Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Postgamer

Two-Cchini — Pens WIN 4-1


1                                                   4

Five wins win a row for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins who win 4-1 over the hapless Lehigh Valley Phantoms Friday night. Jake Lucchini scored a pair of goals, Casey DeSmith stopped 29 of 30. More importantly, it was a favorable out of town scoreboard for the Penguins, who are now a playoff team by a point over fifth place Springfield and just two back of a very milquetoast Providence side. More on that in a bit.

The aforementioned Casey DeSmith opposed J-F Berube.

Lines were…

Lineup Notes: Anthony Angello and Andrew Agozzino were recalled to Pittsburgh Thursday. Coal Street recalled Brandon Hawkins but he didn’t play. Andreas Martinsen left to play overseas.

First Period: Hot start for the Penguins scoring :46 apart.

Jake Lucchini in behind the defense who lose their stick and he scores to make it 1-0.

Soon after, P-O Joseph fires a shot on that is kicked to Jan Drozg from a low angle. Drozg banks the shot off of Berube for a goal and it’s 2-0.

Pens nearly made it 3-0 with Drozg hitting a shot on the power play, but Lehigh Valley killed off the penalty and Andy Andreoff cherry picked for a goal and scored to make it 2-1 and Wilkes-Barre’s lead was cut in half.

The Phantoms started pushing back and actually got the better of the chances but the score stayed 2-1 heading to the…

Second Period: Penguins played the better of the two sides and extended their lead by two again. Jake Lucchini again, the guy loves scoring against the Phantoms.

How do you leave the net that wide open.

Six of Lucchini’s professional gold have come against the Phantoms.

Third Period: :53 in, Sam Lafferty drives the net and scores to give the Penguins a 4-1 lead.

That goal chased J-F Berube and Felix Sandstrom took over the net. Sandstrom cooled things down for the Phantoms and didn’t allow any goals, but the Penguins also may have backed off to preserve the lead.

Three Stars: 

The Good: They needed to keep the momentum going and the recipe was there with the Phantoms only winning four road games all season. Five wins in a row with another opportunity Saturday night against last place Bridgeport.

The Bad: Can’t really identify one. They stayed disciplined, taking just three penalties but got lax a bit on the Andreoff goal in the first and let off after their second goal. Can’t really do that or get into the habit of it. They did respond well in the second period on.

Turning Point: Sam Lafferty’s goal that made it a three goal contest :53 into the third was the punch in the gut that folded the Phantoms.

Around the Division: Favorable night for the Penguins. Providence loses 3-1 in Binghamton….Springfield loses 6-3 at home against Hartford and Charlotte gets trounced in the 6ix by the Marlies and lose 6-2. Hershey also beats Bridgeport 4-1.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 61 — Providence 55 — Penguins 53 — Springfield 52 — Charlotte 51 — Lehigh Valley 42 — Bridgeport 35

Setting Up Saturday: Too soon for this, but I’ll do it anyway. Pens have a game in hand on Providence, who are in Syracuse….Springfield and Hartford rematch in Connecticut and so do Charlotte and Toronto. That game starts at 4. Pens have a game in hand on Springfield. Charlotte somehow has two games in hand on the Penguins.

Wheeling Update: Wheeling wins 3-2 at home against Orlando. Alex D’Orio stopped 34 for second star honors. Cam Brown scored a pair of goals.

Video Highlights: 

Gameday setup for Saturday’s matchup against Bridgeport is yours Saturday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Big Goal Tom — Pens WIN 4-2


4                                   2

An eight point weekend in Charlotte, seven of eight points on the road trip and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins complete a sweep in Charlotte winning 4-2 Saturday evening.

Thomas DiPauli’s goal with 1:28 left in regulation guarantees such. Emil Larmi stopped 24 of 26 and turned in yet another solid performance in goal for Wilkes-Barre.

Larmi opposed Alex Nedeljkovic, who won eight straight games against the Penguins coming in.


Lineup Notes: There were none for the Penguins but for Larmi in goal.

First Period: :55 in, on the first shot of the game, Checkers all-star Julien Gauthier scored to give Charlotte a 1-0 lead.

Chances picked up in a big way for the Penguins after that, they had a 2-on-1, Blandisi had a breakaway and P-O Joseph hit a post. They weren’t able to score, but they had the majority of the chances as compared to the Checkers.

Second Period: Slow start, crazy finish.

Charlotte easily disposed of a Penguin power play and Jake Bean came out of the penalty box and was denied on a 2-on-0 by Larmi. Later, Freddy Claesson hit the post on a wide open net.

Jordy Bellerive would score when he crashed the net and Kevin Czuczman threw a pass at him. It went in legally and the Penguins tied the game at one.

Three minutes later, Bellerive would do it again. This time on a one timer.

Larmi was settled in to this point, but then he found himself in trouble. Here, let my tweet explain:

Charlotte would continue to pressure, but time expired in the period and they were off to the…

Third Period: Emil Larmi is the type of goaltender who you can see very early if he is dialed in or not. You saw it last week in Texas against the Stars and you saw it here Saturday against the Checkers.

The period flew by after a slow start, Charlotte started to come in waves and through everything they could at Larmi, but the Penguins rookie netminder didn’t crack.

With it looking with each passing minute that the game would head to overtime, Thomas DiPauli breaks in and scores with 1:28 to play to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead.

DiPauli would also add an empty netter to seal it. I didn’t get a video of that. He shot the puck from center ice and it went in. Use your imagination.

Three Stars: 3) Emil Larmi (24 saves) 2) Jordy Bellerive (two goals) 1) Thomas DiPauli (game winning goal and an empty netter)

The Good: They didn’t take a single penalty and got a hell of a game from their rookie goaltender.

The Bad: The power play looks like an abject disaster. They were better in a lot of other areas so it didn’t affect them as much, but you want that to come around as you continue to push here.

Turning Point: The DiPauli goal with 1:28 gets the nod here. If the game gets into overtime, the Pens don’t tie the Checkers in points and who knows what happens with the point lost as it goes down the line. DiPauli’s clutch goal in the moment guarantees that they maxed points in Charlotte against a foe.

Around the Division: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms went up 2-0 in Hartford but lose 4-2….Hershey gets a late goal to force overtime and go on to win in a shootout 3-2….Springfield wins 6-2 at home against Bridgeport.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 59 — Providence 55 — Springfield 52 — Charlotte 51 — Penguins 51 — Lehigh Valley 42 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers win at home 4-1 against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Brandon Hawkins had three assists, Michael Kim had a goal and an assist. Alex D’Dori stopped 28.

Video Highlights:

They are off now till next Friday when they finally return home against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, so news may be scarce between now and then. All-Star Classic is Sunday and Monday, but that’s the same stuff every year and it doesn’t count. Enjoy it if you are heading to California.

Let’s Go Pens!

Building Cassels in the Sky — Pens WIN 5-4


5                                   4

When a player is traded to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, I usually start thinking of how I can use that players name in a pun in a headline for a postgame recap.

From January 4, the day that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins acquired Cole Cassels.

The Penguins win 5-4 in Charlotte Friday night and Cole Cassels figured into every single goal. Cassels had a pair for goals to go with three assists.

Other rejected headlines include, “Four-Sofsky” for David Warsofsky’s four point night (2-2)

All jokes aside, this was a gritty, greasy, messy win for the Penguins over the Charlotte Checkers. You take them how you get them but it’s the kind of win you look for out of a team battling for a playoff berth. With the influx of players from Pittsburgh down from the all-star break, you need to maximize points against a team you are chasing for said playoff berth. So far, so good.

Casey DeSmith opposed Anton Forsberg.


Lineup Notes: Friday morning, the Penguins assigned Matt Abt, Michael Kim and Christopher Brown to Wheeling. With the cadre of players sent down from Pittsburgh coupled with the fact that the Nailers have a boatload of home games in the next week or so, it made sense to get Abt, Kim and Brown back down to Wheeling for reps. Also, announced Thursday, Sam Miletic will replace Andrew Agozzino at the All-Star Classic later this weekend.

There was other news today around noon. Andreas Martinsen was placed on unconditional waivers for the purposes of contract termination. What it basically means is that Pittsburgh wants to shred his NHL contract so he can go to Europe. 24 games with Wilkes-Barre, a goal and two assists and takes up a vet spot. Thanks for the fish.

Current lineup wise, all the reinforcements were in, Jamie Devane and Andreas Martinsen were out and Chris Brown too, but he was sent to Wheeling. On defense, Zach Trotman returned from injury and, with Kevin Czuczman, replaced John Nyberg and Macoy Erkamps.

First Period: On a power play, Kevin Czuczman went to center to Anthony Angello. The pass never got there. Instead, a Checkers defender Steven Lorentz’s stick got in the way but deflected the puck into his net.

You take them any way you can get them.

Later, Cole Cassels finished off a two on one with Adam Johnson. It was all setup by a big save by Casey DeSmith on Lorentz that was setup by P-O Joseph falling over giving Lorentz and the Checkers a breakaway. Here it is:

Not a very good period by the Checkers Steven Lorentz there.

100th AHL point for Adam Johnson with that assist.

Second Period: You had a lot going on in this period.

First, David Warsofsky’s third attempt at a goal in one sequence goes in and the Penguins have a 3-0 lead.

But then Charlotte dug in and went to work.

Julien Gauthier was in front and collected a rebound off DeSmith and swept it past him on a power play that put the Checkers on the board.

Then Eetu Luostarinen with a tip in front. 3-2 Penguins.

Charlotte hit a post on a dangerous power play after their second goal, but the Penguins got out of that unscathed.

Charlotte continued to buzz and fire, Casey DeSmith had a ten bell save, but Thomas DiPauli lost his stick and Gustav Forsling scored to tie the game at three.

(Charlotte didn’t post a GIF here)

Hardly ideal from the Penguins perspective. They were getting run over and hadn’t had a significant scoring chance since the Warsofsky goal. Until…

On a power play, Warsofsky connects with a looooong pass to Cole Cassels who stays onside and breaks in to beat Forsberg that gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead.

Big goal. Big, big goal for the Penguins who crack Charlotte’s power play.

Third Period: Hit the drop!

:08 in, Sam Lafferty finishes off a power play goal, the Penguins third of the night, to give the Penguins a 5-3 lead.

But Charlotte would respond in kind with another power play of their own when Dave Gust would punch in a goal that brought the Checkers within one again.

Wilkes-Barre would find itself in penalty trouble off of the whistle from referee Corey Syvret, who bagged Andrew Agozzino for soft hook and then P-O Joseph for an even softer hook. The Penguins would navigate the rough waters fine, Chase Berger would block three shots in the kill and then with the time dwindling, Charlotte pulled their goaltender but never found the equalizer.

Three Stars: 3) Eetu Luostarinen (goal, assist) 2) Cole Cassels (two goals, three assists) 1) David Warsofsky (two goals, two assists)

The Good: They stepped up and took one from the defending champs. Noted in the lede, it wasn’t pretty, but necessary.

The Bad: Penalty kill wasn’t great, I didn’t like what I saw late from the Joseph – Lizotte pairing, but they got the two points.

Turning Point: I am going to go with that kill late when the Checkers were up two men. They score there and who knows what ends up with this one.

Around the Division: Providence beats Lehigh Valley 4-3….Hershey thumps Springfield 5-2….Hartford beats Bridgeport 4-1.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 57 — Providence 54 — Charlotte 51 — Springfield 50 — Penguins 49 — Lehigh Valley 42 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose in overtime at home to Cincinnati 3-2. Matt Abt had an assist and was a +2.

Video Highlights: 

They rematch Saturday at 6, so that means the Gameday setup is here at 2 p.m. If things break the right way, Wilkes-Barre can tie the Checkers in points and depending on other out of town scores, could be a fourth place team at the break.

Let’s Go Pens!

This Tuesday in Texas — Pens WIN 3-2 (OT)


3                                        2

There is a saying that, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

For Jordy Bellerive, it must be true, he’s scoring goals and the net must look twice the size for the Penguins rookie.

A 3-2 overtime win for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Tuesday night with the goal scored by, who else, Jordy Bellerive that ended the game. Bellerive’s trip through San Antonio this past weekend saw him score two goals and the shootout game winner on Saturday and an overtime game winner Tuesday.

He may not want to board that flight to Charlotte Wednesday, but he will have to.

The Penguins draw to a point of idle and fifth place Springfield and three points back of fourth place Providence for the final playoff spot. A huge meeting with third place Charlotte, who the Penguins are just four points behind, looms this weekend.

Casey DeSmith opposed Ville Husso in a rematch from Saturday.


Lineup Notes: Joseph Blandisi was recalled Monday, so Christopher Brown slotted in for him at center, the forward lines were jumbled up, Jordy Bellerive found himself on the second line, up from the fourth, based off of his performance on Saturday.

Dustin Tokarski was injured in warmups Saturday with what Head Coach Mike Vellucci told Nick Hart was a hand injury. He’s still with the team, practiced Monday and took part of Morning skate. No timetable was given, but I’ll point out that if it were bad, he would have been sent back to Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh if it was.

On defense, the same pairings from Saturday. San Antonio didn’t post lines.

First Period: Largely uneventful period. Andreas Martinsen was the only Penguin forward with a shot on goal, Wilkes-Barre only managed five to the Rampage’s ten.

Klim Kostin deflected a Joey LaLeggia shot about halfway through that gave the Rampage a 1-0 lead.

Penguins killed the only penalty called in the period. Like I said, largely uneventful.

Second Period: Largely eventful period. The Penguins outshot the Rampage 16-4 in the period and got a goal when Jon Lizotte connected with Anthony Angello on this tie setup that tied the game at one.

Ville Husso was forced into some great saves, John Nyberg had one on a shot through traffic, Husso got help from his post when Chase Berger fizzed one past and Jordy Bellerive had a bid go off of the post early on in a two on one.

Third Period: Penguins navigated through back to back penalties easily, then Kevin Roy tipped in a John Nyberg shot that gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

I liked what I saw from John Nyberg tonight, doing all the little things right.

Good, subtle keep in by David Warsofky there at the start of the video that kept play onside. The scoring play doesn’t happen without it.

Wilkes-Barre had one more penalty to kill and did so, but just as Husso came off for an extra attacker, San Antonio indeed found the equalizer on this sequence with ex-Penguin Derrick Pouliot.

Tipped in by Nathan Walker that sent us to…

Overtime: They went back and forth s they often do with all that open ice. It was a sequence with Thomas DiPauli that led to the Bellerive goal. He was tangled up with Husso, got a puck at the neutral zone and put a shot on he didn’t get all of, followed his shot and caused enough interference (legal) on Husso that Bellerive was there for the goal and the finish.

Three Stars: 3) Anthony Angello (goal) Kevin Roy (goal) 1) Jordy Bellerive (overtime game winning goal)

The Good: Any time you get four points at an opponent, you take it and run. Don’t worry about the games finishing past regulation, giving points to a Western Conference opponent is meaningless for the Penguins.

The Bad: I still can’t figure out of it was Penguins good or San Antonio bad (they are last place in a competitive Central) but will likely have that answer this weekend when Mike Vellucci visits his old stomping grounds in Charlotte this weekend.

Turning Point: How can you not go with the Bellerive overtime game winner in this situation? These are big points that could be remembered as the Penguins are shaping up to be in a race with three, maybe four with Lehigh Valley’s sudden resurgence, teams for a playoff spot come April.

Around the Division: They all watched us. It’s a Tuesday, the Atlantic Division just doesn’t play on a Tuesday.

Standings: Hartford and Hershey 55 — Charlotte 51 — Providence 50 — Springfield 48 — Penguins 47 — Lehigh Valley 41 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off, it’s the ECHL All-Star break.

Video Highlights: Coal Street tweeted Saturday’s highlights Monday morning. I hope they don’t wait till Thursday for these. Anyway, if I see them and can work an edit in I will.

I would expect, with Pittsburgh on bye for the next ten days, that you will see Joseph Blandisi and Andrew Agozzino get returned to Wilkes-Barre with Kevin Czuczman and possibly Sam Lafferty. EDIT: They didn’t wait long, check out this time stamp:

AHL Power Rankings will be here Thursday at 11 and then the Gameday setup for the two game set in Charlotte will be here Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

For Whom the Bellerive Tolls — Pens WIN 4-3 (SO)


4                                        3

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins got a win Saturday night in Texas against the San Antonio Rampage 4-3 in a shootout. Jordy Bellerive had a pair of goals in regulation and scored one in a shootout as well to get the Penguins out of the little slide that they are on and to stay up with the leaders in the Atlantic Division.

Casey DeSmith opposed Ville Husso.


The Rampage didn’t post any lines.

Lineup Notes: They were the same up front and switched John Nyberg with David Warsofsky and Macoy Erkamps was back in the lineup for Michael Kim, paired with Niclas Almari.

Emil Larmi backed up. Initially Dustin Tokarski was listed as the backup and I had the AHLTV feed on early and saw warmups and saw Tokarski out on the warmup, so I don’t think it’s anything injury related.

Also from the broadcast, Zach Trotman was upgraded to day to day.

First Period: Both teams took penalties within minutes of one another. San Antonio’s power play is deadly. The Penguins needed a good start and got one when Joseph Blandisi deflected this shot from David Warsofsky that gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Shots were 12-10 for the Penguins.

Second Period: If the first period was boring to you then the second period was the exact opposite.

A short handed goal by the Rampage, then a goal by Jordy Bellerive highlighted a wild period.

First the Austin Poganski short handed goal, the third scored against Wilkes-Barre this season, that tied the game at one.

Nolan Stevens draws three Penguins at him then executes a perfect pass to a streaking Poganski for a goal.

Things continued to unravel for the Penguins, as Jake Walman keeps a clearing attempt onside, then cuts down the slot and backhands one past DeSmith to give the Rampage a 2-1 lead.

A minute or so later, Jordy Bellerive blows a shot past Husso that put the Penguins back on even terms with San Antonio.

Penguins power play wasn’t clicking at all, having given up a short handed goal, so Mike Vellucci put his fourth line out with :26 left in one late in the period.

Third Period: Jordy Bellerive scored his second of the night which gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead…

…but Jake Walman would score his second of the night to tie the game again. It was goals scored by Bellerive and Walman in a span of 1:11 in the second and here, it was a span of 1:20.

They went back and forth for a bit, no one got close to scoring a winner and it was off to…

Overtime: Joey LaLeggia got four minutes for high sticking, but after a Husso glove save in front of Anthony Angello, Angello shoved a guy in the face and was sent to the penalty box. They went back to three on three and then to the …

Shootout: Jordy Bellerive went out in the bottom of the first and scored, Casey DeSmith stopped Austin Poganski, MIke Vecchione and Joey LaLeggia. Chase Berger also had a chance in the second round but missed on his attempt.

Three Stars: 3) Austin Poganski (goal, assist) 2) Jake Walman (two goals) and 1) Jordy Bellerive (two goals and the shootout game winner)

The Good: You can argue that they were the better team tonight and not be wrong.

The Bad: You can make the same case if you were a Rampage fan. I don’t know what Tuesday will say about either team, hell it may even be another shootout.

Turning Point: Thought it was the double minor power play that the Penguins had in overtime, but Angello’s antics snuffed this out. On a night where he was the star, Jordy Bellerive’s goal in the bottom of the first round of the shootout got the Penguins the extra point they so desperately need at this point of the season.

Around the Division: Mason Marchment’s hat trick wasn’t enough for the Toronto Marlies who lose 4-3 in a shootout to the Charlotte Checkers….Hershey beats Hartford 5-4 in overtime in a wild one in Chocolatetown….Providence beats Bridgeport 3-1….Lehigh Valley wins their fifth in a row beating a game Rochester side 4-0. Springfield was off.

Standings: Hartford 55 — Hershey 53 — Charlotte and Providence 49 — Springfield 46 — Penguins 45 — Lehigh Valley 41 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: Nailers lose 4-1 in Indy, Justin Almeida had the goal.

Video Highlights: I believe San Antonio does em on YouTube, if you want to head there to see them if you really want to. I will be busy in the morning shoveling snow before church.

They have a day off in San Antonio Sunday then practice Monday before the rematch Tuesday. I’ll have an update to my charts Sunday afternoon if you are looking for something to poke around on Sunday afternoon or Monday. But for anything else breaking, talk to you here again Tuesday at 4 for the Gameday setup against the Rampage again.

Let’s Go Pens!

Pick Yourself Up — Pens LOSE 4-3 (SO)


3                                    4

Mike Vellucci hammered his team postgame Wednesday after they lost.

Needed more from his forwards, his defense and in goal. Hell, he traded one of his players to the opponent this afternoon. It was an unacceptable effort for a team who is slowly slipping away from a playoff berth here in January.

So when the WIlkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins were down 2-0 just 5:41 into the game, who does Vellucci turn to?

Emil Larmi.

Wait, the same Emil Larmi who the Penguins last saw trying to fight the Texas Stars back in Wilkes-Barre? The same Emil Larmi who couldn’t stop a nose bleed the last time he played in the AHL?

Yep, Emil Larmi.

The Texas Stars would win the game Friday 4-3 in a shootout, but not before the Penguins picked themselves off of the mat twice, overcoming a two goal deficit and then scoring a goal in the third to force overtime.

Probably Larmi’s best game in North America, given the level. He’s had some success playing in Wheeling with the ECHL affiliate and had a shutout, but Larmi needed a game like this to regain his confidence which was shattered the last time he suited up for the Penguins. Under the circumstances, with the Penguins circling the drain, Larmi put a stop on that with excellent saves after excellent saves.

Dustin Tokarski got the initial start and he opposed Jake Oettinger.


Lineup Notes: Shuffled again up front, Jan Drozg was in for Christopher Brown. Debutante John Nyberg was paired with Nicolas Almari on the second defensive pairing. Michael Kim was also in for Matt Abt paired with David Warsofsky. Emil Larmi backed up on the assumption to give DeSmith a night off and the further speculation that he starts Saturday in San Antonio.

Initially the first graphic had Andreas Martinsen on the fourth line but five minutes before the game, the team tweeted the above graphic stating that Devane was in.

First Period: Didn’t go well for Dustin Tokarski. Just 5:41 into the game, the Penguins were down 2-0 on goals scored by Nicholas Caamano and Ben Gleason.

Mike Vellucci didn’t waste any time going to backup Emil Larmi. Vellucci criticized the goaltending he got Wednesday, and he certainly could not be happy here, Tokarski just stopping two of four shots faced.

Larmi entering made Vellucci look like a genius. The Penguins goaltender calmed things down and the Penguins got a goal back after hard work from Kevin Roy from behind the net that made its way to Chase Berger who then found Adam Johnson in front for a goal.

Texas outshot the Penguins 12-7, including one of these shots which will end upon Larmi’s highlight reel.

Probably his best in the AHL. If he doesn’t make that save (the Penguins hadn’t scored yet) the game could have spiraled out of hand. Instead, he kept it 2-0 and you could see the confidence in him and the team in front of him building.

Second Period: Penguins came out with their tails up and ready to get the game tied. Emil Larmi made another fantastic save,this time going post to post to deny Tanner Kero.

The Penguins wouldn’t score on the first power play awarded them in the period, but they scored almost immediately after the first penalty expired when Kevin Roy scored to tied the game at two. Check this setup out:

But the Penguins would lose the lead when Texas replicated the same thing that saw the Penguins score; that is miss on the first power play attempt but score on the second. Anthony Louis with this snipe here to give the Stars the lead again.

Nothing Larmi could do on that one, that is just a dart.

Pens chased a bit but Larmi kept it a one goal lead heading to the…

Third Period: The Stars gift wrapped the Penguins back to back five on three power plays and David Warsofsky cashed on this sequence here to put the Penguins back on level terms:

Tyler noted the following:

All hail Jim Rutherford.

The Penguins killed a late Stars penalty but played great period with some timely saves by Larmi that got the game to …

Overtime: Bonkers, with Larmi making ten bell saves on ten bell saves. He was dialed in and determined not to lose in overtime. Pens had a few chances with Adam Johnson.

Shootout: Jason Robertson scored in the top of the first, Jordy Bellerive in the bottom of the second, Jan Drozg had a shot in the bottom of the third to win it but Nicholas Caamano scored in the top of the fourth and Kevin Roy missed on his chance immediately thereafter.

Three Stars: Jake Oettinger (27 saves 2) Anthony Louis (goal and 1) Nicholas Caamano (goal and shootout game winner)

The Good: The responseafter Larmi replaced Tokarski was a sight to behold. I thought personally the game was over at that point but Emil Larmi made a believer out of me this evening.

The Bad: What kind of message didn’t they get when the coach hammered every facet of the effort that they displayed Wednesday? To come out like they did and go behind like that doesn’t spell a good feeling that they can turn it around and make a playoff push.

Turning Point: In a game full of them, David Warsofsky’s power play goal in the third period guaranteed at least a point for Wilkes-Barre.

Around the Division: Lehigh Valley ends Binghamton’s eight game win streak with a 4-1 win in Allentown. That’s the Phantoms fourth win in a row…Bridgeport beats Providence 2-1….Utica beats Hartford 6-3. Justin Bailey for the Comets bags a hat trick in back to back games, the first player to do so since Mark Mancari in 2011….Springfield beats Syracuse 4-1….Charlotte and Hershey were off.

Standings: Hartford 54 — Hershey 51 — Charlotte and Providence 47 — Springfield 46 — Penguins 43 — Lehigh Valley 39 — Bridgeport 35

Wheeling Update: The Nailers lose 5-4 in Kalamazoo. Cam Brown and Justin Almeida each had a goal and an assist in the loss.

Texas didn’t run any video highlights Wednesday so I doubt they will tonight. I’ll look anyway and if there are any, will run em in a later edit.

Pens travel to San Antonio for a date with the Rampage at 8 Saturday. Gameday setup is here Saturday afternoon at 4.

Let’s Go Pens!

Kero the Hero — Pens LOSE 5-2


2                                     5

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins played a solid forty minutes in their first trip to Texas in over ten years. They got good goaltending and were tied heading into the third period.

Usually in these situations it’s the team that wants it more that wins the game in the third period. In a game where it was all Texas, it was the Stars who win 5-2 Wednesday night to end the Penguins short little winning streak. Texas outshot Wilkes-Barre 37-20.

Casey DeSmith opposed Jake Oettinger.


Lineup Notes: Was essentially Joseph Blandisi, back from Pittsburgh as of Tuesday, for Jamie Devane up front and Jon Lizotte for Michael Kim on defense. Lizotte only missed one game after his scare last Friday against the Hershey Bears.

Also of note, Wilkes-Barre recalled Emil Larmi for the long road trip. It’s my belief that this was a planned move.

Texas didn’t post any lines.

First Period: The Penguins were steamrolled from the drop of the puck, outshot 7-0 at one point when the Stars took a penalty. Just :12 into the power play, Kevin Roy struck to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

First shot of the game for WIlkes-Barre.

Texas would get it right back, on a power play of their own, when Tanner Kero walked through the Penguins defense and scored :20 into the power play.

Penguins were outshot 15-5 and Casey DeSmith was sharp, only getting beat five hole on the Kero power play goal. He tracked the puck well in the period.

Second Period: Texas took back to back penalties and while the Penguins looked good slinging the puck around on the power play, were not able to beat Oettinger.

Then, a strange sequence.

Reece Scarlett elbowed Joseph Blandisi in the face. But referee Beau Halkidis thought that the Penguins forward oversold the call and gave Blandisi an embellishing call. This upset Blandisi who took a second to pick himself off of the ice and get attention from the trainer on the bench to ensure that all of his teeth were firmly in place. When he finally got into the penalty box, the following happened.

He taps on the glass to advise the referee he is unhappy with his ruling. Some referees give you leeway on this and others don’t. I see it happen all the time and nothing happens. But Halkidis must have given Blandisi enough rope prior to the sequence and gave him a misconduct.

What happened after was inexcusable, you can’t shove an off ice official and you most certainly may not put your hands on any on ice official. The box had the penalties on Blandisi read 2+10. No game misconduct and Blandisi returned in the third, but the AHL may look at that anyway. I don’t know if anything comes of it, but you can lose your cool and slam your stick and call the referee all the four letter words you can think of, you can not under any circumstances get physical with on or off ice officials no matter how minor the contact may have been.

Back on the ice, Adam Johnson scored from a tight angle to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead at four on four.

Very nice pass by Roy there to set it up.

But a Casey DeSmith own goal would tie the game at two again.

Anthony Louis puts a shot on, Brad McClure in the area looking for a rebound but the puck gets by DeSmith. DeSmith dropped it, but instead of dropping it in front of him he drops it between his legs and it bounces into the net behind him. Hardly ideal.

Eventful period, to say the least.

Third Period: :38 in and Joel L’Esperance’s seemingly harmless shot hits DeSmith’s pad and blocker and goes into the net for a 3-2 Stars lead.

Strange play, but that kind of night.

Thomas DiPauli hit a post with a deflection attempt, that was about as close as Wilkes-Barre got to scoring in the third and that didn’t even count as a shot because it hit the post.

Tanner Kero scored his second of the night when he picked off a Jon Lizotte chip play off of the wall and scored to make it 4-2. It was like Texas had the playbook on the Penguins.

Penguins had a 6-on-4 power play with DeSmith vacated but didn’t have any luck scoring.

Kero would complete his hat trick with an empty net goal, the first hat trick against the Penguins this season.

Penguins head coach Mike Vellucci shortened his bench and Sam Miletic and Joseph Blandisi didn’t see much of, if any ice at all. Blandisi was benched for the third period.

Three Stars: 3) Joel L’Esperance (goal) 2) Anthony Louis (goal, assist) and 1) Tanner Kero (hat trick)

The Good: Casey DeSmith kept the Penguins in the game going into the third.

The Bad: The Penguins weren’t able to adjust from the first into the second period and surely from the second into the third period.

Turning Point: L’Esperance’s goal :38 into the third period gave the Stars the lead they desperately sought and they played with more panache from there and got a second goal from Kero before his third to complete his hat trick.

Around the Division: Hershey is swept in Charlotte and lose 5-4….Hartford overcomes a huge deficit in Utica to force overtime but lose there 6-5…Lehigh Valley beats Syracuse 5-4.

Standings: Hartford 54 — Hershey 51 — Charlotte and Providence 47 — Springfield 44 — Penguins 42 — Lehigh Valley 37 — Bridgeport 33

Wheeling Update: Nailers were off.

Video Highlights: I will check to see if Texas has them in a morning update and if they do will add in the edit here.

They get a day to regroup for Friday which should be interesting. How to they respond? Expect Tokarski in net. You can’t allow 35+ shots and expect to beat this Stars team.

But for anything breaking between here and there, Gameday setup for Friday’s rematch hits the blog Friday at 4.

Let’s Go Pens!