#WBSPens Team Preview Part One: Goaltending

Monday, September 30, 2013
Brad Thiessen won't be in net this season for the WBS Penguins, and for now neither will Jeff Zatkoff. Who's taking over the AHL Pens net in 2013-14?

With Tomas Vokoun out in Pittsburgh, Jeff Zatkoff steps in to backup Marc-Andre Fleury and leaves Wilkes-Barre with four goaltenders to choose from to fill their roster for opening night. The four invited to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins camp: Eric Hartzell, Peter Mannino, Jeff DesLauriers and Andy Chiodo. 

Hartzell, who signed with the Penguins before the end of last season, came to Penguins Development camp in July looking to prove he has what it takes to become a full-time athlete at the professional level. He's a big athletic goaltender, something the AHL Penguins haven't seen since their split affiliation with Edmonton saw Jeff DesLauriers on the team a few years back.

More on DesLauriers below but back to the only goaltender on an NHL contract with the WBS Penguins.

Hartzell got the start in the Penguins first preseason game last Wednesday in Brighton, NY and got tested early and often, stopping 13 of the 15 shots he faced in the first period of that game. The Pens swapped goaltenders midway through the 2nd period that game but Hartzell got the start again last night and played the full game, stopping 20 of 21 shots and earning a 2-1 win over the Hershey Bears.

It was the only game a WBS goaltender played the duration, which could be a sign he's an early front runner for the starting job with Wilkes-Barre this season. He's a first year pro with potential and regardless if whether he's the starter or not, his preseason performance has earned him a spot on the team with its current goaltender situation. He will get into some AHL games in his rookie season.

The WBS Penguins signed netminder Peter Mannino to an AHL contract this offseason, but he hasn't been on the ice for any of the AHL Pens preseason skates, practices, scrimmages, games etc. Mannino, who spent last season with the Manchester Monarchs, could be injured or on his way to Wheeling but I haven't heard anything about him this preseason.

The Penguins brought in two goaltenders on professional tryouts to create competition in camp. Both familiar to Penguins fans who saw them play in Wilkes-Barre over the years.

Jeff DesLauriers was never Pittsburgh property but played in Wilkes-Barre during the years when the Edmonton Oilers shared the Pens AHL affiliate. He got the start in the preseason home opener Friday night and stopped all 7 shots he faced in 30:33 of work. He also finished the second half of Saturday night's game, stopping 21 of 23 shots he saw in an attempt to slow down the Hershey Bears' offense in a 6-1 loss. DesLauriers backed up Hartzell last night, though he didn't get into the game. I think DesLauriers will be the backup Saturday.

Andy Chiodo is well known in AHL Penguins land. He's the playoff hero who helped the Penguins overcome a 3-1 playoff series deficit against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who oddly enough open the season at home against the Penguins on Saturday. He fought Antero Nittymaki when the Pens and the then Philadelphia Phantoms met in the postseason before too. The list goes on and on.

Chiodo played in the second half of the Pens preseason opener in New York and played well, stopping 15 of the 16 shots that came his way in regulation and overtime (33:27 played). He got the start in Hershey Saturday night and didn't fare well, stopping 9 of 13, but the lineups were a lot different. Hershey dressed the stronger lineup up front on Saturday in front of their home fans and the Penguins did the same thing last night.

With the season starting for real on Saturday, the Penguins certainly have decisions to make. I believe all three are staying with the team for now and I'll explain why.

Hartzell is under an NHL contract, played well in the preseason and I project him to be the starter for opening night based off what I've seen from Development Camp, WBS camp and the AHL preseason. DesLauriers and Chiodo are both on professional tryout contracts (PTO). They can dress up to 25 games under a PTO so there is no rush to sign either one to a contract and no real reason to relieve them of their duties. EDIT: Andy Chiodo was released from his tryout this afternoon.

In other Penguins news, forwards Andrew Ebbett and Chris Conner cleared waviers at noon and are eligible to play in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL). I'll have more on the forwards in Part Two of my four-part preview of the AHL Penguins tomorrow.


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