Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

I’m 0-for-2 in These Shoes – Pens LOSE 5-2


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I bought a new pair of shoes this past week, Monday, and wore the new sneakers / walking / running shoes to Wednesday’s game and tonight’s 5-2 throttling at the hands of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Walking up to my doorstep at home I said to myself, “I’m 0-for-2 in these shoes” and just went with it for lack of a better headline.

Woof. Wilkes-Barre was manhandled by the Phantoms Friday and played their worst period of hockey of the season there in the second when the Phantoms explode for four straight goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the third period.

Pens get goals from Lukas Svejkovsky in the first, then lost Svejkovsky to injury in the nightmare second and then a third period goal from Nathan Legare to make it 4-2. Ex-Penguin Jordy Bellerive had the put away goal that made it 5-2. Then the fights started, four of them total, when Jamie Devane, Josh Maniscalco, Corey Andonovski and Sean Josling all got into it.

Here’s all the goals in the order in which they occurred starting with Svejkovsky’s in the first.

After this, the Penguins had 1:55 of 5-on-3 time but couldn’t extend the lead further. The power play woes continue.

Wilkes-Barre played a great first period and controlled pace of play. Then the second happened.

Chris Ortiz got worked there. Need to tighten up.

Brutal turnover.

Here’s where J.D. Forrest should have went to Tommy Nappier in my opinion. He didn’t.

That entire second period was a structural mess from the top down, goaltender out.

One positive, the Penguins navigated out of 5-on-3 danger of their own for :96.

In the third, Nathan Legare got the Pens to within two, and here’s where you thought maybe…

But no. Jordy Bellerive gets away from the defenders and scores on his old team for a 5-2 Phantoms lead.

Fights happened after that which should be in the highlight package below. Nothing went right for the Penguins from the second period onward.

Three Stars: 3) Cal O’Reilly (assist) – this was O’Reilly’s 700th AHL point. O’Reilly becomes just the 25th player in the AHL to achieve that milestone. I think he has low key put together a hell of a Hall of Fame career….2) Jackson Cates (two assists) 1) Tyson Foerster (two goals)

The Good: If you can think of one, leave it in the comments.

The Bad: J.D. should have gone to Nappier after the third goal. I don’t know if it would have changed the outcome and none of the goals could be pinned on Lindberg per se, but that’s what you have a backup goaltender for.

Turning Point: Bellerive’s goal put out any faint hopes of a Wilkes-Barre comeback.

Oh, here’s how they lined up:

The Pens released Max Newton and recalled Brooklyn Kalmikov from Wheeling. Pittsburgh sent Dustin Tokarski and Taylor Fedun back.

Around the Division: Not a good night on the out of town board. Bridgeport beats Rochester 1-0 in overtime…Providence beats Hartford (good) 5-3Laval beats Hershey 3-2 in overtime…Springfield pounds Rockford 7-2 (bad)

Standings: Hershey 55 – Providence 53 – Lehigh Valley 43 – Charlotte 42 – Penguins 41 – Bridgeport 41 – Springfield 39 – Hartford 37.

Another big one Saturday in Bridgeport and the Pens thus far have had no success with the Islanders.

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

More Saturday. Keep the faith.

Let’s Go Pens!

Game in Hand, Crunched Away — Pens LOSE 3-2


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I thought the games final 1:30 off a 3-2 Penguins loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night was a microcosm of how the game went.

Penguins down by two with starting goaltender Filip Lindberg pulled for an extra attacker, get a goal from Alexander Nylander to pull within one, but after the ensuing face-off and the same six on five man power, they couldn’t get any closer and time ultimately runs out on them.

That’s how the game went for them Wednesday. Scoreless, quiet first followed by Syracuse getting a goal on a boffo shot by Alex Barré-Boulet through a Penguins defenders legs and right past Lindberg for a goal, then a goal from Drake Caggiula slamming home a puck though bodies in front followed by a Gage Goncalves pass in from that deflects off of Syracuse captain Gabriel Dumont and in for a 2-1 lead for Syracuse at the second intermission. Penguins would get close with a power play in the third, but a Daniel Walcott slam dunk far post from a pretty feed from the near wall put the game out of reach for Wilkes-Barre somewhere in the third period.

It was a game that they were in till the end, just couldn’t finish their chances. They had two golden opportunities in the first when Caggiula dished to Nathan Legare but Legare was unable to finish and then Ty Glover misses a seemingly wide open net for what could have been a 2-0 lead.

That’s pretty much it. Here’s the goals in the order they occurred.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: 

Max Newton was signed earlier in the day to a PTO out of ECHL Reading. For what it’s worth I didn’t notice his #58 on the ice at all tonight. Maybe I need to pay more attention.

Three Stars: 3) Gage Goncalves (two assists) 2) Drake Caggiula (goal, assist) 1) Daniel Walcott (goal)

The Good: It was close.

The Bad: Should have won. Game in hand wasted. Not like they don’t have a thousand of them, but still would have been nice to get one.

Turning Point: The Walcott goal that made it 3-1 was it. So much so that I knew it immediately.

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley beats Cleveland 2-1 in overtime. Friday’s game just got that much more important….Springfield rebounds nicely after a bad weekend with a 2-1 win over a very good Milwaukee Admirals team out in The Good Land.

Standings: Hershey 54 – Providence 51 – Charlotte 42 – Penguins 41 – Lehigh Valley 41 – Bridgeport 39 – Hartford and Springfield 37

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: You know you are late with a blog post when the team has the highlights up half an hour before you even sit down to hammer out a blog post.

Back at it Friday for a massive game at home against the Phantoms.

Let’s Go Pens!

Shooters Shoot — Pens WIN 3-2 (SO)


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Penalty marred affair here where neither team was capitalizing on the infractions. I would have used it in “the bad” section at the end of the game story if the Penguins lost this game after being the beneficiary of seven power plays.

But they cashed on one, likely the most important one of the contest because it tied the game late, forcing overtime then a shootout where the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win 3-2 Sunday afternoon via shootout.

Chalk this win up to Filip Lindberg who kept his team in it with some dazzling saves. He store down grizzled veteran J-F Berube.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Jonathan Gruden was recalled to Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon. Sean Josling jumped back in for the recalled Gruden. Tommy Nappier back up Filip Lindberg.

First Period: The aforementioned Lindberg faced a barrage of early Checkers shots but stopped them all. The period was marred by penalties on both side but neither team was able to score.

Second Period: After the expiration of a power play, the Penguins would score the first goal courtesy of Drake Caggiula.

But then Matt Kiersted scores a goal that if the puck is delivered to him a foot later, he misses the net entirely.

Penalties continued (which was annoying) despite the Penguins being the beneficiary of the calls from referees Chris Waterstradt and Jake Kamrass, but no one else scored in the period, which never had any flow to it because of a refs whistle stopping play seemingly every minute.

Third Period: Lucas Carlsson continued to villanize the Penguins with a goal in the opening moments in the period which edged the Checkers ahead 2-1.

Penguins would continue to get power plays but couldn’t do anything with them. They get one about halfway through the period and finally cash.

That’s Valtteri Puustinen on a Mitch Reinke shot that ties the game.

But remember how I said that Filip Lindberg was the hero in this game? He was none finer with this save which should make the highlight reel at the end of the season.

Late foreshadowing where Lukas Svejkovsky chases a rebound off of JF Berube and Berube takes a swing at the Penguins forward 10 years his minor with his stick.

Overtime: Nick Hart stated at the start that it was the Penguins 12th appearance. That’s a lot of points that matter, but it depends on who you give the other point to. With it being Charlotte, the Penguins were always from this point forward, at least for now, not be able to pass the Checkers for third in the division.

No one scored. Svejkovsky had the game on his stick a couple time but couldn’t find a lane to fire.

Shootout: Alex Nylander with a shake and bake in round one and a roof job, then Lukas Svejkovsky goes five hole in round two. Lindberg stops Anton Levtchi in round one, Zac Dalpe beat him in round two and he stopped Gerry Mayhew.


Three Stars: 3) Mitch Reinke (two assists) 2) Matt Kiersted (goal) 1) J-F Berube (32 saves)

Okay, then.

The Good: Role players stepped up with a good chunk of the regulars out of the lineup for whatever reason. A point off Charlotte for third in the division is a good consolation, all things considered.

The Bad: But for the officiating, leaving your rookie goaltender out to dry a few times isn’t a recipe for success at all. Good thing that Lindberg is good at his craft, especially on this day.

Turning Point: The power play goal that gets us to overtime by Puustinen gets it here.

Around the Division: Providence hosted Hartford in the only other division action this afternoon and needed overtime to beat the Wolf Pack 3-2 in overtime.

Standings: Hershey 54 – Providence 51 – Charlotte 42 – Penguins 41 – Lehigh Valley, Hartford and Bridgeport 37 – Springfield 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers started a little later than the Pens this afternoon and hosted the Kalamazoo Wings but lost in overtime. Brooklyn Kalmikov had a goal and an assist. Here’s the box.

Video Highlights: They didn’t post any last night but the AHL Video Center came through so if you are really interested in the video highlights, navigate here.

Back at it Wednesday at home against Syracuse. I’ll have the Weekend Preview for you some time mid-morning then. Talk to you then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Head Scratcher – Pens LOSE 3-1


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So I don’t understand this one.

Hartford comes to Charlotte midweek and sweeps the Checkers, including shutting them out 5-0. The Penguins come to town, fresh off of an overtime victory against the Atlantic Division leading Hershey Bears, and lose 3-1 on Saturday night.

Yeah, there are no pushover teams at this level. No easy two points as it were. Teams are well coached, well connected to their NHL Partners in development, players know they need to be better. But I said in my Weekend Preview that if the Penguins wanted to evade the average teams in the division then all 6 points clean were a must and were doable.

Hope for 4 out of 6 when these two sides rematch Sunday afternoon.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Josh Maniscalco recalled from Wheeling Saturday early afternoon. Taylor Fedun went up to Pittsburgh, Mark Friedman was sent back to Wilkes-Barre but then recalled. The game originally scheduled in Laval earlier in the month which was postponed by weather will be played on Monday April 10.

Sam Houde was back from illness after missing Wednesday, replacing Sean Josling. On defense, Adam Smith was out along with Taylor Fedun for Chris Ortiz and Josh Maniscalco. They noted on broadcast that Adam Smith picked up an illness yesterday. Filip Lindberg backed up. No change to Kyle Olson, Xavier Ouellet or Filip Hållander’s statuses.

First Period: Staring goaltender Taylor Gauthier gets shook up when two players were tying up near him and a stick went high and into his mask area. Trainers were called and play stopped, but Gauthier was able to see through the remaining five minutes left in the period.

Second Period: Gauthier did not come out, it was backup Filip Lindberg going in. Gauthier was seen in the back up chair later on in the period, so whatever it was (maybe contact lens? cut on the nose?) seemed to be minor.

Lucas Carlsson scores about four minutes into the period for a 1-0 Charlotte lead.

Third Period: Checkers score a power play goal five seconds short of half way in the period and it was a 2-0 Checkers lead. It felt like at the time the way the game was building that the two goal lead was going to be insurmountable.

Jonathan Gruden had other ideas.

1:01 later, he scores to cut it back to one.

Comeback time?

Gerry Mayhew had other ideas.

I’m not able to tell from there if Jon Lizotte knocked it in his own net by mistake or not. Certainly looks like it the way the puck was traveling.

Penguins had 1:30 of 6-on-4 power play, desperate to make up a two goal lead, did a lot of passing and were not able to score.

Three Stars: 3) Lucas Carlsson (goal) 2) Mack Guzda (19 saves) 1) John Ludvig (two assists)

The Good: Lindberg was in good form for the most part, despite giving up three goals. Good to see.

The Bad: 20 shots for against a rival you are trying to stay ahead of is a lackluster effort, plain and simple. Be better Sunday.

Turning Point: The Mayhew goal was the backbreaker. Maybe they play with more urgency down one with a 6-on-4, but down two?

Around the Division: Syracuse thumps Lehigh Valley 5-2 … Hershey does the same to Springfield 6-2 … Utica as well to Bridgeport 5-1 … Hartford, on a heater, beats Providence 3-1. That’s six unbeaten in regulation for the Wolf Pack.

Standings: Hershey 54 – Providence 49 – Charlotte 41 – Penguins 39 – Lehigh Valley and Bridgeport 37 – Hartford 36 – Springfield 35

Wheeling Update: Here is the box for the Nailers and Cyclones.

Video Highlights: I don’t see them. AHL VideoCenter will have them in the morning.

These two teams rematch again Sunday at 4. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Gruden Grinder — Pens WIN 4-3 (OT)


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Jonathan Gruden bookended the goals for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins who narrowly defeat the Hershey Bears in a game that shouldn’t have been as close as it was 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday night.

Penguins race out to a 3-0 lead in the second period only for that three goal lead to be erased by Hershey’s relentless attack. It was Gruden who played the hero for the Penguins who now head to Charlotte for a pair of very important games.

Here’s how they lined up:

Lineup Notes: Sam Houde is ill. Sean Josling took his place. Adam Smith made his AHL debut on defense. Earlier in the day Xavier Ouellet was named as the lone Penguins All-Star. Ouellet is the top scoring defenseman on the Penguins roster but in my mind he’s not even the best defenseman on the team (hello Ty Smith and Mark Friedman) but he’s a Quebecois, so that may have some bearing in why he was selected.

Leading goaltender in all the AHL, Hunter Shepard, who the Pens faced on Wednesday, wasn’t even named. So the nonsense isn’t just limited to the Penguins.

First Period: Good chances for both sides, better chances for the home team, but no scoring.

Second Period: Jonathan Gruden gets the scoring started with a tip in front that gives the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Then, something you don’t see every day these days, a heavyweight bout between Dylan McIlrath and Jamie Devane.

Slight advantage to McIlrath.

The two teams killed each others initial penalties, then Lukas Svejkovsky, who has been knocking at the door for weeks, scores his first professional goal.

Absolute beauty indeed.

Not to be outdone, Raivis Ansons scores his first professional goal, which came shorthanded, to run it up to 3-0 Wilkes-Barre.

Third Period: With Adam Smith in the penalty box, Mike Sgarbossa scores to bust up the Gauthier shutout bid.

And, to this point, my “Night of Firsts” headline for this piece.

Bears continue to push, and Vincent Iorio cashes a goal that pulls the Bears to within one.

Playoff like intensity between the two teams.

With Hunter Shepard pulled, the Bears find the equalizing goal via Mike Sgarbossa with 24.6 seconds left.

Overtime: Jonathan Gruden :29 in made it quick and painless.

Three Stars: 3) Raivis Ansons (goal) 2) Mike Sgarbossa (two goals) 1) Jonathan Gruden (two goals, assist)

The Good: Good to see guys like Svejkovsky and Ansons get their first goals. If you get these kids going, this team can become unstoppable.

The Bad: That third period should die in a fire. Nearly another epic collapse who was only saved by Gruden’s heroics in overtime.

Turning Point: There shouldn’t have been as many as there were, but Gruden’s goal in overtime gets it here.

Around the Division: Hartford sweeps Charlotte after beating them last night. Wolf Pack win 3-2. Lehigh Valley beats a slumping, ice cold Bridgeport team 3-1.

Standings: Hershey 50 – Providence 47 – Penguins 39 – Charlotte 39 – Lehigh Valley 36 – Springfield and Bridgeport 35 – Hartford 34

Wheeling Update: Nailers win 5-2 at home against Reading. Justin Addamo with a pair of goals.

Video Highlights: 

Back at it Saturday in Charlotte. Enjoy Friday off and remember they start at 4:00.

Let’s Go Pens!

Soothsaying — Pens WIN 4-3 (OT)


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Pens down 3-1 to start the third. They were getting ran around the rink and not a lot of shots (only 11) on net. I had this.

Sometimes when you know you know. Pens with the comeback and win, 4-3 in overtime Saturday against the Hartford Wolf Pack.

There wasn’t a blog Friday because I was at my brother-in-law’s for his birthday and also because Filip Hållander was stretchered off late in the third. They didn’t play the remaining 1:12 and the Pens lost 4-2 to Charlotte. Hållander was later discharged home later that night and will be OK but at the time I didn’t feel a silly blog would be appropriate for a game I didn’t watch. Hope you understand.

Anyway, back to Saturday. Pens went down 3-0 to a last place team who were insulating their back up goaltender. They needed a boost and got one finally from a shot from Jonathan Gruden late in the second and then a few minutes into the third to cut into the Hartford lead.

Corey Andonovski deflects in a pin balling puck and it’s a brand new game.

Alexander Nylander with magic in overtime.

Full credit to J.D. Forrest for sticking with Taylor Gauthier, starting in his third straight, as things seemed like they were getting away from him. He was under a barrage early on, not getting all of a Brandon Scanlin one timer that bled through for a 1-0 Hartford lead.

That’s a save that has to be made at this level. I’m sorry.

Will Cuylle with a seeing eye shot through bodies made it 2-0.

In the second, Zac Jones stops at the blue line, dishes off then cuts to the net and scores to make it 3-0.

I’m giving you the post in reverse here, but got to the good part first and saved the bad stuff for last. Hartford is a good team, but you can see why they are a last place team because they are bang your head off a wall inconsistent.

Pens are resilient. They have a lot of offense up in Pittsburgh and leadership stepped in and the guys left to fill the roles (Gruden, Nylander, etc.) stepped up big and got them the win.

Jack St. Ivany had his best game as a pro, dishing three assists. He didn’t get any plaudits with the three star program, but he gets a mention here.

Here’s how they lined up:

Jamie Devane was indeed back. Tommy Nappier was recalled Friday, Filip Lindberg is day to day. He backed up Wednesday. Nappier backed up Friday.

Hartford didn’t post lines.

Three Stars: 3) Drake Caggiula (three assists) 2) Jonathan Gruden (two goals) 1) Alex Nylander (game winning goal)

The Good: Seems like the team is never out of it. Which is a good thing.

The Bad: They went down 0-3 against a last place team using their backup goaltender and held a good Pens team to just 11 shots through two periods. A better team puts down the Pens for good. Gotta turn that around.

Turning Point: The balding 44 year old paper pusher knew the Pens had it when Gruden scored his first and cut into the three goal deficit. You know what they say about two goal leads…

Around the Division: Toronto beats Lehigh Valley 4-3 in a shootout….Providence trounces Bridgeport 6-3….Hershey loses 3-1 to Charlotte at home….Utica slips by Springfield 2-1.

Standings: Providence and Hershey 47 – Charlotte 39 – Penguins 37 – Bridgeport and Springfield 35 – Lehigh Valley 34 – Hartford 30

Wheeling Update: Nailers and Cyclones are 2-2 late in the third when this goes up. Click here to see who won, cause I don’t yet.

Video Highlights: 

Back at it midweek against Hershey. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!


Grits and Gravy — Pens WIN 5-3


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The depleted by callups, injuries and sickness Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins take down the Charlotte Checkers 5-3 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Wednesday night. Charlotte, riding into town on a four game heater and 7-1 against the Pens in the last couple of seasons, go down to the Penguins in what was a hell of a hockey game.

With the win, the Penguins leapfrog to third in the division, over Charlotte.

These two teams rematch Friday.

Here’s how they lined up.

Lineup Notes: Pens called up Chris Ortiz at 10 a.m. and then signed Justin Addamo and Adam Smith to PTOs at 5 p.m. There’s good reason for all of that because Corey Andonovski, Tyler Sikura and Taylor Fedun are sick. Add Xavier Ouellet to the injured list as he is week to week with a lower body injury. Filip Lindberg backed up Taylor Gauthier. New guys in the lineup from last were Justin Addamo and Sean Josling for Sikura / Andonovski up front and Josh Maniscalco and Chris Ortiz for Ouellet and Fedun on defense.

Good news? The top six remained intact.

First Period: Stop me if you have heard this one before but Sam Houde scores the first goal for the Penguins in the third straight such event, this time just 1:13 in.

Game then settled into a bit of a lull that played into the hands of the Penguins, then the penalties started occurring and Connor Bunnaman scored shorthanded for Charlotte, the Checkers sixth such occurrence when he steals a puck at center ice and scores to level the game at a goal a piece.

Then later Henry Bowlby outraces Mitch Reinke for a puck and makes it 2-1 Charlotte.

Great fifteen minutes for the Penguins, a not so good final five minutes.

Second Period: I liked the jam that Lukas Svejkovsky has been displaying of recent and that was on full display here in the period. Valtteri Puustinen scores on a power play to tie the game at two for Wilkes-Barre, then Svejkovsky runs a puck at the net, sees a streaking Houde the far side and passes it and Houde knocks it in. I initially thought it was Svejkovsky’s first goal, but it was indeed Houde. Here are the goals…

I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed that to Svejkovsky.

So the Pens flip the script on the visitors and use a final five-ish minutes to get two goals of their own to take the lead heading into the…

Third Period: Pens transition and get a goal from Alex Nylander. So that top six I was talking about earlier has stepped up when they needed to.

Filip Hållander takes a puck over glass delay of game penalty and then Santtu Kinnunen’s shot off of his stick breaks his stick so the puck isn’t shot as hard. It deflects off of Jon Lizotte and in past Gauthier to bring Charlotte back within one.

Taylor Gauthier had a couple of ten bell saves, notable was one on Gerry Mayhew when the Checkers were sending the house. Charlotte really turned up the wick, but Gauthier and the Pens kept them out.

Jonathan Gruden had a blocked shot that stung, Filip Hållander had the clear to Drake Caggiula who potted the empty net goal to seal it for the home team.

Three Stars: 3) Alex Nylander (goal, assist) 2) Valtteri Puustinen (goal, assist) 1) Sam Houde (two goals)

The Good: Gutsy win that propels them in the right direction. Game in hand good on an idle Hershey. Four point swing against the Checkers.

The Bad: Can’t be taking puck over glass penalties in crunch time.

Turning Point: Didn’t know it at the time but the Nylander goal early in the third gave them the cushion they needed to get across the line.

Around the Division: Only other game in the Atlantic was Providence in Bridgeport. Bruins cruise past the Islanders 5-2.

Standings: Hershey 47 – Providence 45 – Penguins 35 – Checkers 35 – Bridgeport 34 – Springfield 33 – Lehigh Valley 31 – Hartford 28

Wheeling Update: Depleted by callups from their AHL affiliate, the Nailers were off Wednesday.

Video Highlights: 

These two teams rematch Friday in Wilkes-Barer. More then.

Let’s Go Pens!