UTICA, N.Y. – In a wild night of back-and-forth, end-to-end, action, the North Division won the 2018 AHL All-Star Challenge three-on-three tournament at Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York.
The Atlantic Division didn’t make it to the final, going 1-2-0 in its three games, but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins All-Star Daniel Sprong recorded two assists during the course of the night.
“We had fun, and we had some laughs out there,” Sprong said. “I’ll always remember this experience. I’ll remember the friends I saw and the new friends I made… This whole thing is just all about fun.”
This year’s AHL All-Star Challenge format was the same as the two years prior, with team representing each of the league’s four divisions skating in a three-on-three round robin tournament. The two divisions with the best records at the end of the initial phase played went on to face one another in the final.
Sprong and the Atlantic Division first faced off against the Central Division in the second game of the night, and won that match-up in convincing fashion, 5-2.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s leading goal scorer notched an assist in the Atlantic’s second contest, dishing the puck to Providence’s Austin Czarnik when their team had their goalie pulled for an extra attacker in an attempt to tie the game. Unfortunately, that goal came a bit too late, as the Pacific Division defeated Sprong and company, 4-3.
In the Atlantic’s last game, Sprong used a lengthy pass from the defensive zone to the far blue line that led to a breakaway goal for Lehigh Valley’s T.J. Brennan. The rookie’s long-distance helper put the Atlantic into a 3-0 lead with 2:58 left in the game.
“I don’t think that’s happening next time we play [the Phantoms],” Sprong said of his feed to Brennan. “I told him he had to return the favor eventually this year. But you know, you set up a guy like that for a breakaway, he had a really good chance of scoring.”
However, the Atlantic’s 3-0 lead disappeared in a flash, as the North Division stormed back with four goals in 2:38 to win the game, 4-3, and clinch a date in the final with the undefeated Pacific.
C.J. Smith of the Rochester Americans scored the lone goal of the final, as the North took down the Pacific for the title, 1-0.
Sprong will be back on the ice with the Penguins for their next game on Friday, Feb. 2 against the Hershey Bears. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s showdown with Hershey is also a WBRE/WYOU Eyewitness News Fan Friday with lower bowl seating available for $14 and select draught beers on sale for $2 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Puck drop between the Penguins and Bears is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Individual tickets for all Penguins home games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.
Season ticket packages for the 19th season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.