Garrett Wilson and Oskar Sundqvist were key components of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins success this season. Wilson recorded 31 points, the second-highest total in his six-year career, while being limited to just 59 games due to injury. Sundqvist finished third on the team in both goals (20) and points (46), despite spending significant stretches in Pittsburgh.
The duo has more than 380 regular season AHL contests between them, but just a total of four Calder Cup playoff games.
But don’t let that lack of postseason experience scare you.
Wilson’s lone taste of the AHL playoffs came in 2015 as a member of the San Antonio Rampage, who dropped three straight games to the Oklahoma City Barons.
“We had a good team that year,” said Wilson, whose third-seeded Rampage squad was vanquished by the six-place Barons in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. “It didn’t really end up the way we thought we were going to.”
While his time chasing the Calder Cup has been short so far, Wilson did see an extended playoff stay while helping the Owen Sound Attack to the Ontario Hockey League championship in 2011. He also gained additional experience by appearing in six games with the Florida Panthers during the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I have playoff experience, and I know how much it ramps up and how intense it gets,” said Wilson. “It’s really exciting and I’m really ready to go for it this year.”
Wilson took a lot away from his time with the Panthers last season, and he believes that could prove beneficial this spring.
“Just how much each shift really counts, every hit, every shot on net. It’s really magnified. Everything is important in the series and it all takes it toll,” he said. “Seeing some of the guys there, the older guys like [Roberto] Luongo and [Jaromir] Jagr, they’ve been there before and [I saw] how much they actually wanted it. To win a championship is really special, and I’m going to do everything I can to help this team win one.”
Like Wilson, Sundqvist spent last season on an NHL roster during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He suited up for two games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and spent the entire run to the championship with the team.
And while the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal for every hockey player, Sundqvist is excited to get a bigger taste of postseason play.
“It’s going to be really fun, and I think this team can do something special,” he said. “I’m real excited to get to play playoff hockey again.”
Sundqvist quadrupled his goal output from his rookie season (from five goals to 20 this year), and saw more than a handful of highlight reel tallies. But he knows that once you get into the playoffs, things start to tighten up quite a bit.
“In the playoffs it’s not about nice goals. You need to get those goals around the crease and bang a rebound in or something like that,” he stated. “That’s what most of the goals are going to look like in this series.”
And he has no doubts that the Penguins will be prepared once the puck drops in Game One on Friday night.
“We’re as ready as we can be. It’s going to be a fun series against Providence.”
The Penguins and Bruins begin their best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinal series this Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, and the teams face off in Game Two in Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon.
The series switches to Wilkes-Barre for Game Three on Thursday, April 27 at 7:05pm. Individual tickets for Game Three are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, by calling 570-208-7367, or online at TicketMaster.com.
For information on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins playoff packages, which include a $6 food voucher for every game, just fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly.