Devils claim Farnham from Penguins - 10-26-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Bobby Farnham era has come to an end in Pittsburgh.

The Devils have claimed the rambunctious left winger off waivers from the Penguins. Farnham will be reunited with Devils coach John Hynes in New Jersey. Hynes previously coached Farnham with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Farnham, 26, appeared in three games this season and recorded no points as well as five minutes. Farnham made his NHL debut last season by appearing in 11 games and recorded no points along with 24 penalty minutes.

A strong skater with limited puckhandling abilities, Farnham was given a chance by the Penguins primarily for his penchant for producing mayhem by forchecking or fighting rather than producing offense.

Farnham, undrafted out of Brown University, originally joined the Penguins organization when he signed an ECHL contract with the Wheeling Nailers in 2012. After nine games, four points and 46 penalty minutes with the Nailers in 2012-13, he signed an an AHL deal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. In only 65 AHL games that season, Farnham scored 11 points and racked up 274 penalty minutes.

Farnham spent the entire 2013-14 season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He played in 64 games with 14 points and 166 penalty minutes. During the 2014 offseason, Farnham earned his first NHL contract when he was signed to a one-year, two-way deal last season, in addition to making his NHL debut, Farnham played in 62 AHL contests, recorded 14 points and racked up 226 penalty minutes.

This past offseason, the Penguins re-signed him to another one-year, two-way deal.

-EN Says: Stop and think about Farnham's ascent to the NHL for a moment. He turned an ECHL contract into NHL work. That's really difficult to do for positional players (as opposed to goaltenders). If you're a positional player in the ECHL, there's probably a reason for that.

Even if he isn't a particularly skilled palyer, the fact that Farnham even reached the NHL is a triumph in a lot of ways.

As far as him moving to the Devils, it really won't impact the Penguins that much. He was a healthy scratch for five of the Penguins' first eight games even despite the fact that the Penguins' bottom two lines have been impacted by injuries as of late. And with Beau Bennett returning to the lineup soon and Eric Fehr on the verge of making his Penguins debut, the likelihood of Farnham seeing any playing time in the near future was even less likely.

While he is hardly imposing at 5-foot-10, 188 pounds, Farnham was one of the few players on the NHL roster who didn't mind fighting, particularly when a teammate was wronged. He fought Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki Oct. 15 after Borowiecki dropped right winger Bryan Rust with a neutral zone hit:

General manager Jim Rutherford has said the team prefers to have more skill in the lineup and they would try to fill any needs for toughness on an ad hoc basis. Even beyond the NHL roster, there aren't many sources of that in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. 

Farnham will get a much better chance at the NHL level with the Devils. In the midst of a rebuilding project, the Devils don't have nearly the depth up front at the forward position as the Penguins do. Additionally, Farnham was a favorite of Hynes' during their time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. 

(Photos: Daniel Kubus/Getty Images and Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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Pitt releases depth chart for North Carolina

Written by Sam Werner on .

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 10.01.39 AM

Pitt released its depth chart for Thursday night's game against North Carolina today. You can see it above, and here are a couple of notes...

- The only real change this week is that Terrish Webb and Pat Amara are listed as co-starters at the free safety spot. This is probably a product of Webb's ankle injury (he didn't travel to Syracuse this weekend), but Amara has also played relatively well in his place. Webb looked to be a bit more active in practice today (though the team was in shorts, so it's tough to really tell). If he can play Saturday, I'd expect a rotation between those two guys. It seems like Reggie Mitchell still isn't quite there yet.

- The only other note from the depth chart is that Tyler Boyd is still listed as the Panthers' starting punt returner, despite Avonte Maddox handling those duties on Saturday. This could just be an oversight, but it'll be interesting to see who the lead punt returner is on Thursday night.

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WPIAL changes gears, gives Allderdice boys soccer home game

Written by Mike White on .

The WPIAL has done an about face, and now the Allderdice boys soccer team gets a home game.

The WPIAL has decided to change the site of tonight's Class AAA first-round playoff game. Instead of Allderdice playing at Peters Township, the game will be played at Allderdice's home field, Cupples Stadium on the South Side.

Hey, maybe this Varsity Blog had an effect.

The WPIAL released soccer playoff brackets last Wednesday. This blog pointed out on Thursday that it just didn't seem right and looked bad that the WPIAL didn't give Allderdice a home game. Allderdice is a City League school that plays in the WPIAL in soccer as an associate member. Of all the first-round games in the Class AAA boys and girls playoffs, Allderdice was the only higher seeded team that was not playing at home. And the game wasn't even at a neutral site. It was AT Peters Township.

There were neutral site games in other classes. But still, not one higher seeded team had to play an away game - except Allderdice. Peters Township is the No. 11 seed and Allderdice, a section champion, No. 6.

It was a head scratcher. And maybe this was coincidence but what made the situation look even worse was that the head of the WPIAL soccer steering committee is Joe Maize, a former Peters Township athletic director and current baseball coach at Peters Township.

Allderdice principal Melissa Friez commented that the game made it seem like the WPIAL had something personal against the City League and Allderdice. WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said the league meant no slight toward Allderdice. And he also said the game site would not be changed.

But on Friday, O'Malley talked with Friez and changed his stance, agreeing to put the game at Cupples Stadium instead of Peters Township.

Good move, WPIAL. Allderdice playing AT Peters Township wasn't right. A situation had been corrected.

"I feel it's justified," Friez said of the site switch. "I wouldn't have fought as hard as I did if we didn't believe it was the right thing to do.

"We appreciate the reconsideration and appreciate the opportunity to play on our field and focus on the home game. Now roll 'Dice."


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Empty Netter Assists - Bennett recovers - 10-26-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Give right winger Beau Bennett (above) this much. He found a new and creative way to get injured.

-Right winger Bryan Rust could be sidelined long-term with a suspected right hand or arm injury.

-Left winger Bobby Farnham was placed on waivers.

-Bennett speaks:

-Head coach Mike Johnston speaks:

-Forward Derek Army had a goal and two assists for the Wheeling Nailers in a 4-3 win against the Brampton Beast.

-Happy 23rd birthday to current Penguins defenseman Adam Clendening. Acquired along with Nick Bonino and a draft pick in a deal which sent Brandon Sutter and a draft pick to the Canucks, Clendening is in his first season with the Penguins. In one game this season, he has no points.

-Happy 63rd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Joe Noris. A third-round pick in 1971, Noris' Penguins career amounted to 35 games and seven points in 1971-72. Midway through 1972-73, he was traded to the Blues in exchange for Jim Shires.

-After the Jump: The Kings pull one out - literally - against the Oilers.

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Week 8 rewind: Successful or not, Pine-Richland should have tried for two

Written by Mike White on .

Notes, thoughts, anecdotes from the eighth week of the high school football season. The latest Post-Gazette WPIAL and state rankings are at the end of the blog.

For Pine-Richland and Central Catholic, it's all about tiebreaker points. And the point is, Pine-Richland should've gone for two points.

Now, Pine-Richland will likely have to settle for second place in the Northern Eight while Central Catholic will likely finish first instead of third.

This all has to do with Friday night's Central Catholic at Pine-Richland game. A terrific contest. Pine-Richland scored with a little more than two minutes left to make it 28-27. Pine-Richland kicked the extra point to tie and then lost, 35-28, when Central Catholic scored late and kicked the extra point.

Now let me set up why I believe Pine-Richland would've been better off trying for the two-point conversion:

Pine-Richland is done with conference games. Central Catholic plays Butler this week and North Allegheny plays North Hills. If Central and NA win, there will be a three-way tie for first in the Northern Eight. Head-to-head doesn't break the tie and neither does the WPIAL's Gardner Points system. What will break the tie is the WPIAL tiebreaker points system, and that's where Pine-Richland loses out.

In the WPIAL tiebreaker points system, points are earned and lost by scores in conference games. A maximum of 10 points can be earned in a win and minus 10 in a loss. In other words, if a team wins a game, 21-7, it earns 10 points. If it is defeated, 28-21, it loses seven.

Heading into this past Friday's games, Pine-Richland had 57 tiebreaker points, North Allegheny 37 and Central Catholic 33. Now it is Pine-Richland 50, Central Catholic 40 and North Allegheny 37. Pine-Richland doesn't have a conference game this week, so the Rams' point total will remain at 50. If North Allegheny beats North Hills by 10 or more, the most NA can have is 47. It is highly likely Central Catholic will beat Butler by 10 or more, so Central Catholic would have 50.

Pine-Richland and Central Catholic would tie in tiebreaker points. But whenever possible, the system always reverts back to head-to-head to break ties. Because Central Catholic beat Pine-Richland, Central Catholic gets first. That leaves Pine-Richland and NA. Because Pine beat NA, then Pine gets second and NA third.

I'm not sure if coaches realized those point totals heading into this Friday's game. And maybe it's hard to ask a coach to think so far ahead with points when he has 25 seconds to decide a play call. But I have to admit that immediately after Pine scored to make it 28-27, I thought they should go for two because I knew the points situation.

Here goes why Pine should've gone for two:

* If the Rams convert, they are ahead, 29-28. Maybe they win, which would clinch first. But even if Central goes down and scores, Central Catholic might kick the extra point and win, 35-29. In that case, Pine-Richland would have 51 tiebreaker points and could not be caught, no matter what Central Catholic does against Butler. Then, by virtue of beating Central Catholic earlier this year, North Allegheny would be second and Central third.

* If Pine-Richland went for two and didn't convert, Central Catholic probably would have taken over and simply tried to get a first down - and not a score - to run out the clock. If Pine-Richland lost, 28-27, Pine would still finish first by virtue of more tiebreaker points.

Bottom line is this: If Pine-Richland would've lost by six or less, it would win the conference's No. 1 seed. Central Catholic would've fallen to third. 

Does it mean much? Well, it will mean a slightly higher seed in the WPIAL playoffs for Central.

Wise for 1,000

It has been mentioned this year that Pine-Richland sophomore sensation Phil Jurkovec has a good chance to become only the third quarterback in WPIAL history to run and pass for 1,000 yards in the regular season.

But there's another quarterback likely to accomplish the feat.

Beaver's Darius Wise (pictured) needs only 56 yards passing to reach 1,000. He already has 1,000 rushing.

Penn-Trafford ranks

Penn-Trafford has moved into the Post-Gazette state rankings at No. 5 in Class AAAA. This is the Warriors' first appearance in the P-G top five. Central Dauphin, near Harrisburg, was No. 2 but dropped out after a 24-21 loss to Cumberland Valley.

In the WPIAL rankings, Central Catholic is now No. 3 in AAAA, Pine-Richland 4 and North Allegheny 5.


1. Woodland Hills 8-0
2. Penn-Trafford 8-0
3. Central Catholic 7-1
4. Pine-Richland 7-1
5. North Allegheny 7-1

1. West Allegheny 7-1
2. Belle Vernon 8-0
3. Central Valley 7-1
4. Franklin Regional 7-1
5. Ringgold 7-1

1. Aliquippa 8-0
2. South Fayette 8-0
3. Beaver Falls 8-0
4. Washington 8-0
5. Steel Valley 7-1

1. Clairton 8-0
2. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 8-0
3. Jeannette 7-1
4. Shenango 7-1
5. Frazier 8-0

1. Allderdice 4-4
2. Brashear 5-3
3. University Prep 5-3


1. Woodland Hills 8-0
2. Downingtown East 8-0
3. Upper Dublin 8-0
4. West Lawn Wilson 7-1
5. Penn-Trafford 8-0

1. Imhotep Charter 8-0
2. Archbishop Wood 8-0
3. West Allegheny 7-1
4. Conneaut 8-0
5. Bethlehem Catholic 7-1

1. Aliquippa 8-0
2. South Fayette 8-0
3. Wyomissing 8-0
4. Berks Catholic 8-0
5. Southern Columbia 8-0

1. Clairton 8-0
2. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 8-0
3. Sharpsville 8-0
4. Camp Hill 8-0
5. Guilfoyle 8-0 


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