Chirps from Center Ice

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

GAMEDAY: vs. Syracuse 11/9


Who: Syracuse Crunch

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Utica, the Pens got two late goals :34 apart by Zach Trotman and Jordy Bellerive and defeated the Comets 2-1. Dustin Tokarski stopped 22 shots en route to his first win as a Penguin. For Syracuse, the Crunch hosted the Belleville Senators and won in overtime 4-3. Alex Barre-Boulet scored a pair of goals for the Crunch in the win.

Record: For WBS: 6-5-1-1 (14 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For SYR: 6-3-2-0 (14 pts., 6th place North Division)

Referees: Conor O’Donnell / Brandon Schrader

Linesmen: Jud Ritter / Tyler Loftus

Why You Should Care: Two teams with nearly identical records face off tonight in Wilkes-Barre. The highly potent offense of the Syracuse Crunch will be a good test for a Penguins team that really bottled up the Comets last night in Utica. Should be a fun one tonight.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Promotion(s): STRANGER THINGS / 80s NIGHT — November kicks off with a little retro fun in the upside down world, as we throw it back for Stranger Things/80s Night.  Dress up as your favorite characters from the Netflix phenomenon to take part in our costume contest and other in-stand events during the evening.  Plus enjoy the sounds of synths and keytars all night long with a rad selection of 80s tunes.*

Other Game to Watch: The Ontario Reign are off to a good start and are in Des Moines taking on the Wild in a nice early inter-divisional matchup against two really good teams.

Next Five Games: vs. HER 11/13, vs. SPR 11/15, vs. LV 11/16, @ SPR 11/22, vs. CHA 11/23

* – promo information courtesy of

Tic-Tock, Bells Trot — Pens WIN 2-1


2                                    1

A lesson in patience Friday night in Utica for the WIlkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

After a masterful performance in goal by Dustin Tokarski would appear to be for naught, the Penguins pick up two goals in the span of :34 seconds and beat the Utica Comets 2-1.

Tokarski was beat in the first minute of the game by what was essentially an own goal by Macoy Erkamps. The Penguins as a team looked okay from there on out, but could not crack Comets goalie Michael DiPietro at all in the first or second periods.

Finally, Zach Trotman’s power play goal with about six minutes left to play in the third period tied the game for the Penguins and then later Trotman’s shot was deflected by Jordy Bellerive for a goal that gave the Penguins the lead for good.

It was a very solid performance by the team tonight and one that they will be looking to build on. Utica came into tonight second overall in the AHL in offense but was shutout in two games last weekend by Providence and Rochester and only scored two goals in Binghamton on Wednesday. What was the last undefeated team in the AHL has not lost four straight and are reeling.

What I am trying to say is, with all due respect to the opponent, it would have been a shame if the Penguins lost this game.

Here’s how they lined up on both sides tonight:

Zane McIntyre backed up DiPietro for Utica, not Richard Bachman.

Lineup Notes: Niclas Almari picked up what’s being described as a, “middle body injury” so Justin Almeida slotted in up front and but for Almari, went with the same defensive unit they did on Wednesday. Ryan Haggerty stayed in the lineup over other vets Joseph Cramarossa and Andreas Martinsen. Emil Larmi was cleared medically and was a healthy scratch.

First Period: I’ll let my opening tweets speak for themselves here.

It was actually a Macoy Erkamps own goal to my eyes.

Erkamps looks like he wanted to pass it back to Tokarski to cover and, well, that happened.

Wilkes-Barre settled down a bit after that, but it could have been a false front on the basis that they had two power plays but failed to cash. Shots were 12-8 Penguins heading into the…

Second Period: Benign period. Pens opened with a power play, then the teams were four on four for an odd concurrent delay of game penalty then the Penguins had to kill a power play late. Both goalies remained sharp.

Third Period: Tokarski continued to be sharp and dialed in stopping a shot / pass from Tyler Graovac to Brogan Rafferty that was a good play but not enough to add on to the Comets lead. Later, Josh Teves was caught holding with 6:20 left to play in regulation and Zach Trotman connected for this goal that leveled the score line:

Homemade videos tonight. Glad it wasn’t a five goal affair.

:34 later, Trotman stayed on and fired a shot which was deflected for a goal by Jordy Bellerive that put the Penguins out front 2-1.

With the way that Tokarski was dialed in, all the Penguins needed to do was stay the course which they did and they picked up their first regulation win since October 16 at home against Binghamton.

Three Stars: 3) Mitch Eliot (goal) 2) Zach Trotman (goal, assist) and 1) Jordy Bellerive (game winning goal)

The Good: Obviously the power play came through tonight, because that would have been, “the bad” otherwise had the Penguins not won considering they had four opportunities. Honorable mention to Tokarski, who was dialed in and really should have had a shutout but for the Erkamps gaffe.

The Bad: Whenever the opponent scores just one goal its seen as nitpicking, but that Erkamps gaffe in the first could have been a costly error and a one way ticket out of town.

Turning Point: You don’t need me to say it but I will, the power play goal by Trotman finally broke the wall down for the Penguins in a game where they pressed all night and then Bellerive’s goal shocked the Comets right out of the building.

Around the Division: In the game to watch tonight in Hartford, the Wolf Pack defeat the Hershey Bears in regulation 2-1 to stay hot and at the top of the Atlantic….Charlotte did the same to Springfield 2-1. Lehigh Valley, Providence and Bridgeport had the night off.

Standings: Hartford 21 — Providence and Springfield 16 — Lehigh Valley, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre 14 — Charlotte 11 — Bridgeport 9

Wheeling Update: Make it five wins in a row for the Nailers, who pick up a 4-1 win over the Reading Royals. Ryan Scarfo had a pair of goals. Alex D’Orio picked up the win.

Video Highlights: If Utica posts em, I’ll run an edit. If Wilkes-Barre does the same, I’ll still run the edit.

Pens bus home for a home game Saturday night against Syracuse, the Crunch’s first and only visit this season. If you come to the game Saturday and notice something different, it isn’t your eyes…

Can’t wait to see what it looks like in person Saturday. Gameday setup here on the blog at 3 Saturday afternoon.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Utica 11/8


Who: Utica Comets

Where: Adirondack Bank Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday, both teams lost 4-2 on the road. Jake Lucchini and Ryan Haggerty scored for the Penguins in a loss in Allentown against the Phantoms and Utica mustered only 18 shots on goal in Binghamton. Dyson Stevenson and Nikolay Goldobin scored for the Comets in the loss.

Last Meeting: October 12 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens lost 4-3 in overtime. David Warsofsky had a goal and two assists, but Lukas Jasek’s goal in overtime bested Emil Larmi to give the Comets the win.

Record: For WBS: 5-5-1-1 (12 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For UTI: 8-3-0-0 (16 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Referees: Jim Curtin / Ben O’Quinn

Linesmen: Frank Murphy / Mike Emanatian

Why You Should Care: Both teams are coming off of sour 4-2 losses on the road and will be looking to rebound to start the weekend of right. The Penguins have to be careful here because Utica is a highly potent team that knows they sucked Wednesday in Binghamton and don’t want to make t eh same mistake on home ice on a Friday night in Utica. Penguins may be down Niclas Almari on an already below average defensive unit. Whoever starts in goal tonight for Wilkes-Barre will need to be sharp.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Hershey heads to Hartford in a good test for both teams. Hartford has looked like world beaters while the Bears are off to an okay start.

Next Five Games: vs. SYR 11/9, vs. HER 11/13, vs. SPR 11/15, vs. LV 11/16, @ SPR 11/22

That’s So Criscuolo — Pens LOSE 4-2


2                                    4

Kyle Criscuolo’s goal in the final knockings in the second and the third (via open net) give the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins a 4-2 loss in Allentown on Wednesday night.

Typical game in this early season. Get a lead, lose it, play from behind in the third, get close and lose. It’s becoming a troubling trend how the Penguins have allowed three or more goals in 11 of their 12 games so far this season. If the strength of the team is on its veteran defensive presence, it sure isn’t showing so far.

Casey DeSmith opposed J-F Berube.


Lineup Notes: With Sam Lafferty recalled to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Ryan Haggerty took his spot on the second line. Haggerty was the veteran replacement for Joseph Cramarossa. He and  Andreas Martinsen were the healthy scratches along with Justin Almeida. They went with 11F/7D, with Matt Abt getting back into the lineup. I suppose it’s a good way to rotate Abt and Haggerty back into the lineup and I suppose it’s good to get an extra defensemen out there with all the firepower that the Phantoms boast but if you aren’t going to use Justin Almeida, send the kid to Wheeling. It doesn’t do anything for him to constantly sit.

Injuries: Jon Lizotte blocked a shot last week and that’s why he wasn’t in the lineup Saturday or tonight. His status is the benign day to day. Everyone else was status quo. Emil Larmi is on the trip, pending a doctor release.

First Period: Jake Lucchini was flying in the first so of course he would score for the Penguins here in this nice sequence that beat Berube to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Lehigh Valley would answer a few minutes later when off of a face-off Andy Welinski would rip and fire a shot from the point that tied the game at one.

Let the bloggers handle the puns, Phantoms social media person.

Game settled into a rock fight after that to close out the period.

Second Period: Pens missed on a goal then finally got one to go. Stefan Noesen flew the slot to open the second on a carryover power play and dished off to Andrew Agozzino who hit a post, but then Adam Johnson and Ryan Haggerty played backhand with the puck when Haggerty cashed to bring the Penguins level at two a piece.

Have to back up to the Phantoms second goal, a Paul Carey undressing of Michael Kim and a snap shot that beat DeSmith that initially gave Lehigh Valley a 2-1 lead.

Kyle Criscuolo found a sliver of daylight and ripped one from mid-slot that hit the post and beat DeSmith that gave the Phantoms a late 3-2 lead.

Less than ideal position for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton who had to play from behind heading into the…

Third Period: Playing behind, the Penguins only mustered six shots on goal, and not necessarily from high danger areas. They had two chances on the power play in the period as well and Lehigh Valley’s bottom third penalty kill easily handled the Penguins sixth ranked power play unit.

Further, Lehigh Valley was down to five defensemen as Samuel Morin went down and didn’t return.

Phantoms would bag an empty netter from about 100 feet away when Criscuolo hit the empty net to ice the game away from the home side.

The Good: Jake Lucchini was arguably the best Penguins player tonight, up on a line with Anthony Angello and Oula Palve.

The Bad: Defense continues to struggle. You’ll see the updated chart next week but David Warsofsky’s got the worst goal differential on the team, -10 at even strength and -5 overall. Not singling Warsofsky out per se, but he’s a defenseman on the team and also serves as the captain.

Turning Point: Criscuolo’s goal with under two minutes to play in the second that gave the Phantoms a slim edge gets the nod here. The Pens simply didn’t or couldn’t do much in the third period despite the luxury of two power plays.

Three Stars: 3) T.J. Brennan (two assists) 2) Greg Carey (goal, assist) 1) Kyle Criscuolo (two goals, assist)

Around the Division: Bridgeport ends Springfield’s winning streak with an impressive 1-0 shutout over the Thunderbirds at home today in a morning kids day game. Bridgeport has won two in a row all of a sudden. Everyone else was off.

Standings: Hartford 19 — Providence and Springfield 16 — Lehigh Valley and Hershey 14 – Penguins 12 — Charlotte and Bridgeport 9.

Wheeling Update: The Nailers also played in a kids day game in Toledo and lost 5-4 in overtime. Jan Drozg had a strong game, with a goal and an assist.

Video Highlights:

If I read the November Penguins practice schedule correctly, then the Penguins are bussing up to Utica tonight for practice Thursday and then their game Friday against the Comets. Smart, when you think of it, get all the travel out of the way today, recover and play Friday then bus down back home for Syracuse Saturday night.

More as it comes, although the Gameday setup against the Comets is probably the next entry, Friday at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Lehigh Valley 11/6


Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: PPL Center

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Saturday in Springfield, the Penguins lost in a shootout 4-3. Joseph Blandisi netted a pair of goals in regulation. For Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms lost in Bridgeport on Sunday 4-3. Bridgeport struck twice on the power play.

Last Meeting: November 1 in Allentown, the Pens won in a shootout 4-3. Jon Lizotte had a pair of assists in the win, Joseph Blandisi scored a goal in the shootout round.

Record: For WBS: 5-4-1-1 (12 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For LV: 4-2-1-3 (12 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Brandon Blandina / Rob Hennessy

Linesmen: Tom DellaFranco / Ryan Knapp

Why You Should Care: Important game tonight as these two teams still look for identities in this early season. Will it be a close affair like it was this past Friday or more like last month where the Phantoms did whatever they wanted in an easy win?

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever. / You may also watch tonight’s game live on NHL Network.

Other Game to Watch: Six other games on the schedule today, but four of them were in the morning. Utica and Binghamton isn’t, though. The Comets are the Penguins next opponent and are in Binghamton taking on the Devils.

Next Five Games: @ UTI 11/8, vs. SYR 11/9, vs. HER 11/13, vs. SPR 11/15, vs. LV 11/16

Rip It and Tippett — Pens LOSE 4-3 (SO)


3                                        4

Despite 44 shots on goal and two power play goals as well as goals in the span of :20, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins lose 4-3 in a shootout up in Springfield. The Thunderbirds are on a bit of a roll, this is their fifth straight win.

I feel as though this is a game that, if you run through a simulator, the Penguins win more than 70% of the time. It was a close game, a competitive game, and three out of four points on the road this weekend is not bad.

Phillippe Desrosiers sort of stole the show in net for the Thunderbirds with his performance tonight, but it was Owen Tippet’s goal in the third period that got the game to overtime for Springfield and his goal in the top of the sixth in the shootout that won it.

Lines were…

And for Springfield:





Lineup Notes: Joseph Cramarossa for Andreas Martinsen was the vet-for-vet swap up front. All other pairings were the same from Friday. Jon Lizotte came out of the lineup for Michael Kim. Dustin Tokarski debuted in net.

First Period: Not the best start as the Thunderbirds struck first when a failed breakout bye Joseph Cramarossa was picked off and Daniel Audette scored to make it 1-0 Thunderbirds.


The Penguins would score a 4-on-3 power play goal when Joseph Blandisi tipped in a David Warsofsky shot from the point that tied the game for the Penguins.

Another look…

Shots were 11-11 through the first. A bad start evened up by special teams and two teams stayed step for step with one another.

Second Period: Pretty quiet overall. Pens had a load of shots in the period, but weren’t able to crack Desrosiers despite outshooting the Thunderbirds 14-3.

Wilkes-Barre killed off a long 1:25 of a two-man advantage for Springfield, but got caught late by Aleksi Saarela for a power play goal for Springfield that gave the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead heading to the room to start the third.

Third Period: Penguins score in a span of :20 when Sam Miletic had a deflection of a shot which Stefan Noesen took credit for and it was a tie game at two again:

Then, just like that, Joseph Blandisi scored his second of the night with this goal that gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead.

Finally, it would appear that the offensive avalanche that the Penguins were putting on Desrosiers and the Thunderbirds was finally leaking through.

You’d be wrong.

Methodically, Springfield kept coming and coming and they finally got even when Aleksi Heponiemi drew Tokarski over before dishing to a streaking Tippett for a goal.

Overtime: Periscoped here.

If you don’t want to sit in for the full fourteen minutes, Jospeh Blandisi had a chance to finish his hat trick but was denied by Desrosiers. The audio cuts out at the end of the overtime.

Shootout: Stefan Noesen scored in the top of the first, and that was it. Blandisi, Cramarossa, Sam Lafferty, Oula Palve and Anthony Angello followed but missed on their chances. Henrik Borgstrom scored in the top of the first, Daniel Audette, Aleksi Saarela, Kevin Roy and Anthony Greco missed on their attempts. Owen Tippett did not on his.

Three Stars: Aleksi Heponiemi (two assists) 2) Owen Tippett (goal in regulation and in shootout) 1) Phillippe Desrosiers (41 saves on 44 shots)

The Good: The two goals :20 apart to give them the lead in the third.

The Bad: They really couldn’t protect the lead despite the large what ended up being a 44-23 shot advantage. It’s developing into a problem.

Turning Point: Owen Tippett’s goal to tie the game would get the Thunderbirds to overtime and secure the point. His goal in the shootout gave team the extra one.

Around the Division: Hartford keeps collecting points, they lose in another shootout this weekend this time in Belleville 5-4….Lehigh Valley beats a hapless Sound Tigers team 4-3….Hershey gets two late goals in the third to down Providence 5-3….Charlotte was off.

Standings: Hartford 19 — Springfield and Providence 16 — Lehigh Valley, Hershey and the Penguins 12 — Charlotte 9 — Bridgeport 5

Wheeling Update: Nailers get pushed around in Kalamazoo, losing 7-2. Renars Krastenbergs and Marc-Olivier Duquette scored in the losing effort for the Nailers.

Video Highlights: Springfield usually has em and when they cut them up and I see them and can work an edit in, it’ll go here.

But for anything breaking between now and Wednesday, talk to you then. The Mailbag returns next Monday, later than usual, so start thinking about those questions.

Let’s Go Pens!

GAMEDAY: @ Springfield 11/2

Who: Springfield Thunderbirds

Where: MassMutual Center

When: 7:05 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Allentown, the Penguins had a 3-0 lead, but needed a shootout to take down the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 4-3. The Pens remained perfect in the shootout when Stefan Noesen and Joseph Blandisi netted goals. For Springfield, the Thunderbirds hosted Hershey and crushed the Bears 8-1. Paul Thompson and Anthony Greco both netted a pair of goals and added an assist.

Record: For WBS: 5-4-1-0 (11 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division) // For SPR: 7-4-0-0 (14 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division)

Referees: Furman South / Jason Williams

Linesmen: Frank Murphy / Derek Wahl

Why You Should Care: Phantoms have won five straight and straight up mopped the floor with Hershey last night. The Pens bussed through the night and have to be careful here. Could Dustin Tokarski make his WBS Penguins debut?

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV is back for another season and better than ever.

Other Game to Watch: Providence heads to Hershey in a battle of Atlantic Division behemoths.

Next Five Games: @ LV 11/6, @ UTI 11/8, vs. SYR 11/9, vs. HER 11/13, vs. SPR 11/15