to Dea, Ingram settled in and kept his team in the game, denying a shorthanded breakaway by Andrey Pedan and multiple odd-man rushes. Penguins ended the period with 12 shots to Syracuse’s 4.

Second Period: Pens double up on a shot by Daniel Sprong that went in off the skate of Garrett Wilson in slow motion…

And as Taylor mentioned, Sprong’s first professional assist and Gage Quinney’s first pro point in his Penguin debut.

Penguins score a third goal as a power play expired. Thomas DiPauli scored on this deflection of a shot by Blueger….

Wilkes-Barre found itself in a bit of penalty trouble with two penalties that put Syracuse on a 5-on-3. After a time out, Cory Conacher scored from the far dot to ruin Casey DeSmith’s shutout bid….

Penguins kill off the other minor or else things would have really gotten interesting, then Christian Thomas defects in a shot by Zach Trotman to make it 4-1 Penguins and the runaway was on…

Call initially announced as Trotman’s goal then reversed in second intermission.

Mike O’Brien set this next play up on radio. He was mentioning at the time that Daniel Sprong had yet to score in the game to extend his goal scoring streak. Sprong must have heard him because seconds later, he did this…

First even strength goal for Sprong. Neat little thing I picked up after was when Sprong went to the bench for congratulations, the entire team ignored him. He must score too much.

All that was left for was to have Gage Qunney score.

Nice pass from behind the net to the guy in front Blueger who either missed intentionally or knew Quinney was trailing. Either way, nice play.

Video highlights….

Three Stars: 3) Christian Thomas (goal, even) 2) Daniel Sprong (goal, two assists, +3) and 1) Gage Quinney (goal, two assists, +3)

Around the Division: Springfield is still looking or their first win, losers 2-1 to the Toronto Marlies…the Hershey Bears and Lehigh Valley Phantoms needed extra time to decide a winner with the Phantoms taking home the two points in a shootout, 4-3 the score there.

Standings: Phantoms with 7, Charlotte and Hartford with 6, Providence and Wilkes-Barre with 4, Bridgeport with 2, Hershey with 1 and Springfield still has 0.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off, they are on their way home from Greenville, SC after winning both games against the Swamp Rabbits.

Power Rankings for Week 2 are due Monday at 4. Check me out then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Lyon and Payback — Pens LOSE 3-2


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Yes, hockey is a funny game.

Last night, Alex Lyon couldn’t stop a nose bleed and didn’t even finish the game, a 5-0 Penguins win Friday, then comes back Saturday night at home and shuts down the Penguins for most of the game, including a 5:00 stretch of major penalty in the second period and the Penguins lose this one tonight by a score of 3-2.

12 power plays awarded tonight by the whistle of referee Reid Anderson. As I have gotten older I have steered away from the “referees cost the Penguins games” mantra. I mean, if it’s egregious and a referee is ruining the game because he is having a bad night I will call it out, but in this instance, Anderson awarded six power plays a side and the Penguins allowed a power play goal and scored a power play goal and were not able to score on a 5:00 major penalty in the second period. So it is as even as even can get from a perspective of the man in the orange arm band is concerned tonight.

Fact of the matter is, special teams battles are becoming the Achilles heel of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and we are only three games in.

Tristan Jerry opposed Alex Lyon.

Lines were…

Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Daniel Sprong
Dominik Simon – Adam Johnson – Christian Thomas
Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Jarrett Burton – Thomas Di Pauli

Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Zach Trotman – Kevin Czuczman
Dylan Zink – Frank Corrado

Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith

Lineup Notes: There were not any, save for Jarry in goal for DeSmith.

First Period: Penguins had 1:15 of 5-on-3 time that they could not score on. Pens had plenty of chances, but with those chances came open lanes that the Phantoms allowed Lyon to get a look at the puck and make the save.

Phantoms come back and score a goal on the power play. Matt Read knocked this one in to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead…

The Pens had allowed just one goal in 357:08 prior to that goal by Read. Putting that in perspective, 360 minutes is six games.

Second Period: Penguins fall behind 2-0 when Andrey Pedan loses his edge and falls down in the neutral zone giving a 3-on-1 odd mad rush to the Phantoms the other way when Mike Vecchione scores.

T.J. Brennan got thrown out of the game for this cross check on Jarrett Burton….

That drew the ire of Tom Sestito who was nearby and let Brennan know about it….

But the Penguins were unable to score on the 5:00 major penalty. The Penguins had the puck in the zone for a good three minutes. Daniel Sprong hit a post.

Third Period: Phantoms score again on a failed clear by the Penguins. Greg Carey put home a rebound…

Penguins got one back off the stick of Daniel Sprong that made it 3-1…

That gave Sprong three goals in three games. Here is another look…

Some of the comments on the GIF posted by Coal Street were that Sprong’s shot is unfair to the other team. It’s really hard to disagree.

Andrey Pedan, who had an awful game, was called for hooking Danick Martel while Martel was on a breakaway. Reid Anderson awarded a penalty shot to Martel that Jarry made the save on….

Before you start with the, “Jarry sucks, play DeSmith” argument, Nick Hart offers this….

Garrett Wilson scored to pull the Pens to within one with this goal parked in front of Lyon’s crease…

Another look…

The Penguins, with Jarry pulled for an extra attacker, were never able to find the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Alex Lyon (27 saves on 29 shots) 2) matt Read (goal, +1) and 1) Mike Vecchione (goal, +1)

Around the Division: Charlotte exacts some revenge with Bridgeport after the Sound Tigers beat the Checkers Friday with a 3-2 win…Belleville gets their first win of the season beating Hershey in the Bears home opener by a 5-2 score…Utica beats Syracuse 3-2…Toronto beats Providence by the same score and Hartford beats Springfield 4-3.

Standings: Charlotte and Hartford with 6 each, Providence with 4 on percentage over Lehigh Valley with 5, then Penguins and Sound Tigers with two and then Springfield and Hershey with 0.

Wheeling Update: Hunter Fejes had four goals, but it was Garrett Meurs with the overtime game winner as the Nailers win a barn burner with the Swamp Rabbits down in Greenville. SC by a score of 7-6.

Don’t know if Coal Street will post highlight so this one. If I see the Phantoms put one up I will edit it in.

Pens finish up the weekend with a home game against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Syracuse Crunch at 3:05 p.m. Gameday setup will hit the blog Sunday at 11.

Let’s Go Pens!

DeSmith DeShutout Gets DeWin — Pens WIN 5-0


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It’s a good thing knowing that you have an insurance policy in a goaltender that is good, strong and confident.

It’s better when you take about half the shots as the other team and still win by multiple goals.

It also helps when your penalty killing unit goes 7-for-7, like the Penguins did tonight.

A 33 save shutout by Casey DeSmith, Penguins get goals from Tom Sestito, Daniel Sprong, Frank Corrado, J-S Dea and Dominik Simon and steamroll the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tonight by a 5-0 score.

Casey DeSmith opposed Alex Lyon.

Lines were…

Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Daniel Sprong
Dominik Simon – Adam Johnson – Christian Thomas
Garrett Wilson – J-S Dea – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – Jarrett Burton – Thomas Di Pauli

Andrey Pedan – Lukas Bengtsson
Zach Trotman – Kevin Czuczman
Dylan Zink – Frank Corrado

Casey DeSmith – Tristan Jarry

Lineup Notes: Freddie Tifferls skated as the extra body in warmups. Dylan Zink slotted in for the recalled to Pittsburgh Chris Summers.

First Period: Sleepy start for the Penguins, who were being outshot by the Phantoms 5-0 through the first media break. Out of that, Thomas DiPauli beat out a Phantoms defender, I think it was Philippe Morin, may have been Sam Morin, and wheeled around the net of Lyon and passed to a wide open on the opposite side Tom Sestito who topped the goal home to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Daniel Sprong connected on the power play a little over three and a half minutes later to make it 2-0.

Nice setup by Dylan Zink that set the whole thing up.

Penguins had this stretch tonight where they would go on the power play then give away a silly penalty to Lehigh Valley and skate anywhere from :20 to :40 at four on four. They didn’t allow the Phantoms to score, but it was annoying to see the Penguins earn a penalty and hand it away while on the man advantage.

Second Period: Frank Corrado threw a shot from the point that found its way past Lyon for a 3-0 lead. The puck ate up Lyon from my vantage point. Bad goal to give up in my opinion. You be the judge….

Penguins went to the penalty kill and the Phantoms hemmed them in the whole time but Wilkes-Barre was able to get out of it unscathed. Casey DeSmith had some fine saves.

Later, Tom Kostopoulous had a nice backhand pass to J-S Dea that connected for a 4-0 Penguins lead that chased Alex Lyon…

Shots through two periods were 25-15 Phantoms heading into the…

Third Period: How dialed in was Casey DeSmith tonight?

Chris Conner (remember him?) took a high sticking call that drew blood that put the Penguins on a 4:00 power play. Dominik Simon connected on this shot by Zach Trotman that made it 5-0 past Dustin Tokarski who entered in relief of Alex Lyon after the Dea goal in the second. The Phantoms acquired Tokarski from the San Diego Gulls on Monday.

Video highlights…

Three Stars: 3) Dominik Simon (goal, assist. +1) 2) Tom Sestito (game winning goal, +1) and 1) Casey DeSmith (33 save shutout)

This is the second shutout of Casey DeSmith’s AHL career, the other one coming against this same Lehigh Valley team. In four games against the Phantoms, he has just allowed two goals.

Around the Devision: Hartford with an impressive 5-2 victory over Toronto at home tonight…Bridgeport beats Charlotte 5-3 in North Carolina…Providence stays hot beating Springfield 3-2. Hershey was off.

Standings: Still early days. Providence, Charlotte and Hartford with four points. Lehigh Valley with three, Wilkes-Barre and Bridgeport with two and Springfield and Hershey with zero.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers kicked off their season on the road in Greenville, South Carolina and won 5-4. Reid Gardiner had the game winning goal. He also had an assist. Garrett Meurs had two goals. Sean Maguire picked up the win, stopping 43 of 47 shots.

Coal Street should have video highlights. If I see them I will work in an edit.

These two teams rematch tomorrow in Allentown. Gameday setup hits the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Foegele Bout It — Pens LOSE 5-2


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If you have been coming to this blog for any number of years you will often read me write that there are great teams in the AHL, good teams and bad teams. Charlotte, a team that hasn’t been seen in the Eastern Conference since 2011, is a great team. They were a playoff team last year in the Central Division and were not intimidated by this new look, revamped Wilkes-Barre-Scranton Penguins team. The Checkers spoil the Penguins opener with a 5-2 win.

No, my lede did not include a diatribe against referees Evgenii Romasko and Terry Koharski. They called what they saw and they happened to call a lot of it. The Penguins got burned twice shorthanded by Warren Foegele, who by all accounts should be AHL Player of the Week this Tuesday. Koharski / Romasko called it down the middle, six penalties a side for each team, and the Penguins gave up a power play goal to Charlotte and also allowed Foegele to score twice shorthanded. You don’t win many hockey games that way no matter if its opening night or not.

The only reason it wasn’t a Checkers runaway was due to the play of Tristan Jarry, who stopped 31 of 35 shots.

Jarry opposed Jeremy Smith. Here’s a look at the lines…

Sure beats me hammering out the lines like the old days no?

First Period: Pens nearly got on the scoresheet first with this nice setup and play by Tom Sestito. Yes, Tom Sestito.

Real quick, want to thank Taylor for putting these GIFs out there on Twitter and being so nice to allow me to embed them on my blog for you all. I think it enhances the read.

Penguins struck first with a goal boy Daniel Sprong on the power play. Get used to seeing a lot of this this upcoming season…

That release is sickening, by the way.

Checkers would get on the board after an intentional offside call from the Penguins put the draw down in the Penguins zone to Jarry’s right. After the face-off Valintin Zykov turned around and fired at Jarry and it went in….

Second Period: All out Checkers blitzkrieg, 23 shots to the Penguins 9, put Charlotte ahead of Wilkes-Barre 3-2 after things ended in the second.

Penguins jumped out to a 2-1 lead when Thomas DiPauli follows his own shot while shorthanded and beat Smith to push the Penguins ahead.

Ferocious forechecking by Teddy Blueger set up the whole thing. DiPauli takes advantage.

Undeterred, Phil Di Giuseppe cashed on a power play when he put a shot on Jarry then followed the rebound off of Tristan’s shoulder and put a backhand in to tie it at two for Charlotte.

Penguins then found themselves on the power play looking to make something happen, but J-S Dea turned the puck over to Roland McKeown who found Foegele who scored his first shorthanded goal of the night….

Again, shots 23-9 for Charlotte and nary a goal scored even strength for the Checkers.

Third Period: Foegele again, shorthanded again….

Shots were an even 6-6 this period including a not shown 175′ empty net goal by the Checkers with Jarry vacated from Di Giuseppe.

Charlotte, already leading coming into the period, get another shorty from Foegele to make it 4-2 then get an empty netter. Ballgame.

After the game, Tom tweeted this…

Three Stars: 3) Thomas DiPauli (goal, even) 2) Lucas Wallmark (two assists, +1) and 1) and Warren Foegele (two shorthanded goals, +2)

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley pounds Hershey 7-2 in Allentown….Bridgeport loses 2-1 in Binghamton….Providence beats Springfield 5-2. Hartford was off, they host Lehigh Valley Sunday afternoon.

Too soon for a Standings look. Lehigh Valley, Charlotte and Providence all won so they are on top of the division, the rest of us, Wilkes-Barre included, have 0 points. Still early days.

Wheeling Update: Nailers get ripping on their season next weekend.

I don’t think that the Penguins will post video highlights but if they do, I will edit them in.

Power Rankings debut Monday at 4. Check them out then. Let’s Go Pens!

Preseason Game #4 — Penguins 1, Binghamton 3

The Penguins were in Binghamton taking on the Devils in their final preseason game. They lost 3-1. They will end up in the preseason going 2-2, splitting each with Hershey and Binghamton in the four games played.

Lots of tough decisions coming for Clark Donatelli and his crew this week as the Penguins prepare for their 19th season of hockey in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Here is a look at the lines….

Tristan Jarry opposed Mackenzie Blackwood.

One lineup change from what you see above, swap Cam Brown for Gage Quinney.

No change in the status of Jarred Tinordi, he’s still to be evaluated. That usually means that it’s probably more than just day-to-day. Jeff Taylor was held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons on the hit delivered by Connor Hobbs Saturday night in Hershey.

In the first, there was only one power play awarded and the Devils made the most of it with Nathan Bastian tipping in a Brandon Gignac shot from the point past Jarry to put the Devils on the board at 12:44. Shots were an even 8-8 heading into the second.

In the second, J-S Dea scored on a power play to bring the Penguins level with the Devils again at 4:32 for the only scoring in a hotly contested period. The Penguins had a slight edge in shots in the period; 11-9.

In the third and looking to break the tie, the Devils would inch ahead when Blake Pietila pounced on a turnover and scored to give Binghamton a 2-1 lead at 9:25.

About four minutes later, Craig Skudalski couldn’t control a bouncing puck and turned it over resulting in another goal for Binghamton when Chris Calnan scored to make it 3-1.

With the extra man on for the Penguins, they were not able to get a goal.

One note, ex-Penguin Tim Erixon figured in on all three Binghamton goals tonight, with three assists.

So that wraps up preseason. The Penguins will have a full week of work to prepare for the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday night in their season opener.

Blog wise, where’s what I have on tap for you.

My AHL Previews start at noon Monday with the Pacific Division, with the Central Division on Tuesday, the North on Wednesday and wrapping up with the Atlantic on Thursday.

Any news out of Coal Street or up top in Pittsburgh will be met with its own separate blog post. The Gameday setup will hit the blog for the Pens opener against the Checkers on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Preseason Game #3 — Penguins 3, Hershey 2 (OT)

The Penguins were on the road Saturday night in Hershey for their third of four preseason games. They won in overtime via a goal by Frank Corrado by a score of 3-2. The Penguins couldn’t score on 11 power play opportunities.

Here is a look at the lines…

Casey DeSmith opposed Parker Milner, who was replaced at the halfway mark by Adam Carlson.

Before the game, the Penguins cut five players from camp. To Wheeling: Hunter Fejes, Dan Milan, Kevin Schulze. Matt Petgrave is under contract with the Brampton Beast. Justin Parizek was straight up released.

Also, some injury updates, Jarred Tinordi has, “yet to be evaluated” per Mike O’Brien and Colin Smith participated in the morning skate. Both left Friday’s game vs. Binghamton.

In the first, the Penguins struck first when J-S Dea picked a corner on Milner while the Penguins had a delayed penalty that gave Wilkes-Barre a 1-0 lead. Neither team scored on the power play, the Penguins going 0/2 and the Bears 0/1.

There was a big hit when Connor Hobbs flattened Jeff Taylor with a hit that earned Hobbs an interference penalty. Taylor was OK and shook off the hit. Here it is, courtesy of our friends from Chocolate Hockey…

In the second, Reid Gardiner doubled the Penguins lead with a big shot at 1:25 off of a face-off in the Pens offensive zone. The Penguins were running the Bears all over the rink forcing Hershey into penalty after penalty, but could not cash on the power plays that referees David Banfield an Peter Schlittenhardt were giving them.

So Dustin Gazley takes things into his own hands and scores on a n delayed penalty that cut the Penguins lead to one.

Undeterred, the Penguins continued to goad the Bears into penalties and had a perfect opportunity to extend the lead back to two again when Wayne Simpson clipped Dominik Simon with his stick that drew blood.

In the third, the 2:59 that the Penguins had on the power play to open the period came and went. That was 0/9 so far missing regular players like Daniel Sprong, Tom Kostopoulos and Zach Aston-Reese.

Still, with no consistent five on five allowed by Schlittenhardt / Banfield, every time you turned around one of the teams were on the power play.

Finally, Chris Bourque scored with the extra man on for the goalie, to tie the game to force overtime.

In overtime, teams went back and forth, then J-S Dea stripped a Bear of the puck, led a 2-on-0 with Frank Corrado, passed to the Penguins defensemen who scored to win the game for the Penguins.

Late, Pittsburgh released Jay McClement from his professional tryout agreement. Penguins have one more move to make which is looking more and more like Patric Hornqvist to injured reserve to buy more time for Hornqvist and the Penguins brass for making a decision on what they want to do with Josh Archibald / Derrick Pouliot.

Penguins conclude their preseason with a 5 p.m. start in Binghamton Sunday. Recap after the game.

Preseason Game #2 — Penguins 6, Devils 2

The Penguins dressed more of a regular lineup tonight in tonight’s 6-2 win against the Binghamton Devils. So let’s jump right into the lines tweeted by Obie…

Tristan Jarry started and was backed up by Casey DeSmith and played the whole game. Scott Wedgewood opposed in the Binghamton net.

So as close to a regular lineup you will probably see for the Penguins tonight. You’ll probably see some of the other 26 players who did not dress tonight play in the road games in Hershey and Binghamton Saturday and Sunday.

The game was delayed by thirty minutes due to a compressor problem which help cools the ice.

Here is what I will say about the first period. To start, it was a much quicker pace with more established AHL guys in the line up. After the Penguins walked off the ice to the first intermission I tweeted at the time that it felt like the Penguins were playing the game in second gear, that they didn’t even go full out and still led 4-1 and made it look easy.

Garrett Wilson poked home a back door goal after nice work in the corner from Teddy Blueger to chip a puck to Tom Kostopoulos who no look passed to Wilson in front.

Kostopoulos cleaned up a point shot by Daniel Sprong that gave the Pens a 2-0 lead while Wilkes-Barre was on a two man advantage. Adam Johnson hacked and whacked one second after the other power play expired to make it 3-0.

The Devils only had one shot on goal to this point.

Devils finally punched back on a power play when a Jan Mandat shot from the point deselect off of a Penguin and past Jarry to make it 3-1.

Wilkes-Barre responded in kind with Garrett Wilson’s second goal of the night, deflecting a Zach Trotman shot to make it 4-2 heading into the second period.

In the second, each team got one goal late. Dominik Simon scored when he pounced on a loose puck and scored to make it 5-1. About a minute later Nathan Bastian scored on a ugly Penguin turnover in front of Jarry.

Tom Kostopoulos had a goal and an assist from the first period and completed his Gordie Howe hat trick after a fight with Jacob MacDonald. MacDonald cross checked Jarred Tinordi which sent Tinordi to the room holding his hand / wrist.

In the third, Kevin Czuczman added on to the Penguins lead with a blast of a shot from the point that found its way past Wedgewood that made it 6-2. There were about a million slashing calls in the game. It gets annoying and predictable after a while.

Video highlights…

Penguins play Hershey tomorrow then rematch Binghamton Sunday. I’ll have recaps of each this weekend.