Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Kevin! — Pens WIN 2-1


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A pair of goals by players named Kevin and 35 saves by Casey DeSmith and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins take down the Hershey Bears 2-1 on Friday night in Wilkes-Barre.

A tight, take what they give you affair. Bears struck in the first period to take an early lead then the Penguins, who only had three shots on goal in the second period, score on their third when Kevin Roy went off on a breakaway after a David Warsofsky blocked shot and scored in the final minute of the period.

Pens went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the second period but it was a bend but not break strategy that got them through that and then the game, really.

Kevin Czuczman navigated through bodies and fired and beat Bears goaltender Pheonix Copley that gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead that stood up the rest of the way.

From that angle, it looked like it hit crossbar and went out and would not count.

Parallax is a funny thing. I believe that was referee Alex Ross there perfectly positioned to signal goal. The Bears never protested that it wasn’t a goal at the time.

I kind of wish Coal Street built in a few Casey DeSmith saves at the end, cause he was dialed in and needed as the Bears made their final push. DeSmith never budged. Even when Hershey had a power play late and went with a 6 on 4, DeSmith kept them out.

That’s pretty much it. Sometimes they are bore fests like this one to and extent and there isn’t much to write home about. The Penguins didn’t have a single power play all game and their penalty kill against Hershey went 4-for-4.

Here’s how they lined up.

Lineup Notes: 

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored the goal in the first period for the Bears. Niclas Almari’s struggles continued on that one as he was tangled up along the wall allowing for Fjallby to break free and score on a snipe that beat DeSmith clean. Hershey didn’t GIF the goal, but it should be in the highlight package below.

Three Stars: I am kind of writing this in reverse, but it gets better from here.

The Good: Found a way to win when they were outshot 36-19….Penalty kill was 4/4, especially in some key areas like the second trailing 1-0. Had the sense if Hershey went up 2-0 it would have been over.

The Bad: Not too many deficiencies tonight. You could say they were lucky to win and not be wrong.

Turning Point: Czuczman’s goal that put them ahead 2-1 and DeSmith’s play in goal in the closing stages get it here.

Not only that, but where would this team be if it weren’t for Casey DeSmith?

Around the Division: Binghamton beats Charlotte 2-1….Rochester beats Lehigh Valley 3-2 in overtime….Springfield beats Hartford 4-1. Bridgeport and Providence were off.

Standings: Hershey 70 — Hartford 68 — Providence 64 — Charlotte 62 — Springfield 60 — Penguins 60 — Lehigh Valley 54 — Bridgeport 44

Wheeling Update: Nailers are shutout 3-0 in Cincinnati.

Video Highlights: 

They bus to Hartford for a 7 start Saturday. Gameday setup is here Saturday afternoon at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Kryptonite — Pens LOSE 3-2


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Tyler’s summation of this 3-2 Penguins loss was proper.

This hot, cold, hot, cold action that they are on isn’t good, and they can’t for the life of them, figure out a way to run Bridgeport out and beat them. The Sound Tigers are in last in the Atlantic but you wouldn’t know it by watching them play the Penguins.

Like Tyler mentioned, it wasn’t a bad effort, Wilkes-Barre outshot Bridgeport 36-28, but for a team that will be returning home this week with just two points out of the three game road trip, that isn’t ideal especially when you are battling for playoffs. They had a chance to go two clear of Providence last night and lost then a chance tonight to go back even with Providence and lost again.

Hershey, Hartford, two with Providence and Syracuse are the next five games. You know this if you read the Gameday setups four hours before every game on this blog. Those teams aren’t cakewalks by any means.

It’s frustrating because, despite the call-ups and injuries, they are close but keep losing. A young team does that. Oh well.

Casey DeSmith opposed Jared Coreau.


Bridgeport didn’t post lines.

Lineup Notes: None. Certainly would have expected Emil Larmi to get the start in net and for perhaps Macon Erkamps on defense, but they didn’t go in that direction.

First Period: Back and forth first half of the period, both teams traded power plays and Coreau and DeSmith also traded good save for save.

Then, Oliver Wahlstrom broke up ice on a delayed call and scored to give the Sound Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Second Period: You were looking for a response from Vellucci’s crew and got it.

First, Jamie Devane on a rebound that tied the game at one.

And then Joseph Blandisi on a rebound for a power play goal that made it 2-1 Penguins.

But then Simon Holmstrom took a nice pass from Bobo Carpenter (yes, that’s his name) and scored on a rocket of a shot that leveled it at two late in the period.

Shots were a hefty 18-11 in favor of the Penguins in the period, so the message of getting pucks to the net was delivered to the on ice personnel by Vellucci.

Third Period: I’m going to let my tweets set up this period. Bridgeport to a power play.

Simon Holmstrom, his second of the game, gives the Sound Tigers a 3-2 lead. Here is how he did it.

Penguins got close a few times, but Jared Coreau shut the door at every chance he could. Even with DeSmith pulled for an extra man they got close, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

A late too many men on the ice call pretty much iced their chances away at a comeback.

Three Stars: 3) Jared Coreau (34 saves) 2) Grant Hutton (two assists) and 1) Simon Holmstrom (two goals)

The Good: They are an Anthony Angello or an Andrew Agozzino away from a playoff team.

The Bad: Those players are still in Pittsburgh.

Turning Point: Holmstrom’s second goal of the game which gave the Sound Tigers the lead for good is the choice here.

Around the Division: Binghamton sweeps Hershey in the home and home series, beating the Bears in Hershey 4-2….Springfield gets a much needed win in overtime against Charlotte. 4-3 was the score….Lehigh Valley loses in a shootout to Hartford 4-3. Providence was idle.

Standings: Hershey 68 — Hartford 68 — Charlotte 62 — Providence 60 — Penguins 58 — Springfield 56 — Lehigh Valley 51 — Bridgeport 44

Wheeling Update: Nailers win big at home against Fort Wayne beating the Komets 6-1. Graham Knott, Ryan Scarfo and Cam Brown all scored goals.

Video Highlights: If the Sound Tigers put some out I will work an edit in here.

They are off until Friday when they host Hershey. I’ll have an update to my charts some time Sunday most likely. They auto update at the bottom of that link there except for games. AHL Power Rankings Thursday. Blog pieces and news as it comes otherwise till then.

Let’s Go Pens!

Wrestling a Bear — Pens LOSE 4-2


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The term, “wrestling a bear” is used when you are dealt with a difficult task.

In this case, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are without defenseman Kevin Czuczman to injury and playmakers Anthony Angello and Andrew Agozzino to recall to Pittsburgh.

Every night is like wrestling a bear.

So they need to capitalize on the opportunities when presented.

They didn’t tonight.

A 4-2 loss to the Providence Bruins when crucial playoff points are on the line. The Bruins didn’t look like a team who have won just four games in their last ten. They gummed up the Penguins and have a hell of a goalie in Max Lagace tending the nets for them.

Onto Bridgeport Saturday, who will be coming up from Allentown overnight. The Bruins are off Saturday and it’s a chance again to draw even in points with Providence as we go on.

Casey DeSmith opposed Max Lagace.


Lineup Notes: Jordy Bellerive was back, on the the fourth line with Jamie Devane and Christopher Brown. Brandon Hawkins came out of the lineup to make room for Bellerive. No changes on defense. Kevin Czuczman, Dustin Tokarski and Chase Berger were all listed as, “week to week” on the pregame show with Nick Hart.

First Period: Not Niclas Almari’s best period.

Turned into a pylon on the first goal scored by Didier and then turned the puck over on the wall to the Bruins and Brendan Gaunce scored as he tried to olé his way back into the play. The Penguins are in big trouble if they are going to be without Kevin Czuczman for any length of time. The coaching staff has no faith at all in Macoy Erkamps and Matt Abt is banished to Wheeling. There really isn’t anything else in the ECHL affiliate to call up. For a team that is battling agin this season for its playoff life, plays shown above from Almari have to be corrected.

Yes, development league, yadda yadda. Save it.

Wilkes-Barre failed to score on the only power play in the period.

Second Period: Adam Johnson scored a power play goal in the opening stages in the period here.

And that was pretty much it for action in the period. Shots were 6-6 and I thought that the Penguins played better than the Bruins in the period. It resembled a lot of what they did in Hartford on Wednesday, they just were trailing here vs. leading there.

Third Period: Penguins had a great opportunity to score when Kevin Roy led a 2-on-0 up ice. His pass was broken up and then the Penguins buzzed around Lagace’s net before the referee lost sight of a puck in a mass of bodies when Joseph Blandisi pushed the puck in but the whistle had blown.

Two on one, Penguins defender goes to ground to cut off the pass and Joona Koppanen keeps it and scores to make it 3-1.

Penguins went into scramble mode from there and pulled DeSmith out of a media break with 4:21 left, scrambled some more and the Bruins hit an empty net. Jordy Bellerive tacked on a meaningless goal with .8 left to make it a 4-2 final.

Three Stars: 3) Joona Koppanen (goal) 2) Josiah Didier (goal) 1) Max Lagace (28 saves)

The Good: They didn’t take a penalty against.

The Bad: Niclas Almari needs to figure it the hell out already. You aren’t going to see me on his foreign exploits and put him as the second coming when he’s constantly lost out there on the ice night after night. He was responsible for both Bruins goals in the first period. At this point if I am Vellucci I run Macoy Erkamps out there to get a message across Saturday in Bridgeport.

Turning Point: Koppanen’s goal that made it 3-1 gets it. Lagace was dialed in from the drop, was beat early in the opening stages of the second on a power play goal but shut it down from there.

Around the Division: Binghamton clips Hershey in overtime 4-3. The Devils scored with an extra attacker to force and then won in overtime….Lehigh Valley beats Bridgeport in overtime 3-2….Hartford beats Laval 3-1. Charlotte and Springfield were off.

Standings: Hershey 68 — Hartford 66 — Charlotte 61 — Providence 60 — Penguins 58 — Springfield 54 — Lehigh Valley 50 — Bridgeport 42

Wheeling Update: Nailers are finishing up against Cincy. Box here.

Video Highlights: I doubt Providence will run a video highlight package.

Gameday setup for Saturday’s matchup against the Sound Tigers hits the blog Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

The P.O. Show — Pens WIN 2-1


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The Hartford Wolf Pack don’t lose in regulation on home ice this season. They had one regulation loss coming in to Wednesday’s matchup with the Penguins.

Until tonight.

Two goals by Pierre-Olivier Joseph, 25 saves by Casey DeSmith and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins defeat the Hartford Wolf Pack 2-1 on Wednesday to move into a tie with the idle Providence Bruins for fourth in the Atlantic Division with 58 points. Those two teams meet Friday in Rhode Island.

DeSmith opposed Adam Huska.


Lineup Notes: 

I didn’t catch Nick Hart’s pregame show because Wednesday is garbage night so I don’t have anything for you on Chase Bergeror Kevin Czuczman. Assume upper body, day to day.

First Period: They played 19:58 of inert hockey with a ton of icings, smattered with a quick pace and really needed it in contrast to getting scored on in every period last weekend against Hershey and Lehigh Valley until P-O Joseph had a shot blocked but he followed the puck and wound up and scored with 1.6 seconds left in the period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Second Period: Wolf Pack come out and score early on in the period when they swarmed the goal and Ryan Dmowski was the last guy to throw it on net and it went in.

Teams traded some bullheaded power plays. Lucchini chucked a puck over the glass for a Hartford power play that was bad and Huska interfered with Lucchini behind his net for a Penguins power play which was worse.

P-O Joseph or Brandon Hawkins scored when Joseph shot the puck and Hawkins either deflected the puck or didn’t. Hawkins was first through the tap line but the off ice guys gave the goal to Joseph.

Third Period: They needed a quiet period given the score line and got one. Navigated through some penalty trouble, limited chances against and held on. With Huska pulled, Hartford never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Ryan Dmowski (goal) 2) Casey DeSmith (25 saves) 1) P-O Joseph (two goals)

The Good: They needed a quiet, you can say a boring affair and got one.

The Bad: Giving up one goal and winning is nitpicking in this department.

Turning Point: Joseph’s or Hawkins goal that gave the Penguins the lead for good was all that DeSmith and the Penguins defense needed as they took it from there.

Around the Division: Charlotte continue to win, their fifth in a row, as they sweep the Rochester Americans at home and win 5-2 in the divisions only action of the night.

Standings: Hershey 67 — Hartford 64 — Charlotte 61 — Providence and the Penguins 58 — Springfield 54 — Lehigh Valley 48 — Bridgeport 41

Wheeling Update: The Nailers were off.

I’ll look in the morning for video highlights. There really weren’t many. A DeSmith save here, a post hit there. The videos above should fill it all in for you.

They head to Providence for a huge matchup with playoff implications this Friday. I’m looking forward to that. Gameday setup is yours Friday at 3, but for anything breaking beforehand.

Let’s Go Pens!

Ustimenko? UstiStinker! — Pens LOSE 5-3


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We are going to do a mailbag for Monday just so you know, so get started on your questions now.

I want to mentioned it now because as you read this recap of a 5-3 Penguins loss, you may quit halfway through like the team tonight only to remember that you have a tab open on your phone and finish strong but come up short, just like the team tonight.

I say that because it could be masked that Emil Larmi had a bad game tonight. He certainly started that way, allowing three goals on seven shots, but the Penguins, who were playing in front of the biggest crowd of the season on military appreciation night (no love for the Space Force, what the heck!) let a Lehigh Valley team run over them and run away with the game and all the Penguins did was take penalty after penalty (five total, most at inopportune times) and give up a shorthanded goal (that was one of three early ones let in by Larmi)

Kirill Ustimenko started in his first AHL game tonight for Lehigh Valley and stopped 38 of 41 shots. At times, you could have sworn that he was playing in his 100th AHL game, not his first. The Phantoms played a rounded, disciplined game and have quietly won three straight. The Penguins now have loudly lost two straight and with Charlotte’s overtime win at home against Hartford, have overtaken the Penguins for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.

Isaac Ratcliffe beat Larmi shortside for a 1-0 Phantoms lead. Then Jamie Devane beat the tar out of Kurtis Gabriel off of the ensuing face-off. Then Kevin Roy scored to tie the game.

The Penguins started great, producing a lot of shots at Ustimeko, but after the Roy goal nothing got by.

Lehigh Valley scored a shorthanded goal when Maksim Sushko scored. Sushko scored again to make it 3-1. Penguins had to kill back to back penalties before the end of the first.

In hindsight, if I am Mike Vellucci, I pull Larmi for Casey DeSmith. The Penguins don’t play again until Wednesday and it’s a two goal deficit with time to make up ground to start the second, but he didn’t.

Kevin Roy had a breakaway that Ustimenko stopped.

But Kyle Criscuolo scored with a give and go play and it was 4-1 Phantoms.

In the third, a lollipop of a shot caromed off of Larmi and in scored by Gerry Fitzgerald.

Larmi didn’t allow anymore gaffes in net, the Penguins only took two penalties in the period offset by two taken by Lehigh Valley and then Myles Powell scored his first Penguins goal by driving the net. Later, Jan Drozg scored with seconds left to make it 5-3.

Oh, and the Penguins lost Chase Berger to injury in the first and Kevin Czuczman to injury in the second. I didn’t see what happened to Berger, but Czuczman ran into DiPauli and was knocked out. He was staggered getting helped off the ice by two other players.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was that play?

Here’s how they lined up.

Niclas Almari came out or John Nyberg.

In the division, Hershey beat Springfield 5-2 to go tops in the Atlantic after Hartford lost 4-3 in overtime to Charlotte. Bridgeport beat Providence 4-2.

Hershey leads with 65 points followed by Hartford with 64 then Charlotte and Providence with 57 then the Penguins (56) Springfield (54) Lehigh Valley (48) and Bridgeport (39)

I can’t think of anything good to come out of this. The bad was probably the shorthanded goal that they gave up early in the first. The Phantoms took the lead from there and never looked back, it’s probably the turning point too.

Reading beat Wheeling 5-3. Ryan Scarfo had a goal. Craig Skudalski did too. Funny story about Skudalski, he worked at the Ford dealership I buy my trucks from and gave me a ride over to work the one morning I dropped it off there for service.

Don’t forget about the mailbag for Monday. Pens are back in action Wednesday on the road.

Let’s Go Pens!

That’s a No From Pheonix — Pens LOSE 3-0


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Turning point of this game, a 3-0 Penguins loss on Friday night against the Hershey Bears, was in the middle of the second period when they just went down 2-0. Pheonix Copley, the starting goaltender for the Bears on this night, hadn’t been tested much to this point.

The Penguins rattled off a couple of good chances in succession, but Copley wasn’t having any of it. You needed a cheap one to beat him tonight but with the way the Bears were playing as a unit tonight, it wasn’t going to happen.

Copley collects his second shutout of the season, both against the Penguins but he lost that game in a 1-0 Penguins shutout win a while back. Wilkes-Barre’s eight game point streak is also over.

That’s pretty much it, on a night where Wilkes-Barre was out possessed in the first and went down early on a Matt Moulson tap in goal on a power play off a rebound of a Christian Djoos one timer. In the second it was a busted rush up ice for the Penguins that turned into a rush up ice for Hershey which resulted in a Garrett Pilon goal that made it 2-0. You could argue that this sequence here was the crusher that sealed the deal for Hershey and not be wrong. An empty net goal by Liam O’Brien late in the third was the other goal.

I could remember, but for the second period buzz which Copley shut down, a Kevin Roy breakaway and a Joseph Blandisi follow up attempt in the first period which Copley stopped. Also, a Chase Berger deflection on a Zach Trotman shot. That was about it offense wise for the Penguins.

Wilkes-Barre had a great penalty kill sequence in the third period when they were on a two man disadvantage. P-O Joseph broke his stick blocking a shot and was without it but still managed to get in the way and Penguins starting net minder Casey DeSmith stopped a one timer from going across the goal line. It really was a sight to see and the sole bright spot on an overall bad night for the Penguins.

That’s really it. They get Lehigh Valley Saturday night at home. Better luck next time, I guess.

Here is how they lined up.

They jumbled up the combinations and put Adam Johnson on the top line. Myles Powell was recalled from Wheeling and I liked what I saw from the guy. I think he hit a Bear on every single one of his shifts Friday. Brandon Hawkins was the extra on ice. Emil Larmi backed up and scuttlebutt on the concourse is that Dustin Tokarski broke his finger.

Garrett Pilon (goal), Matt Moulson (power play goal) and Pheonix Copley (31 saves) were the three stars in that order.

Around the Division: If Hershey was going to win this game Friday, then you wanted to see Hartford do the same. They couldn’t. Charlotte beat them 6-0. Lehigh Valley beat Springfield 4-1. Bridgeport and Providence were off.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 63 — Providence 57 — Penguins 56 — Providence 55 — Springfield 54 — Lehigh Valley 46 — Bridgeport 37

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

Lehigh Valley in Saturday, game is on WYOU if you are local. Gameday setup Saturday afternoon here at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

It’s a Trap! – Pens WIN 2-1


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On a lazy Wednesday night in a low scoring game, the captain of the hockey team and the star goaltender carried the mail and got the home team the win.

In a bit of a perfect storm of a contest, the Penguins beat the Binghamton Devils 2-1 exactly how I described. No trap game here. David Warsofsky scores both goals on the power play and Casey DeSmith stopped 22 shots to pick up the win.

Casey DeSmith opposed Gilles Senn.


Lineup Notes: Chris Brown for Jordy Bellerive. Macoy Erkamps took warmups as the extra. Bellerive was listed among the injured pregame. If anyone heard Nick Hart mention what it was that happened to Bellerive, drop a comment below.

First Period: Nondescript first fifteen or so minutes. Both teams killed a penalty then Binghamton found itself on the wrong end of a two man advantage and David Warsofsky scored through a crowd with under five seconds left on it to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Second Period: Binghamton had 1:30 of two man advantage and could not score. Then Brett Seney wheels around the net at full speed and centers to Nick Merkley for an easy tap in which tied the game at one.

Close game to this point.

Third Period: David Warsofsky, again, six seconds in on the power play, puts the Penguins ahead 2-1.

DeSmith and the Penguins defense held on from there.

Three Stars: 3) Cole Cassels with two assists, 2) Casey DeSmith with 22 saves and 1) David Warsofsky with two power play goals.

The Good: Leadership and special teams win the day. Exactly how it should be.

The Bad: I don’t know about you, but I don’t like these close games against non-playoff teams. Also giving away six power plays to the opponent isn’t a recipe for success, no matter what day it is.

Turning Point: Warsofsky’s third period power play goal is the obvious choice.

Around the Division: Two other games in the Atlantic. Bridgeport and Syracuse played a kids game in Connecticut this morning. Syracuse gets a late goal and beats the Sound Tigers 3-2 and Springfield and Hartford connected for their third game in three straight meetings and Hartford takes sole possession of the Atlantic Division with a 7-4 win. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Hartford 63 — Hershey 61 — Providence 57 — Penguins 56 — Springfield 54 — Charlotte 53 — Lehigh Valley 44 — Bridgeport 37

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: 

Power Rankings hit the blog Thursday at 11, barring unforeseen delays. Check them out then.

Let’s Go Pens!