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WBS Sends Four to Wheeling

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

According to the AHL Transactions page, the WBS Penguins have sent defensemen Cody Wild and Philip Samuelsson, as well as forwards Cody Chupp and Matt Rust to the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL).

Ryan Schnell has been re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) from Wheeling.

For those in Wheeling unfamiliar with how these guys did in the AHL, here's what you're getting from those four guys:

Matt Rust
Season Stats: 36 games played, 4G, 7A, +2, 14 PIM

Cody Chupp
Season Stats: 15 games played, 1G, 4A, +4, 14 PIM

Philip Sameulsson
Season Stats: 41 games played, 1G, 7A, +3, 20 PIM

Cody Wild
Season Stats: 42 games played, 0G, 5A, +6, 28 PIM

I figured the four would get sent down shortly after the trading deadline and now Wheeling fans don't have to wonder why the WBS Penguins have a bunch of healthy bodies sitting in the stands on a regular basis.

The move leaves WBS with 14 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen. This could mean that Carl Sneep is ready to play this weekend. He would make seven defensemen on the roster.

This news postpones the February Grades and they will post tonight.

WBS Penguins Trade Deadline RECAP

Monday, February 27, 2012
The Penguins have not made any trades today, the first time since 1989 according to WBS beat writer Jonathan Bombulie. So Eric Tangradi and Brad Thiessen stay in the organization but will they play for the WBS Penguins again this season? The answer is yes! Both were on the WBS Roster at the 3 p.m. deadline so both are eligible for the rest of the AHL season and playoffs.

The rule is that players on the NHL roster after 3 p.m. today are not eligible to play during the AHL playoffs. Here's what the AHL said earlier today on one of their Twitter accounts:
#AHL Clear Day deadline is March 5 at 3 pm ET. Players in the NHL must be on an #AHL roster today at 3 ET to be eligible for inclusion.
Now the next big day is next Monday when the AHL Clear Day Rosters are due. Players not on the Clear Day cannot play unless injury, recall or suspension occurs to someone on the roster.

Trade Deadline Day Live Blog 2/27

Could Eric Tangradi be on the move?
Trade deadline day is here! The Penguins organization could very well stand pat this year, but you never know when an offer will come to the table that GM Ray Shero will pull the trigger on.

This is a live blog and will remain updated with any trades involving the Penguins organization as well as relevant AHL moves affecting teams the AHL Penguins could see in the playoffs. Initial reactions will be on the Twitter side with a blog update following shortly after.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE 3:00 p.m. EST - The 3 p.m. deadline has passed but that doesn't mean the trades won't keep coming in. Last year, seven deals were announced after the deadline.  But now the attention turns to players being sent down to the AHL today so they can be eligible for the rest of the AHL season and playoffs.

For the WBS Penguins, I'm hoping Eric Tangradi and Brad Thiessen are sent down so they can be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs. Haven't seen anything yet, but unless they're involved in last second trades I would be shocked if they were sent down at least for the day so they can play in the AHL again this year.

2:00 p.m. EST - The first major trade affecting the WBS Penguins has occurred. Tampa Bay has traded Norfolk's big forward Carter Ashton to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Keith Aulie. Both players are likely to play with the AHL teams of those organizations.

So Norfolk loses a big time point getter in Ashton, but they get a shutdown defensive prospect in Aulie. WBS Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie compares Aulie's style of play to that of Robert Bortuzzo. So definitely a good add defensively for the Norfolk Admirals, but you have to give up something to get something back in return.


Pens Fall Short to Admirals 3-2

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Without both of the team's usual goaltenders, Brad Thiessen on recall to Pittsburgh and Scott Munroe hurt last night, and the team's leading scorer Bryan Lerg to an apparent illness, the Penguins lose a close game to the Norfolk Admirals this afternoon.  Two tough losses this weekend for the Penguins, who are now off until next Sunday.

Patrick Killeen vs. Dustin Tokarski in net. I thought Killeen played well and was good enough to get the Pens the win today, but that wasn't the case today.  Lerg and MacIntyre out and Nick Petersen and Cody Chupp inup front. Philip Samuelsson, Cody Wild and Matt Rust remained healthy scratches. Carl Sneep is still out with an injury, as is Boris Valabik and Keven Veilleux. Both of the latter are out long term.

After a scoreless first period, much like last night, the Penguins got on the board first when Ben Street fired a puck past Dustin Tokarski. Joey Mormina and Alex Grant got the assists on the power play goal, Street's 18th of the season.

The Admirals tied it with a power play goal of their own as Mark Barbiero beat Killeen and then literally beat Killeen as he plowed into him after scoring the goal.

The teams would come out for the final frame tied at one until Tyler Johnson won a face-off back to ex-Penguin J.P. Cote, who would rip a point shot past Killeen high to the glove side to give the Admirals a 2-1 lead.

Alexandre Picard (WBS) would tie the game at two about halfway through the third period on a point shot that eluded Tokarski and tied the game at two.  The Penguins had been outplaying the Admirals most of the game to this point and you had that feeling that the Pens could find one more.

With 3:58 left in the game and the Penguins on the power play, Alex Grant sneezed and found himself in the box for what I'll call a very soft hooking minor on Norfolk's Tyler Johnson, who flew to the ice as soon as the slightest contact was made.  The Admirals score on a bad angle shot with that power play with 2:04 left and that's all she wrote.

I will be running a live blog tomorrow morning covering the trade deadline with all moves made by the Penguins as well as moves that affect AHL relevant teams in the Eastern Conference.  First reactions will be on the blog's Twitter feed, followed by a blog update. Should be an interesting day for a Monday morning/afternoon.

Lastly, for more up to the minute updates on the Penguins and relevant news follow Highland Park Hockey on both Twitter and Facebook and help spread word of this blog to all hockey fans.

We're approaching the one year mark of this blog and all of the pictures, interviews, game previews & recaps, breaking news and features are original content from yours truly. I finished my journalism degree last season and look forward to continuing and expanding the coverage of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins while looking for full-time work in the sports writing field.

So to all of the loyal readers who share this page to others I say thanks, to both Penguins fans and fans of other teams. I look to become the voice of reason when it comes to the AHL Penguins and it wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for those who have come here from the start.

Pens Lose "Nitty Gritty" Battle 2/25

Saturday, February 25, 2012
 The Penguins drop this game to the Syracuse Crunch tonight by a final score of 2-1 and Crunch goaltender Antero Nittymaki stopped 35 of 36 shots he faced.

It's not too often that you match up against a goaltender with over 200 NHL starts under his belt at the AHL level, and it showed tonight as Nittymaki carried his team to a win.

Just 3:33 into the middle frame, Scott Munroe made an awkward save and left the game after an apparent lower body injury. I'm hearing a pulled muscle, but we won't speculate until I see something official. Anyway, Patrick Killeen stepped in to relieve Munroe, making only his 3rd appearance with the AHL Penguins in his career.

All three of the game's goals came in the second period.

At about the midway point of the period, with the Crunch on the power play, Dan Sexton tapped in a really nice goal after a series of tape-to-tape passes to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins responded with a power play of their own less than four minutes later with a great effort from Ryan Craig. Geoff Walker's initial shot was saved by Nittymaki but Craig was able to smack the rebound home from his stomach as he was knocked down in front of the net during the scramble.

The eventual game winner was scored with just 7 seconds left in the period when Penguin killer Kyle Palmieri set up Patrick Maroon with his 25th goal of the season.

LINEUP NOTES:
  • Philip Samuelsson, Cody Wild, Nick Petersen, Cody Chupp and Matt Rust were all healthy scratches tonight. 
  • Cal O'Reilly made his WBS debut tonight and although he didn't get on the score sheet I really liked his play tonight. Just needs to get acclimated with his new teammates/linemates.
  • Heard that Brad Thiessen might be on his way back to the AHL before Munroe's early exit occurred tonight. Nothing against Killeen, but I'm hoping Thiessen is in Wilkes-Barre tomorrow afternoon.
Penguins face off against a red hot Admirals team, who won their 8th straight game tonight. Follow all of the action right here!

WBS Penguins Take on Crunch

The big guy always picks on the little guy it seems right?
The WBS Pentuins take on the Syracuse Crunch tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Csey Plaza. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. EST.

It's Ryan Craig Bobblehead night which means it should be a packed house for the WBS debut of forward Cal O'Reilly, who practiced with some of his new teammates during yesterday's optional skate. I expect O'Reilly to take Nick Petersen's spot in the lineup, who didn't play much after the first period during Thursday night's wild 7-6 win over Manchester.

Here's my best guess at possible lines for tonight. I'll update them during the warmups over on the Twitter side.

Bryan Lerg - Ben Street - Jason Williams
Colin McDonald - Cal O'Reilly - Brian Gibbons
Paul Thompson - Ryan Craig - Geoff Walker
Brandon DeFazio - Zach Sill - Cody Chupp

For the Crunch, Kyle Palmieri has been a Penguin killer all season long. It will be important for WBS to keep tabs on him all night. Patrick Maroon and former WBS forwards J.F Jacques and Luca Caputi have also fared well against the Penguins. Iiro Tarrki got the loss against Albany lst night, so the Pens could see Antero Nittymaki in net for the Crunch tonight.

For the Penguins, it's simple. Continue to win and keep pace in the division. With Brad Thiessen in Pittsburgh, it's Scott Munroe's show. Not sure if the Thiessen move is permanent with trade rumors picking up, leading to Mondays trade deadline.

After tonight's game with the Crunch, the Penguins finish the weekend before a week long break with a 3:05 p.m. tilt tilt against the Norfolk Admirals.

After this weekends games I will have a live blog on Monday as well as twitter updates with any moves affecting the WBS Penguins and other prominent AHL teams in the conference.

WBS Penguins (D)efeat Manchester 7-6

Thursday, February 23, 2012

If you couldn't figure out why the D in the headline was in parenthesis you will by the end of tonight's post game recap.

The Penguins came out firing but trailed the Monarchs 2-0 after twenty minutes, despite out shooting Manchester 15-5. But you had to have a feeling that if the bounces started going the Penguins way that they could turn this game around.

The Penguins did just that, tallying four straight goals in the middle frame to pull ahead 4-2. Goal scorers were Brandon DeFazio (8th), Gibbons (9th), Williams (9th) and Chupp (1st) but a lot of the credit should go to Colin McDonald, who set up two of the four goals with absolutely amazing passes. 

You have to give credit to Manchester for their effort in the third period. Linden Vey scored two goals in the final period and finished with 3 points and a +5 rating despite his team giving up six goals. I'm sure most in the building tonight thought blowout after Williams and Zach Sill scored 16 seconds apart to make it a 6-3 game.

But the Monarchs kept battling and managed to get a point out of a game where frankly they were outplayed for a good portion of the contest. They got four goals in the final 15:55 of play to send the game to overtime, with the last goal coming from Trent Hunter with the goalie pulled and only 48 ticks left on the clock.

The game needed a shootout to decide the winner and the Pens got goals from Geoff Walker and Bryan Lerg, along with four saves on five Monarchs shooters by Scott Munroe to preserve the win.

The only other game in the AHL tonight was a big one for WBS as Hershey lost in regulation to the Lake Erie Monsters 4-3. The Pens' win, coupled with the Hershey loss, gives the Penguins first place with 71 points and Hershey is stuck on 67 points and moves to third. The idle Norfolk Admirals remain in 2nd place with 69 points.

On a personnel note, newly assigned forward Cal O'Reilly didn't play tonight but I was told he made it to Wilkes-Barre late this afternoon and was given the night off. Expect to see him this weekend. Carl Sneep is still not 100% and Cody Wild and Philip Samuelsson were healthy scratches on the blue line tonight. Up front, Matt Rust and Steve MacIntyre were healthy scratches.

It was interesting that Nick Petersen didn't play much at all and was replaced by DeFazio on his usual spot with Walker and Craig where he started the game. Didn't appear hurt and sat in the middle of the bench the whole third period.

Penguins play home Saturday against Syracuse and Sunday afternoon against Norfolk. Highland Park Hockey will keep you covered with Penguins hockey all weekend long!

Cal O'Reilly Joins WBS Penguins (AHL)

Photo from theahl.com, the American Hockey League's official website.
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today that they have re-assigned forward Cal O'Reilly to the WBS Penguins. A move that frankly I had discussed when the Pens first claimed him off re-entry waivers. Here's what the Penguins official Twitter account said about why the sending down of O'Reilly was exempt from waivers:

@pghpenguins: "Regarding O'Reilly: he didn't have to clear waivers to go to WBS. Since he was claimed off [re-entry] waivers #Pens had 10 games or 30 days to evaluate."

Either way, a huge boost for the AHL Penguins, getting a forward who piled on the points in 260 games with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals, racking up 56 goals and 197 assists there. He also has played in 31 AHL playoff games.

A lot of people compare O'Reilly to that of a Dustin Jeffrey type player, which is great news for a forward core in WBS that has been inconsistent of late. Plain and simple, O'Reilly is a playmaking forward with good speed and vision that fans in Wilkes-Barre could potentially be thrilled with in the coming weeks if he's here to stay.

He will wear #26 with type WBS Penguins and I'd expect him to play tonight if he makes it in time for tonight's game against the Manchester Monarchs at 7:05 p.m. Each game becomes increasingly important with the top teams in the East Division as close as they are. Only other AHL game is a big one to watch for the Penguins as the Hershey Bears take on the Lake Erie Monsters.

We will have live updates of the WBS game tonight on the Twitter side, along with a recap on the blog after the game.

GO PENGUINS!

Penguins Sink Pirates, Win 5-3

Monday, February 20, 2012

An exciting finish to the game this afternoon. The Penguins had a 4-3 lead with 2:15 left, but Ryan Craig took a slashing minor to give the Pirates a big chance to tie it up.

Scott Munroe made some big saves on the penalty kill and Alexandre Picard iced a puck 195 feet and caught a lucky bounce off the boards to get it in an empty net.

Pens win 5-3 and are now tied with the Norolk Admirals with 69 points each.

A lot of lineup changes for today's game. It was Scott Munroe vs. Justin Pogge in net.  Zach Sill, Eric Tangradi and Cody Wild sat out in favor of Brandon DeFazio, Steve MacIntyre and the return of Simon Despres.

Recap after the jump.

Penguins Shut Out by the Devils, Lose 3-0

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Tough night for the WBS Penguins tonight, as they are shut out by Jeff Frazee and the Albany Devils 3-0.

After a scoreless first period, the Devils got two goals past Brad Thiessen in the middle frame.  The first was an Eric Gelinas shot that beat Thiessen. The second goal, and possibly the game changer, came late in the period on a penalty shot goal by Tim Sestito.

The referee awarded a penalty shot after light contact by Joey Mormina, a very questionable call.

Robert Bortuzzo nearly beat Frazee at the end of the second period, but that was the story of this game. Almost getting pucks past Frazee wasn't enough tonight. The bounces didn't go the Penguins' way. Credit to Frazee with his second shutout of the season, a 32 save performance.

Gelinas added a third period empty net goal to seal the deal, his 10th of the season and second of the game.

Brandon DeFazio and Philip Samuelsson were the healthy scratches again tonight. Brad Thiessen was in net tonight, but made plenty of great saves to keep the Penguins in the game tonight. Can't pin the loss on Thiessen.

The Pens are back at it on Monday afternoon against the Portland Pirates up in Maine.

Pens Dominate Sens, Win 6-1


After two rather discouraging losses to the Hershey Bears and Norfolk Admirals, a trip to Binghamton Friday night seemed to be all the team needed.

Alex Grant and Matt Rust each scored twice and Nick Petersen added a goal and two assists for the Penguins in their impressive 6-1 victory over the Senators.

Rust, in particular, must love playing against the Senators as five of his 11 points on the season have come against the Sens.

The Penguins are in Albany tonight for a game against the Devils at 7 p.m. EST.

Penguins Shutout at Home, Lose 4-0

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The East Division race just got even more tight as the Penguins fall 4-0 to the Admirals tonight. Both teams have 65 points, but the Admirals own the tiebreakers. Hershey is nipping at the heels with 64 points.

Eric Tangradi returned to the lineup and was rather ineffective, bouncing around the bottom six tonight. It was Scott Munroe vs Dustin Tokarski in net tonight and you couldn't really pin the loss on "Munny" as most of the goals were defensive lapses.

A lot of extra curricular activity tonight, with three fights, a line brawl and a total of 72 PIM in the game. The two early fights in the first period didn't really spark either team as the game was scoreless after the first frame.

The Admirals opened up the scoring with a shorthanded breakaway goal by Trevor Smith :59 into the second period. Richard Palat made it 2-0 with 2:09 left in the middle period.

The Admirals got two more in the third period and cruised to an easy 4-0 win. Pierre-Cedric Labrie notched his 11th of the season and Tyler Johnson added his 17th of the season with a 5x3 goal late in the game.

The Penguins have two road games in New York this weekend with Friday night in Binghamton and Saturday in Albany. I'm planning on making the road trip to both games to bring exclusive road coverage of WBS Penguins hockey! Stay tuned.

East Division Showdown: NOR @ WBS


With the top three teams in the division separated by two points (WBS=65, HER=64, NOR=63) tonight's game between the Pens and Admirals has a lot on the line.

An Admirals regulation win puts them in first place in the division, with the Ads having all the tiebreakers (regulation wins, season series, etc.). If the Penguins win, they not only stay in first place but add some separation as well with Hershey idle.

For the Penguins, newly re-assigned Simon Despres will not play tonight but could play this weekend. Eric Tangradi was still tending to a family matter yesterday so his status is uncertain. Carl Sneep and Steve MacIntyre didn't practice yesterday and are day to day.

With three games this week and back to back road games on Friday and Saturday, expect Brad Thiessen to get the start tonight and Scott Munroe to get one of the games this weekend.

Expect Brad Thiessen vs. Dustin Tokarski in net tonight.

Projected lines:
McDonald - Lerg - Williams
Gibbons - Street - Thompson
Craig - Sill - Walker
DeFazio - Rust - Petersen

Bortuzzo - Strait
Picard - Mormina
Wild - Grant

Recap after the game. GO PENGUINS!

Bears 5, Penguins 1 - Final 2/12

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It was Brad Thiessen getting his second start in consecutive nights vs. Braden Holtby for the Bears.  Eric Tangradi was scratched but he is not TRADED. He was tending to a family matter. Steve MacIntyre replaced Tangradi in the WBS lineup. Philip Samuelsson took Cody Wild's spot. Nick Petersen was a healthy scratch again today.

After nearly 14 minutes of scoreless hockey in the first period, the Bears got on the board. Then scored a power play goal with Samuelsson off just 1:39 later.

The Bears added two more in the beginning of the second period just 29 seconds apart and never really looked back. 

Jason Williams broke Braden Holtby's shutout in the third and nearly got a second goal, clanking one off the inside of the post after beating Holtby clean. But on the same shift, Ryan Potulny got his second of the night and the cherry on the sundae, making the 5-1 score a final.

The Penguins are still in first place in the East Division. They have one meeting left with these Hershey Bears at home on April 6th. The WBS Penguins next game is Wednesday night when they will host the Norfolk Admirals.

Welecome Back Picard, Pens Win 4-3

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tonight featured two games in one. The first 40 minutes clearly belonged to the Portland Pirates. They took a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into the contest and other than the "own goal" they allowed on the power play, really dominated the play.

But the Penguins were up to their 3rd period antics again tonight, stealing a 4-3 overtime win and heading to Hershey with another two points on the line tomorrow afternoon.


WBS Penguins Practice UPDATE 2/9

Thursday, February 9, 2012
Carl Sneep, Boris Valabik and Keven Veilleux the only injured players on the roster.
The Penguins practiced at the Coal Street Rink today and Highland Park Hockey was there to bring the exclusive coverage with live updates on the Twitter feed. For those who missed that, a quick recap of what happened today:
  • Alexandre Picard and Boris Valabik practiced in regular jerseys. Expect Picard to be ready this weekend, but not Valabik. Valabik was mentioned by Hynes earlier this week as in the infancy stages of practice and still has a ways to go before being ready to return to action.
  • Carl Sneep did not practice today.  He won't play this weekend.
  •  Ryan Schnell and Cody Chupp were on the ice today so unless they are getting sent down later today or tomorrow, expect them to stay the weekend in Wilkes-Barre.
  • A lot of that depends on whether or not a forward will need to go back to Pittsburgh for their next game Saturday, and on the health of Eric Tangradi. Tangradi practiced at full capacity and looked good. But that doesn't mean his back can't flare up again and cause him to miss more time.
Here's the lines I jotted down at practice today. Interesting was that basically each line had four guys rotating in and out. Surprised to see Cody Chupp taking reps with the top line, but don't read too much into that.

McDonald - Lerg - Williams/Chupp
Gibbons - Street - Thompson/Tangradi
Craig - Sill - Walker/Petersen
DeFazio - Rust - MacIntyre/Schnell

Bortuzzo - Strait
Mormina - Picard
Grant - Wild
Samuelsson - Valabik

Thiessen - Munroe

McDonald, Williams Back to WBS Pens

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It appears as though Colin McDonald is on his way back to the AHL Penguins this afternoon as he has been placed on the "In the System" portion of the NHL Penguins team website and not on the regular roster.  That nugget caught my attention thanks to Pittsburgh Penguins beat writer at the Post Gazette, Dave Molinari.

Jason Williams also sent down as the team announced it this afternoon.

The move to bring McDonald and Williams back gives the NHL Penguins 11 healthy forwards.

I have a feeling that Jordan Staal and Simon Despres, who were given a 5 to 10 day timeline by Dan Bylsma might be ready to return to action this weekend. Either way, no need to pay McDonald and Williams their NHL salaries when they could be practicing in the AHL this week.

If McDonald and Williams are going to stay in the AHL this weekend, then expect the next news to be Cody Chupp and Ryan Schnell to be on their way back to Wheeling (ECHL).

Wednesday's WBS Penguins UPDATE: Roster Moves & Injury Updates 2/8

Could Simon Despres be on his way back to the AHL?
Just some roster moves to get everyone on the same page:
  • Nick Petersen was called up from Wheeling (ECHL) and re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL). After missing time in the WBS lineup, Petersen was sent down to get back in rare form and regain his scoring touch during the AHL All-Star break. It's safe to say that after nine points (4G-5A) in seven games, including three points (1G-2A) in his first game and at least one point in all but one game, that Petersen is ready to test the AHL waters. It's possible that Petersen could slot right into a top six spot and I'll explain why.
  • Jason Williams was called up to Pittsburgh today as well, and made it to Montreal to register 12:01 of ice time, including 2:21 of power play time in Pittsburgh's 3-2 shootout loss tonight. The Williams call up was made possible because Aron Asham was placed on the injured reserve (IR).
Injury updates on a few guys, a look at the roster and some observations after the jump.

Penguins Fall 4-3 in Shootout

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Penguins nine game win streak against the Bears at the Giant Center comes to an end, as the Bears come from behind and steal the win in the shootout this afternoon, 4-3. Penguins get a point and remain four points ahead of the Bears in the East Division.

If the WBS Penguins practice at Coal Street tomrrow, I'll have all the news and live updates from the rink. If not, the January Grades will be posted.

Scott Munroe vs. Braden Holtby in net. Carl Sneep, who left Friday's game and didn't return, sat out his second straight game after just returning to the lineup from a lengthy absence. Ryan Schnell was a healthy scratch. Same WBS lineup as last night.

Recap after the jump.

No "Mo" Home Woes, Pens Win 5-2

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Penguins beat the Albany Devils 5-2 tonight and fans complaining about the poor performances by the team at the Mohegan Sun Arena are going to have a hard time explaining it now. With the win, the Pens are now 4-0-1-0 in their last five home games.

Joey Mormina's goal in the first period proved to be the game winner, although at the time it seemed like one would be enough with how the Pens came out and took it to the Devils in the first 20 minutes.

A note on Mormina, his 6th goal of the season tonight is a career high for him in a season. Coming into the season, Mormina had tallied 15 goals in 397 career AHL games. He has six goals in just 35 games this season. Truly a great story, a great guy to have in the locker room.

Elsewhere in the division, the Hershey Bears drop another game, a 4-1 loss to the Connecticut Whale. Norfolk cruised to a 6-1 win over Springfield.

Penguins (62 points) lead the East Division by five points over the Bears and Admirals (57 points each).  With the St. John's IceCaps 4-2 loss to Worcester the Penguins are tied for first in the Eastern Conference.

Penguins travel to Hershey for a 2 p.m. tilt on Super Bowl Sunday and we'll have full coverage on Twitter and the blog so stay tuned! GO PENGUINS!

Eric Who? Penguins Rally For 4-3 Win

Friday, February 3, 2012

Let's jump to the third period. The Penguins trail the Bears 3-0 and right off the hop Braden Holtby shoots a puck into the stands, giving the Pens a power play just 17 seconds into the final frame.

While on the man advantage, Bryan Lerg gets plastered into the boards from behind by Kevin Marshall. Team captain Ryan Craig comes right in and drops Marshall like a bad habit, but Marshall gets the extra penalty and the Pens get a 5x3 power play.

Jason Williams converts on the two man advantage with a slap shot blast from the point, giving the Pens life and a two goal deficit. Williams then sets up Brandon DeFazio for a goal just 1:53 later to make it a one goal game.  The Bears take their timeout to try to settle things down but the Penguins were just too much for the Bears in the final 20 tonight.

Robert Bortuzzo ties it at three at the 4:46 mark and just like that it's a tie game.  Three goals in less than five minutes into the third period, and Braden Holtby is replaced in net by Dany Sabourin.

From there, the Penguins would continue to out-hustle and outwork the Bears. It seemed like every Bears player that touched the puck got checked into the boards during the middle of the third period.

Then, Brian Gibbons and Paul Thompson would fail to connect on a quick transition. Luckily, Alex Grant joined the rush and Gibbons didn't give up on the play. Grant's shot would hit the outside of the net and dribble behind the net where Gibbons fed Thompson with a great pass out in front and Thompson buried it, completing the comeback and giving the Pens a 4-3 that they would hold onto the last 4:29 of the game.

The Norfolk Admirals also lost in regulation so a great night for the Penguins. They pull three points ahead of the Bears (who have one game in hand) and five points ahead of the Admirals.

It was Brad Thiessen vs. Braden Holtby in net to start.  Ryan Schnell and Philip Samuelsson were healthy scratches. DeFazio was a late add to the lineup, and there was a surprise late scratch which generated a ton of attention from Penguins fans and fueled trade rumors for most of the night.

Eric Tangradi was a late scratch after taking the warmups and while he appeared fine to those who watched the warmups, WBS beat writer Jonathan Bombulie reported on Twitter that Tangradi was experiencing back spasms and was unable to go tonight.  Let the trade rumors begin!

The Penguins host the Albany Devils tomorrow night before a rematch with the Bears down in Chocolate town on Superbowl Sunday.

Penguins/Bears Ready to Clash

These two teams do not like each other.
Three of the next five games, including tonight's contest, are against intrastate rival Hershey. With the top three teams in the East Division separated by just three points, the division games become basically "a four point game" where big swings in the standings can be made.

Hopefully the Penguins can take care of business and distance themselves from the rest of the division heading down the stretch.

Interesting note on the AHL's website, as Brian Day is listed as being recalled from Wheeling (ECHL) to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) and then suspended by the team. Could Day be on his way to Europe?

In other news, Matt Rust and Cody Wild have signed standard AHL deals. They both came in on 25 game professional tryouts (PTO) and both deservedly get contracts.

Boris Valabik and Alexandre Picard began skating at practice yesterday in red no-contact jerseys but aren't close to returning to the lineup just yet.

Brandon DeFazio also practiced in a red jersey but is day-to-day. We reported DeFazio leaving last Friday's game in Connecticut in the first period after taking a big hit, and while he came back and finished that game he sat out the next night in the 7-4 loss to Binghamton.

The lines from practice yesterday, thanks to WBS writer Jonathan Bombulie:

Gibbons-Lerg-Williams
Tangradi-Street-Thompson
Craig-Sill-Walker
MacIntyre-Rust-Chupp/Schnell

Expect one of Chupp/Schnell to be the healthy scratch along with a defenseman (Samuelsson or Wild).

Live updates on the blog's Twitter feed. Follow us if you aren't already! GO PENGUINS!

Schnell, Chupp Back to Wilkes-Barre

Thursday, February 2, 2012
Just as the WBS Penguins were getting on the ice for practice this morning, the announcement came from the Wheeling Nailers that Ryan Schnell and Cody Chupp are on their way back up to the AHL. I'm not at practice so I'm not sure if those two were already in Wilkes-Barre but they will definitely be available for tomorrow night's game at home against the Hershey Bears.

Interesting move considering the NHL Penguins claimed forward Cal O'Reilly off re-entry waivers yesterday. I figured Colin McDonald would be on his way down, which might be announced soon, giving the AHL Penguins an extra forward.

As it stands right now (McDonald not included), the WBS Penguins have 14 healthy forwards, unless Brandon DeFazio is still banged up from a hard hit he took in Connecticut last Friday. Time will tell. Stay tuned!