Chirps from Center Ice

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

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

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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.

Lineup: 

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!

GAMEDAY: @ San Antonio 1/18

Who: San Antonio Rampage

Where: AT&T Center

When: 8:00 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Cedar Park, the Penguins met the Texas Stars for the final time this regular season and lost in a shootout 4-3 Emil Larmi came in on relief for started Dustin Tokarski and stopped 24 of 25 in probably his best game as a Penguin. Kevin Roy had a goal and two assists. For the Rampage, they hosted the Toronto Marlies on Thursday and won 4-3. Cam Darcy and Klim Kostin each had a goal and an assist in the win.

Last Meeting: October 26 in WIlkes-Barre, the Penguins won in overtime 5-4. The impact players in that game for the Penguins aren’t with the team anymore. Stefan Noesen had two goals and an assist, Joseph Cramarossa had the overtime game winning goal and also had an assist. Mike Vecchione, who is still with San Antonio and actually had a goal Thursday against the Marlies, scored a pair against the Penguins on that night in October.

Record: For WBS: 18-16-3-4 (43 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For SA: 14-17-5-4 (37 pts., 8th place Central Division)

Referees: Mathieu Menniti / Brett Roeland

Linesmen: Fred Hudy / Chase Wilkinson

Why You Should Care: Wilkes-Barre played better after the goaltending switch yesterday. Do they carry any of that over in San Antonio tonight? The Rampage are in last in the Central but don’t let that fool you, they can be a dangerous team to play against.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Other Game to Watch: Hartford visits Hershey tonight. The Bears were swept this week in Charlotte and the Wolf Pack were in Utica last night. Should be a good game.

Next Five Games: @ SA 1/21, @ CHA 1/24, @ CHA 1/25, vs. LV 1/31, vs. BRI 2/1

Pick Yourself Up — Pens LOSE 4-3 (SO)

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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:

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!

GAMEDAY: @ Texas 1/17

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Who: Texas Stars

Where: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

When: 8:00 p.m.

Last Game / Last Meeting: Wednesday in Texas, the Penguins lost 5-2. Adam Johnson and Kevin Roy scored for the Pens, but Tanner Kero for the Stars came away with the hat trick.

Record: For WBS: 18-16-3-3 (42 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For TEX: 18-17-2-2 (40 pts., 4th place Central Division)

Referees: Mathieu Menniti / Brett Roeland

Linesmen: Aaron Schacht / Michael Miggans

Why You Should Care: Penguins can’t have a repeat performance from Wednesday where they were badly outshot and steamrolled in the third period. They also need to kick it in gear here, coming into the weekend here they are five points out of a playoff spot.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Other Game to Watch: Binghamton, probably one of the hottest teams in the AHL if you can believe it, have won eight in a row and visit Allentown to take on the Phantoms.

Next Five Games: @ SA 1/18, @ SA 1/21, @ CHA 1/24, @ CHA 1/25, vs. LV 1/31

Oula Palve Traded to Dallas 1/17

Rare that two AHL teams see their parents swap NHL contracts while those two AHL teams are in the same city together, on the morning of game.

It happened Friday. Oula Palve was traded to Dallas for defenseman John Nyberg.

Palve and Nyberg don’t have to go far, Wilkes-Barre plays Dallas’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars later today.

It’s a swap of two players that had offensive gifts playing last year overseas who, for whatever reason or another, didn’t click with the organization they were currently playing with.

For Palve, he had 51 points in 53 games playing in Finland last year. This year, he has a goal and seven assists in 37 games for Wilkes-Barre. He’s bounced around lines for Mike Vellucci’s crew, until he was shuffled out for good last week.

Nyberg has the same history, touted as an offensive defenseman but never made enough of a mark to stick.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to go far to get information on Nyberg as the great Stephen Meserve’s site 100 Degree Hockey had this to say about Nyberg back in January 2019 about Nyberg:

…He has struggled to make a mark on the lineup, bouncing in and out as a healthy scratch at times and not scoring his first AHL goal until late December. The assignment should give him a chance to play solid top pair minutes and establish himself better in the North American game.

Nyberg has 19 AHL games under his belt this season with two goals, four assists and six points with a even +/- rating.

One foreign (Nyberg is Swedish) reclamation project for another, essentially.

Gameday setup for Pens / Stars hits the blog at 4, later.

Kero the Hero — Pens LOSE 5-2

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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:

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!

GAMEDAY: @ Texas 1/15

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Who: Texas Stars

Where: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

When: 8:00 p.m.

Last Game: Saturday at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Penguins won 3-0. Casey DeSmith had a 25 save shutout, his third clean sheet of the year. Kevin Roy scored his first with the Pens. For Texas, the Stars defeated the Toronto Marlies on Saturday and won 5-3. Stephen Johns had a goal and three assists after a long layoff from injury.

Last Meeting: December 7 in Wilkes-Barre, the Penguins lost 5-3. Jason Robertson had a pair of first period of assists for the Stars, Landon Bow stopped 26 shots. David Warsofsky and Sam Miletic both had a goal and an assist in the loss.

Record: For WBS: 18-15-3-3 (42 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division) // For TEX: 17-17-2-2 (38 pts., 5th place Central Division)

Referees: Jordan Deckard / Beau Halkidis

Linesmen: Fred Hudy / Aaron Schacht

Why You Should Care: Good opportunity for the Penguins to start this season long road trip off on the right foot with the way that they played Friday and Saturday tonight in Texas. The Stars should make for a good test, as they have won four in a row.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

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

Other Game to Watch: Hershey and Charlotte play Game 2 in their midweek matchup in North Carolina. Last night, the Checkers got the better of the Bears by a 4-1 score.

Next Five Games: @ TEX 1/17, @ SA 1/18, @ SA 1/21, @ CHA 1/24, @ CHA 1/25