Chirps from Center Ice

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

GAMEDAY: vs. Hershey 5/1

vs. 

Who: Hershey Bears

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

When: 5:00 p.m.

Last Game: Last night in Newark against Binghamton, the Pens won 3-1. Alex D’Orio continued his hot week with 23 saves against the Devils. For Hershey, the Bears beat Binghamton 4-3 in a shootout on Wednesday. Matt Moulson had two goals and an assist.

Last Meeting: This past Sunday in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens broke out for six goals and beat the Bears 6-3. Josh Currie had a pair of goals and an assist, Kyle Olson had a goal and two assists for the Penguins.

Record: For WBS: 10-11-3-2 (25 pts.) — For HER: 18-6-2-0 (38 pts.)

Referees: Jordan Deckard / Mason Riley

Linesmen: Richard Jondo / Jud Ritter

Why You Should Care: Ahh, I am sure the Bears are itching to try to get back at the Penguins after that pasting Wilkes-Barre laid on them this past Sunday.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV

Next Five Games: vs. BNG 5/5, vs. BNG 5/8, @ LV 5/9, @ LV 5/15, @ HER 5/16

Success in Newark — Pens WIN 3-1

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Penguins go undefeated in Newark this season winning in all three trips after a 3-1 win Friday night.

You were wondering if there was going to be a let down after beating two of the better teams in Hershey and Lehigh Valley earlier in the week against a Binghamton team who dressed just four natural defensemen and have lost six straight coming in.

There’s a methodical approach to this win streak. I think it’s simply just one shift at a time. But for an offensive output Sunday with the Bears, its been a structured approach for this three game win streak for the Penguins.

Here’s how they lined up:

First Period: Jordy Bellerive scored his ninth of the season followed up by Jon Gruden capitalizing on a gaffe by the goaltender that made it 2-0.

GIF by the Pens says Miletic but the goal was awarded to Gruden.

Second Period: No scoring. Pens had the only power play of the period but didn’t capitalize.

Third Period: Binghamton got one back on a redirect that made it interesting and the score was cut to one. Colton White on a redirect.

No GIF here.

Penguins scored their first empty net goal off the season when Drew O’Connor picked off a clearing attempt that made it 3-1 with three seconds to play.

Three Stars: 3) Alex D’Ohio (23 saves) 2) Colton White (goal) 1) Jon Gruden

The Good: Three game win streak is good. They are getting a solid performance from Alex D’Orio in goal and playing out that way from defense all the way up to forward.

The Bad: Again, nitpicking a one goal by the opponent performance by Wilkes-Barre is a futile effort.

Turning Point: Seemed like the win was never in doubt, after going up 2-0 in the first and leaving it that way at the end of the second. Bingo got one back, but nothing more.

5 o’clock start Saturday at home against Hershey.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

GAMEDAY: @ Binghamton 4/30

Who: Binghamton Devils

Where: RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark, NJ

When: 7:00 p.m.

Last Game: Wednesday at home against Lehigh Valley, the Pens won in overtime 2-1. Tim Schaller scored the game winner but Alex D’Orio, on his birthday, stole the show with 41 saves, 18 of those coming in the third period. For Binghamton, they hosted Hershey Wednesday and lose 4-3 in a shootout. Mason Jobst had a pair of goals in the loss.

Last Meeting: April 16 in Wilkes-Barre, the Pens went down hard 6-3. Nate Schnarr had a pair of goals for the Devils. Josh Currie had a goal and an assist in the defeat.

Record: For WBS: 9-11-3-2 (23 pts.) — For BNG: 5-14-5-2 (18 pts.)

Referees: Jordan Deckard / Mason Riley

Linesmen: Tom DellaFranco / Bob Goodman

Why You Should Care: Pens have done excellent against the class of the division in Hershey and Lehigh Valley, let’s see how they do today against the worst in the division with Binghamton.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV

Next Five Games: vs. HER 5/1, vs. BNG 5/5, vs. BNG 5/8, @ LV 5/9, @ LV 5/15

No Playoffs This Year

News out of Springfield on Thursday afternoon revealed one of the worst kept secrets League wide…

Only the Pacific will have a mini tournament to determine a champion there. Funny how we knock them for playing less games (68 to the traditional 76) than the other AHL teams, some may end up playing more this season than others outside that division.

October 15 is the targeted start date for the 2021-22 season with a full 76 game schedule planned.

Wilkes-Barre has seven games (four road, three home) left.

Everything is made up and the points don’t matter this year. I guess you could say that it it’s good that the NHL cared enough about the AHL enough to force a farce of a season for 27 of its 31 affiliates. Prospects needed a place to play, taxi squads muddled the waters a bit but it was the same for everyone. COVID delays, postponements and cancellations were expected, and all clubs are still playing either in front of no, or a limited group of fans.

Here’s hoping none of that happens come October 15. No delays, no postponements, a full schedule against a more traditional matrix of opponents and fans can attend in full or as close to full capacity in every arena across the League. Let’s worry about masks and vaccine requirements down the line. Herd immunity is the ultimate goal, not just in the AHL but as a country.

D’Orio Show — Pens WIN 2-1 (OT)

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Penguins goaltender Alex D’Orio had a birthday today.

His gift? A 41 save performance and a, “I have arrived” moment as the goaltender of the future for the Penguins. Wilkes-Barre beats Lehigh Valley 2-1 in overtime Wednesday night.

It goes without saying that D’Orio has kept his team in the game tonight as well as Sunday against Hershey. He singlehandedly stood down the barrel of two of the better teams in the division and navigated his team to a positive result.

Imagine if this team had a goal scorer.

Here’s how they lined up:

First Period: Not much to write home about. Linus Sandin scored on a 2-on-1 after a failed Penguin clear to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead. There was a fight, with Will Reilly and Brennan Saulnier getting after it.

Second Period: No scoring, teams traded power plays. Goalies were stealing the show.

Third Period: Penguins still down one and time was becoming the enemy, Pens find themselves on ~1:45 of two man advantage and Anthony Angello cashes for a power play goal.

But that kid I mentioned at the open was starting to steal the show. It’s his birthday, after all.

Post to post to keep it level.

Overtime: About 90 seconds in, Josh Currie found Tim Schaller for the game winner.

Three Stars: 3) Felix Sandstrom (32 saves) 2) Tim Schaller (overtime game winning goal) 1) Alex D’Orio (41 saves)

The Good: Consider the corner turned. The Penguins are no longer that pushover team you saw a few weeks ago. They have jelled, you can buy the coachspeak and captain talk, and they have a hell of a goaltender budding into a star.

The Bad: Hard to nitpick when you have a rookie goalie stop 41, only give up one and win in overtime.

Turning Point: Has to go to Angello’s power play goal in a gotta have it moment for the Penguins on the power play there in the third.

They are back at it Friday in Newark.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.

GAMEDAY: vs. Lehigh Valley 4/28

vs. 

Who: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

Last Game: Sunday at home against Hershey, the Penguins busted out of their funk and won 6-3. Captain Josh Currie had a pair of goals and an assist. Kyle Olson had a goal and two assists. For Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms beat Binghamton in Newark 6-5. Linus Sandin had a goal and two assist, Cam York had a goal and two assists and Captain Cal O’Reilly had three assists.

Last Meeting: April 3 in Allentown, the Pens lost 5-4 in a shootout. Radim Zohorna and Josh Currie had two assists each. Tyson Foerster had the only goal in the shootout which won it for Lehigh Valley.

Record: For WBS: 8-11-3-2 (21 pts.) — For LV: 15-4-2-1 (34 pts.)

Referees: Jordan Deckard / Mike Dietrich

Linesmen: Michael Magee / John Rey

Why You Should Care: Want to see if the Penguins can keep the momentum going against the Phantoms after a fine showing Sunday against Hershey. Equally, the Phantoms have been the class of the division just like Hershey.

Listen: Nick Hart on the call on WILK.

Watch: AHLTV

Next Five Games: @ BNG 4/30, vs. HER 5/1, vs. BNG 5/5, vs. BNG 5/8, @ LV 5/9

Flashback Pens — Pens WIN 6-3

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They looked the Pens of yore this afternoon in Wilkes-Barre, winning 6-3, rather convincingly mind you, against a Hershey side which as been the class of the division for pretty much the entirety of this shortened 2021 season.

Unflappable, physical and unrelenting. The Penguins of old, for sure.

Alex D’Orio opposed Pheonix Copley.

On D’Orio, he has earned the net in my opinion and has made the most of the opportunity afford him this season. Sign a vet in the offseason and let D’Orio eat next year.

Here’s how they lined up:

First Period: They came out throwing the body. Remember those Penguins who would physically wear down an opponent by just beating the crap out of them? That’s what they looked like today.

Philippe Maillet opened the scoring on a 4-on-3 that put the Bears on the board first.

But Chase Berger tied it on this ridiculous angle goal and then Josh Currie worked off a give and go that gave the Pens a lead heading into the second period.

Second Period: Remember yesterday when I said that the Penguins lacked a pure goal scorer? You want to know what a pure goal scorer looks like?

That’s a pure goal scorer. Matt Moulson will be in the AHL Hall of Fame some day.

Wilkes-Barre jumps ahead again when Jon Gruden’s intended pass for Kyle Olson turns into a shot for a goal on Pheonix Copley.

Axel-Jonsson Fjallby scored a short handed goal. Inopportune time for that to happen. All the momentum in the world, and you give up a short handed goal.

Josh Currie added a power play goal to give the Pens a 4-3 lead heading into the third.

Third Period: The Pens came out firing and got a goal from Jon Lizotte. No GIF on this one.

Pens took a couple of penalties and were able to navigate through fine. Anthony Angello added the put away goal with under five minutes to play to ice the game away.

Three Stars: 3) Kyle Olson (two assists) 2) Jon Gruden (goal, assist) 1) Josh Currie (two goals, assist)

Nick Hart with some tidbits:

Captain steps up, gets help from up and down the lineup from all facets and the rookie goaltender shoves aside an assault from the best team in the division. Great Sunday.

The Good: More of this please. Would like to see more. Did J.D. Forrest coach this out of this team or did they all just say enough is enough? Guess we will find out together this Wednesday at home against the Phantoms.

The Bad: Nitpicking in hindsight, but the penalties in the third are something you do not want when nursing a lead against the divisions best team.

Turning Point: Josh Currie’s power play goal gave the Pens a lead they wouldn’t relinquish and set back the Bears. Hershey was up to the challenge, but the Pens stayed firm and didn’t break.

More of this please against Lehigh Valley Wednesday.

Let’s Go Pens!

Stay safe.