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On defense, Simon Despres came back to WBS and replaced Philip Samuelsson.
WBS jumped out to a 2-0 lead on two goals by Alex Grant. His first of the game was a power play shot that evaded Kinkaid at the 15:49 mark of the first period. Grant's second of the game came 1:41 into the second on a tough angle snipe.
But the Devils made a game of it, answering back with two goals of their own in the second period. First, Mike Hoeffel fired a puck past a screened Thiessen to cut the WBS lead in half 3:39 into the second period, less than two minutes after Grant had scored. Then Matt Taormina tied the game at two with a power play tally midway through the period.
The Devils played well in the second period, outshooting the Pens 14-6 in the period but never took the lead. Paul Thompson gave the Pens a lead they would never look back on, beating Kinkaid in a similar fashion as Grant did, high and in tight.
Ryan Craig tapped a rebound past Kinkaid in the third period and Nick Petersen iced it with an empty net goal. 5-2 final.
Next up for the Pens is a visit to the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia to take on an Admirals team that hasn't lost since SuperBowl Sunday. Contemplating a trip down south for Tuesday night's game.
Highland Park Hockey continues it's exclusive road coverage of the AHL's Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins by traveling to Albany, New York to see the Pens and Devils square off at the Times Union Center.
Last night, the Pens clinched their tenth consecutive Calder Cup Playoffs berth with a 3-0 win over the Connecticut Whale in Hartford.
Simon Despres was re-assigned by Pittsburgh and since the NHL Penguins were in Buffalo last night, I would expect him to be in the WBS lineup tonight. Also expect to see Brad Thiessen back in net tonight as Munroe got the shutout win last night.
The Penguins hold a one point lead on the Hershey Bears for 4th in the East. The Devils are fighting for their playoff lives currently in 11th in the East, sitting just two points out of the last playoff spot. Should be a good game.
Follow the blog's Twitter feed for live in-game updates, pictures etc. tonight. GO PENGUINS!
The Penguins came out strong tonight in Hartford, scoring three quick first period goals and riding Scott Munroe's 32 save shutout to victory. With the win, the WBS Penguins have clinched a berth into the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs, the team's tenth straight postseason appearance.
For Munroe, he picks up his 4th shutout of the season and was the Penguins best player tonight, especially in the final 40 minutes. Remember back in October, Munroe shut out the Whale at home in a 1-0 shootout loss.
The Penguins three goal spurt came in a span of 2:12 in the opening period. Jason Williams started things off, getting his 12th of the season from Colin McDonald and Geoff Walker. Then Ben Street notched his team leading 26th of the season 34 seconds later to give the Pens a 2-0 lead.
Cody Wild notched his first of the season tonight giving WBS the three goal cushion 9:01 into the first period. Brian Gibbons and Ryan Craig got the assists.
Good to clinch the playoff berth and glad I got to witness it live. I'll also be in Albany tomorrow night when the Pens take on the Devils. Again, we will have exclusive live coverage with in-game updates from Albany tomorrow night.
|Pens start their weekend road trip in Hartford, Connecticut.|
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) head to Hartford, Connecticut, to play the Whale at the XL Center tonight at 7:05 p.m. EST.
Highland Park Hockey will be live in attendance at the game and will have all the updates on the blog's Twitter feed (@H_P_Hockey) as well as updates on the Facebook page. Join both if you aren't already!!
I will post some game photos in the recap after I've made the 205 mile trek home.
What to Look for in Tonight's Game
- Should be a battle between two teams jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. The Pens have fallen a point behind the Hershey Bears (86 to 85) and are now in 5th in the Conference. The Whale are tied with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the Northeast Division lead where the difference right now is the 3rd or 6th seed in the East.
- The Penguins welcome back a familiar face, goaltender Brad Thiessen. Thiessen was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) from Pittsburgh (NHL) yesterday and could make his first start with the AHL Penguins since February 18th.
- The WBS Penguins will be without defensemen Simon Despres and Brian Strait, who are currently on recall to Pittsburgh. Also, Carl Sneep's season is in jeopardy according to Pens beat writer Jonathan Bombulie. For now this means that Robert Bortuzzo, Alexandre Picard, Joey Mormina and Alex Grant will pull the load on the blue line. Cody Wild and Philip Samuelsson will be the team's 5th and 6th defensemen this weekend.
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this evening the recall of defensemen Brian Strait and Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).
The AHL Penguins are off until Friday so hopefully the banged up defensemen in Pittsburgh will be back in the lineup sometime this week. Pittsburgh plays the Islanders tomorrow night.
WBS practices tomorrow so hopefully the next update will be an exclusive practice update from the Coal Street Rink.
Which Penguins blog keeps you up to date on the AHL's Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins with pictures, videos, interviews, breaking news and game previews/recaps? Look no further than right here at Highland Park Hockey, your source for WBS Penguins hockey!
Despite the hype of more brawls in this afternoon's rematch with the Springfield Falcons, the Penguins were able to end their goal scoring drought after 137:12 without a score. They added four more goals and move one step closer to clinching a playoff spot after a 5-3 win this afternoon.
Actually, the teams only combined for a total of 22 PIM, with 10 of those coming two seconds into the contest when Geoff Walker and Greg Amadio dropped the gloves for a rematch of their 3/11 fight.
The Pens trailed 3-1 midway through the hockey game but rallied for four unanswered goals. Five different goal scorers for WBS today with Williams, Lerg, Gibbons, Grant and Strait getting credit on the score sheet.
The Pens next game isn't until next weekend when they travel to Connecticut and Albany for back to back road games Friday and Saturday night. Highland Park Hockey might be making the trip up, but we will have live in-game updates regardless.
There's multiple reactions to the WBS Penguins games the last two nights:
- The Penguins can't score goals. They haven't since Geoff Walker scored in the third period of the 3/18 game against Binghamton. It's up to 127:32!
- The Penguins have run into some good goaltending. Michael Leighton is two years removed from the Stanley Cup Finals with the NHL Flyers and Eddie Pasquale has four shutouts on the season.
- The Penguins have played well at times and have had their chances to score but a combination of untimely turnovers and bad puck luck have haunted them.
The Pens conclude the three game weekend home stand with a 3 p.m. game tomorrow against the Springfield Falcons.
|Munroe played a heck of a game in net tonight stopping 20 of 21 shots but gets tagged with the loss.|
Jason Akeson scored his 11th goal of the season 8:59 into the game for the Phantoms, the lone goal of the contest. Tye McGinn and Erik Gustafsson got the assists.
Other than that it was a goaltender's duel between Scott Munroe and Michael Leighton. Both goalies made some spectacular saves to keep the game close right to the very end.
Carl Sneep, Philip Samuelsson and Cody Wild were healthy scratches on defense. Joey Mormina returned to the lineup after a brief absence. Up front, Steve MacIntyre served the last of his four game suspension and Matt Rust was a healthy scratch.
The Penguins host the St. John's IceCaps tomorrow night at 7, then host the Springfield Falcons in a much anticipated 3 p.m. Sunday game. For those unfamiliar with what happened last time the Pens and Falcons played, we have the video here.
WBS PENGUINS PRACTICE REPORT 3/21
The Penguins took to the ice at the Coal Street Rink this morning around 10:30 for practice.
Besides Keven Veilleux and Boris Valabik (both out for season) only one roster player was missing from practice today, defenseman Alexandre Picard. I got to speak with WBS Penguins head coach John Hynes after practice and he told me Picard missed practice today for, "personal reasons."
Don't want to look into a situation too much but Jason Williams also missed practices and games this past week due to personal reasons. Could the Pens be without Picard this weekend? I'll ask coach Hynes about his status for this weekend after practice tomorrow.
Despite the session only lasting a little over an hour, it was an up tempo practice with a few odd man rushes and drills, etc. Here are some of the lines I jotted down during practice:
McDonald - Lerg - O'Reilly
Petersen - Street - Walker
Craig - Gibbons - Williams
DeFazio - Rust - Thompson
Sill - MacIntyre
Bortuzzo - Strait
Despres - Mormina
Grant - Wild
Sneep - Samuelsson
Don't read too much into Zach Sill not practicing with a regular threesome today, with 14 forwards on the roster two forwards need to be a healthy scratch and I would imagine that MacIntyre, Rust and DeFazio would be likely candidates.
NEWS OUT OF PITTSBURGH (NHL)
With Sidney Crosby back in action in Pittsburgh, the initial thought was that Eric Tangradi could be re-assigned to the WBS Penguins. Unfortunately for Penguins fans, Joe Vitale was banged up in last Sunday's game against the Devils and missed last night's game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Pittsburgh has both Dustin Jeffrey and Richard Park on the active roster but both have been scratches the past few weeks. Park hasn't played since March 9th. Jeffrey has been out of game action since February 26th.
The other news out of Pittsburgh is that Brent Johnson skated in full pads with some of the coaching staff an hour before the NHL Penguins practice this afternoon at Southpointe. This might mean Johnson's taking the next step into getting closer to a return to the lineup. Could Brad Thiessen have played his last NHL game this season and be re-assigned to the AHL in April?
We'll have to wait and see on some personnel but the AHL Penguins practice again tomorrow before a three-game weekend home stand. If any news breaks, I'll have first reactions on the blog's Twitter handle. Follow us on Twitter for up to the minute updates on the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
After trailing 2-0, the Penguins got to their game and completed a come from behind 3-2 victory over the last place Binghamton Senators this afternoon. Goaltender Scott Munroe got his 100th career AHL win with the victory.
First reaction to this game is that the Petersen-Street-Walker line is back to being what it was earlier in the month: a very active and creative line that has been putting goals in the back of the net. The three compliment each other very well and bring something different to the ice every shift.
The Penguins were out worked and out played in the first period, as the Senators took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on goals by Mark Parrish and Wacey Hamilton.
Luckily the Pens woke up in time for the second period, tying the game via Ben Street's team leading 24th and 25th goals of the season. Brandon DeFazio and Jack Downing dropped the mitts and had a spirited battle late in the period. Both guys landed some good shots.
Geoff Walker played hero with the game winning goal in the third period today. Brian Strait's shot from the point didn't beat Lehner but in the scramble that followed Walker was able to dig a puck out of the scrum in front of the net and beat a diving Lehner with 7:32 left in the game to complete the three goal comeback.
- Scott Munroe got his second start in as many days against Robin Lehner.
- Jason Williams missed his second game in a row, tending to a personal matter. There was speculation by others that he was being recalled to Pittsburgh but this is simply not the case.
- Cody Wild returned to the lineup, taking Carl Sneep's spot on the blue line.
- Joey Mormina is still day to day with what the team has listed this weekend as an illness.
- Steve MacIntyre still has one more game left to serve on his four game suspension
- Here's what the lines looked like today:
Colin McDonald - Bryan Lerg - Cal O'Reilly
Nick Petersen - Ben Street - Geoff Walker
Brandon DeFazio - Zach Sill - Ryan Craig/Brian Gibbons
Paul Thompson - Matt Rust - Ryan Craig/Brian Gibbons
Robert Bortuzzo - Brian Strait
Alexandre Picard - Simon Despres
Alex Grant - Cody Wild
Yesterday, I attended both Penguins hockey games at the AHL and NHL levels.
In Newark, New Jersey the Pittsburgh Penguins won their 11th straight game and second by the score of 5-2 over the Devils. The Penguins were just 1-7 all-time at the Prudential Center coming in, and I was fortunate enough to see a dominating performance by the Pens. They out shot the Devils 43-14 in the game and were the better team for the full 60 minutes.
In Wilkes-Barre, the WBS Penguins came out strong and cruised to a 4-1 victory where Alexandre Picard netted a hat trick and Ryan Craig notched the game winner. There was speculation that Jason Williams who was a surprise scratch for WBS was on his way to Pittsburgh since Joe Vitale was banged up, but that was not the case as Williams missed the game for personal reasons.
All in all, a great hockey day for the Penguins organization. Two wins and more importantly two very impressive performances. Both teams are in action today as the NHL Pens take on the Flyers and the AHL Pens take on the Binghamton Senators.
We will have live coverage of the WBS Penguins game today at 3 p.m.
The Penguins now trail the Admirals by 10 points for first place in the division and it's looking more and more like the Pens will be battling for the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.
The AHL Penguins are off until Saturday at home against the Worcester Sharks at 7:05 p.m EST.
I will be pulling a hockey doubleheader this weekend as I will be live tweeting the NHL Penguins game at the Prudential Center in New Jersey at 1 p.m. then driving back to Wilkes-Barre to live tweet the AHL Penguins game at 7 p.m. All Penguins fans should be following Highland Park Hockey on Twitter for daily updates on the AHL Penguins!
|I was able to take pictures while I was at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield and got a few of someone I didn't think would make a huge impact in the game during the warmups.|
This from the league's press release:
MacIntyre will miss Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s games Wednesday (Mar. 14) at Norfolk, Saturday (Mar. 17) vs. Worcester, Sunday (Mar. 18) vs. Binghamton and Mar. 23 vs. Adirondack.So Mac gets four games. Interesting how the schedule pans out for the Penguins that Steve MacIntyre will be available for Sunday, March 25th's home game. Their opponent - the Springfield Falcons.
I'm not sure that MacIntyre will play in the rematch of the "Battle of the Birds" or even the rest of the way for the AHL Penguins. With the return of Crosby officially Thursday against the Rangers, Eric Tangradi could very well be on his way to the AHL. Also, Bryan Lerg is still day-to-day. If both are able bodies for the WBS Penguins, the forward core will be up to 15 healthy guys so I don't think MacIntyre will see much game action and it's not because of the incident that occurred between the teams this past Sunday.
Highland Park Hockey saw this all unfold live as we made the trip up to Massachusetts. MacIntyre lost his cool and went after basically everyone on the ice not wearing a Penguins uniform. It started and ended with hits to goalie Paul Dainton, but Mac was really trying to get defenseman Greg Amadio to drop his gloves. Amadio declined, which sparked MacIntyre to pop several Falcons players.
For those who didn't see the "Mac Attack" we posted a video of it on our newly created YouTube channel:
|Is Tangradi on his way back to the AHL?|
BREAKING NEWS: Sidney Crosby will play Thursday against the New York Rangers. #PensPer Pens coach Dan Bylsma, Crosby will start the game on the third line, centering Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke. Ray Shero was reported as saying the same, that Crosby would be eased back in on the third line.
This is great news for the entire organization, as I would imagine that Eric Tangradi will join Brian Strait and Simon Despres as recent re-assignments to the AHL to make room.
Crosby has only appeared in 8 games this season recording two goals and 10 assists. His last game in the lineup came back on December 5th against the Boston Bruins. Today's news makes it a great day to be a Penguins fan and I'm sure the excitement of seeing Sid back on the ice in game action is unbearable to most.
Bill Guerin gets ejected for arguing with the officials and minutes later Steve MacIntyre loses his head and goes insane after Falcons defenseman Greg Amadio declines a fight invitation (wisely).
MacIntyre crosschecked Amadio and went after goaltender Paul Dainton, removing his mask and delivering numerous punches to his head. But he wasn't done there, he actually pushed the four man referee crew around to have another go with Dainton and caused a giant line brawl. The result was an eight minute power play for the Falcons, with 7:42 of it to start the third period with.
Despite scoring two power play goals on four chances before the lengthy man advantage, the Falcons wasted the opportunity. Great PK work by the Penguins, who gave the Falcons nothing more than a shot or two the entire power play.
The Pens tied the game late on a power play of their own, with Alex Grant getting his 7th of the season. They went to overtime and eventually the shootout.
Really liked Cal O'Reilly today and he picked up his first two points as a WBS Penguin (two assists). It's only a matter of time before he starts getting on the score sheet on a regular basis.
Patrick Killeen picked up his first AHL win and made some big saves, especially late in the third period.
Bryan Lerg is still out of the lineup. Matt Rust and Philip Samuelsson replaced Brandon DeFazio and Cody Wild today.
Penguins next game is against the Norfolk Admirals down in Virginia at The Scope. The Ads have won 15 in a row! Hopefully the Penguins can end that streak on Wednesday.
A wild game tonight in Bridgeport, as the Penguins went up 2-0 in the first period, then trailed 3-2 for nine seconds before Ben Street's tied it at three. Street's 2nd goal of the game gave the Pens a 4-3 lead with 13:40 to play, but Rhett Rakhshani tied the game at four with an extra attacker goal with 1:20 remaining.
So off to the shootout for the second time in as many nights. Cal O'Reilly and Colin McDonald scored for the Pens and Munroe stopped all four shots that came his way to seal the deal on the victory. Munroe stopped all six shooters in last night's shootout win in Providence.
Third stop on the road trip is Springfield for a 3 p.m. EST face-off against the Falcons tomorrow afternoon. Highland Park Hockey might be making the 239 mile trip tomorrow morning to catch the game live! Stay tuned!!
The Penguins will travel to Bridgeport overnight and play the Sound Tigers in the Arena at Harbor Yard tomorrow night.
Quick recap after the jump.
It was Scott Munroe vs. Eddie Pasquale in net. Bryan Lerg (undisclosed) did not take the warmups. With Brian Strait in Pittsburgh, Alex Grant replaced him in the lineup. Here's what the Penguins went with to start:
Colin McDonald - Cal O'Reilly - Jason Williams
Paul Thompson - Brian Gibbons - Ryan Craig
Nick Petersen - Ben Street - Geoff Walker
Brandon DeFazio - Matt Rust - Zach Sill
Alexandre Picard - Robert Bortuzzo
Alex Grant - Joey Mormina
Simon Despres - Carl Sneep
The St. John's IceCaps came out firing, scoring three goals on their first three shots of the game, effectively chasing Scott Munroe from net just 13:26 into the game. Munroe made 0 saves on 3 shots Patrick Killeen came on in relief, stopping 14 of 16 shots he faced.
WBS would get on the board late in the first courtesy of Simon Despres to cut the deficit to 3-1 before the first intermission.
Brian Gibbons would make it a 3-2 game at the tail end of the middle frame, splitting the defense and scoring with a defender basically on his back. But that's as close as the Pens would get tonight.
Tough night for the Pens. But maybe weekend road trip through the northeast is just what they need to get back on track heading down the stretch. WBS on the road all weekend and we will have everyone covered with live updates along with the usual pregame/post game reports. All right here at Highland Park Hockey!!
|Chupp and Samuelsson didn't make the 22 man roster but could play in the playoffs if injuries/call-ups arise.|
Check the roster here, then come back for some thoughts on the 22 selected players and a quick pregame report of tonight's game against the St. Johns IceCaps.
There weren't any surprises with the WBS Penguins this year on Clear Day, I'd say 20 of the 22 were locks and that the last two spots were given to the two players who deserved it.
Guys who missed out like forwards Matt Rust, Steve MacIntyre, and defensemen Philip Samuelsson and Cody Wild can still play if injury or recall arises. Currently Patrick Killeen is filling in for Brad Thiessen (NHL).
One thing I think I let slip through the cracks yesterday was the recall of Brian Strait to Pittsburgh. Both Kris Letang and Deryk Engelland are out of the lineup. Neither practiced today so Strait stays in Pittsburgh for the time being.
So WBS defense should look like this tonight:
Bortuzzo, Picard, Mormina, Grant, Despres, Sneep with Sameulsson and Wild scratched
Expect Scott Munroe in goal and the same forward group that played Sunday.
Of course if anything changes between now and game time our up to the minute Twitter feed has all of the breaking news regarding the Penguins. Follow us at @H_P_Hockey!
We're also on Facebook! Come check us out here: Highland Park Hockey
Last season the WBS Penguins had two goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards make up their clear day roster. So without further ado, expect the roster to look like this:
- Each Clear Day roster consists of a maximum of 22 players. According to AHL by-laws, only those players listed on a team’s Clear Day roster are eligible to compete in the remainder of the 2011-12 AHL regular season and in the Calder Cup Playoffs, unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension.
- Teams may also add signed draft choices and players signed to amateur tryout contracts, provided that their respective Junior seasons are complete.
The Penguins played their first game in six days this afternoon and really looked just like that: a team that hadn't played in awhile.
Especially in the first half of the first period, the outlet passes weren't crisp and there were plenty of defensive zone and neutral zone turnovers. Scott Munroe made some nice saves early on to keep the Pens in the game.
Scott Munroe returned between the pipes against Scott Leighton this afternoon. Carl Sneep played in his first game in over a month, while Alex Grant was a surprise scratch to make room on the blue line. Here's how the lines looked to start the game:
Lerg - Street - Walker
McDonald - O'Reilly - Williams
Gibbons - Craig - Thompson
DeFazio - Sill - Petersen
Strait - Bortuzzo
Picard - Mormina
Sneep - Despres
Former Hershey Bears forward Matthew Ford has really clicked in Adirondack since being traded earlier in the season. He gave the Phantoms a 1-0 lead late in the first, tapping home a rebound on a bad angle shot by Oliver Lauridsen.
Ben Street tied the game at one early in the second period while the Penguins were on the power play. Street's 19th of the season was assisted by Joey Mormina and Simon Despres.
Brian Strait broke his stick on an outlet pass and the Phantoms took advantage. Ford got his second of the game and 9th in 13 games with the Phantoms and gave his team a 2-1 lead. The lone assist went to Garret Roe.
Bryan Lerg got a shorthanded breakaway in the final seconds of the second period but was robbed by Leighton, keeping the one goal lead intact for the home team.
In the third period, Brian Gibbons led a 3-on-2 rush and though Petersen's shot missed the mark, he followed the play and flung a puck into Leighton's crease where Paul Thompson netted his 9th goal of the season.
Brandon DeFazio netted his 9th of season too just 20 seconds after Thompson's goal and just like that the Pens took their first lead of the game. They were able to hold the lead thanks to some big saves by Scott Munroe, who stopped 26 of 28 shots that came his way.
The Penguins return home for a Tuesday night match with the St. John's IceCaps before heading up to the northeast for three weekend road games.
The organization is finally getting healthy, with only Sidney Crosby (concussion), Tyler Kennedy (ankle) and Brent Johnson (illness 2/24) out of the lineup in Pittsburgh and Carl Sneep (upper body) , Scott Munroe (lower body), Boris Valabik (hand) and Keven Veilleux (knee) out in Wilkes-Barre.
After the jump, stats and grades for everyone who suited up this month. The player of the month for February is...