December 28, 2005 is a date that Colby Armstrong will likely never forget.
It was immediately after recording a goal and two assists against the Hartford Wolf Pack that night that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward received a promotion to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he spent the next seven seasons as an NHL regular.
That night was also the last time the foursome of Armstrong, Dennis Bonvie, Chris Kelleher and Alain Nasreddine appeared together until this week.
That handful of former Penguins returned to NEPA to take part in the team’s inaugural Goal in One Golf Classic, presented by GWC Warranty. Those skaters joined past and present Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaches at a VIP reception on Sunday night, before hitting the links with more than 80 golfers on Monday afternoon. The tournament, a benefit to raise funds for the Penguins GOALS Foundation and Blue Chip Farm Animal Rescue, was held at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club in Mountaintop.
“Honestly, time flies, but it doesn’t seem like that long ago,” said Armstrong, who spent parts of four seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. “But the cool thing about it now is these guys are all involved in hockey, and I kind of get to do it from the other side now.”
Armstrong now serves as a post-game analyst on Pittsburgh Penguins television broadcasts, and Nasreddine is entering his third season as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. Bonvie and Kelleher, who still make their homes in Luzerne County, are scouts with the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild.
“We’re all a little fatter, a little older,” quipped Armstrong. “But we’re still involved with the game and i think it’s pretty cool.”
The group had plenty of time to catch up with one another, as they teamed to shoot a 61 and take home the title in the team’s inaugural summer tournament.
“Every time we get together, it’s still those stories. And I know you want to hear one or two but, they’re definitely stories we can’t really tell you,” laughed Nasreddine.
“It’s a good thing there was no social media back when we played,” replied Kelleher.
The group, which one social media user call the ‘Mount Rushmore of WBS Penguins’, also spent time reminiscing with former coaches during the two-day event, including Glenn Patrick, Michel Therrien, John Hynes and Mike Sullivan.
“It just shows too how Wilkes-Barre had an impact on a lot of people,” said Nasreddine. “Everyone’s back. Even Sully, who just won two Cups, and he’s here. [It just shows] how important Wilkes-Barre was to us four and all of these people who showed up.”