The puck will drop at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games on Wednesday, February 14, with a pair of opening round games taking place at 7:10 am Eastern Time. And there will be no shortage of familiar faces for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans throughout the tournament.
In addition to current Penguins forward Christian Thomas, nine former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be pulling on jerseys for their national teams in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Here’s a quick look at theses blasts from the past with ties to our team.
Andrew Ebbett (C) – The Canadian forward played parts of two seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2013-15), recording 84 points (30+54) in 88 games. Ebbett also played in 29 playoff games over the two seasons, and scored 15 points (3+12).
Ebbett appeared in 33 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in parts of two seasons (2013-2015), recording seven points (1+6).
The Vernon, BC native also spent time with the Binghamton Senators (2006-2007), Portland Pirates (2007-2008), Iowa Chops (2008-2009), San Antonio Rampage (2010-2011) and Chicago Wolves (2012-2013) in the AHL.
While in the NHL Ebbett suited up for the Anaheim Ducks (2007-2010), Chicago Blackhawks (2009-2010), Minnesota Wild (2009-2010), Phoenix Coyotes (2010-2011) and the Vancouver Canucks (2011-2013). In his eight NHL seasons, Ebbett totaled 224 games and 71 points (26+45).
Ebbett has spent the past three seasons in Switzerland with Bern SC. He currently he has 46 points (13+33) in 47 games with the club this season.
Chris Lee (D) – A journeyman defenseman, Lee spent his final North American season (2009-10) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 39 points (9+30) in 79 regular season game.
Prior to his time with the Penguins, Lee saw action with the Albany River Rats, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and the Iowa Stars in the AHL.
He ventured overseas starting in 2010-11, and for the past five seasons has been a mainstay on the blueline for Magnitogrosk Metallurg in the KHL. He finished second on the team in scoring last season with 65 points (14+51) in 60 games.
Ondrej Nemec (D) – Drafted 35th overall in the 2002 Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nemec played part of one season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2003-2004), appearing in seven games and scoring a total of three points (1+2).
After leaving the Penguins, the defenseman returned to Europe where he has played for 14 seasons in the Czech Extraleague and the Continental Hockey League. He currently plays for Brno Kometa in the Czech Republic, and has nine points (5+4) in 38 games.
Matthias Plachta (LW) – Plachta was acquired by the Penguins late in the 2015-16 season, and put up seven points (2+5) in 20 games with the club. He began his only AHL season with the Springfield Falcons, posting another seven points (2+5) in 46 contests.
Plachta returned to his native Germany after his brief foray into North American, and has suited up for the Mannheim Eagles for the past two seasons (as well as for six years before making the jump to the AHL). He currently ranks third on the team with 30 points (11+19) in 49 games.
Patrick Thoresen (LW) – An Edmonton Oilers signee, Thoresen appeared in five games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2006-07, posting six points (1+5) in his short stay with the team. He went on to appear in 29 AHL games with Springfield the following year, recording 26 points (13+13) with the club.
In the NHL, Thoresen combined for 24 points (6+18) in 106 games with the Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers (2006-08), before returning to Europe for the 2008-09 season.
He has spent the majority of the past 10 years with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL, with whom he currently plays.
The 2018 Games will be the third time Thoresen has represented his country at the Olympics (2010, 2014).
Tomas Surovy (LW) – A fourth round selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Surovy spent parts of five seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2001-06), appearing in 239 regular season games with the club. The left wing currently ranks second on the Penguins’ all-time lists in goals (89) and points (187); is tied for second in game-winning goals (14); and is fourth in power play goals (27).
Surovy appeared in 126 gams with the Pittsburgh Penguins between 2002-2006, posting 59 points (27+32) and 71 penalty minutes. He has been playing professionally in Europe since the start of the 2006-07 season, and currently suits up for his hometown team, Banská Bystrica HC 05, in the Slovakian Extraleague.
Surovy has previously represented Slovakia at the 2006 Turin and 2014 Sochi Games, recording two points (1+1) in 10 Olympic contests. He is the seventh former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skater to be named to his national team for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Bryan Young (D) – A fifth round draft pick (2004) of the Edmoton Oilers, Young appeared in 10 games with the Penguins in 2006-07, recording one assist. He spent the majority of his time in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons (2007-10), and also appeared in 22 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (2006-07).
Young appeared in 17 games with Edmonton over two seasons (2006-08), going scoreless with 10 penalty minutes.
Following the 2009-10 season, Young took his game to South Korea, and has recorded 192 points (39+153) in 283 games with Gangwon High1 and the Daemyung Killer Whales, with whom he currently plays. He became a naturalized citizen of South Korea in 2014, allowing him to represent the country this year.
Chad Kolarik (C) – The Abington, PA native spent one season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2012-13), in which he appeared in 35 regular season games, recording 33 points. He also suited up in 15 playoff games, scoring 11 points.
Before joining the Penguins, Kolarik spent time with the San Antonio Rampage (2007-10), the Syracuse Crunch (2009-10), the Springfield Falcons (2010-11) and the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale (2010-11, 2012-13) in the AHL. He also appeared in six NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers, recording one assist.
The former seventh round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004 has spent the past five season playing in Europe. He currently plays in Germany with the Mannheim Eagles, and has 44 points in 44 games this season.
Noah Welch (D) – The Boston, MA native was drafted 54th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2001. Welch spent parts of two seasons with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2005-2007) during which he appeared in 104 games, scoring 50 points. An AHL All-Star in 2007, Welch also saw action with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2005-2007), playing in 27 games and recording six points.
The former second round pick also suited up with the Rochester Americans (2006-2007, 2008-2009) and Chicago Wolves (2009-2011) in the AHL, as well as the Florida Panthers (2006-2009), Tampa Bay Lightning (2008-2009) and the Atlanta Thrashers (2010-2011) in the NHL. Welch totaled 75 games in the NHL and nine points
Welch has been playing in Europe for the past seven seasons. He currently plays in Sweden with the Vaxjo HC and has appeared in 26 games this season.
The schedule for the preliminary round, which features all 12 nations participating in round robin play within their three groups, is listed below. For a full explanation of the remaining schedule, seeding and rules, visit the International Ice Hockey Federation website.
OLYMPIC MEN’S ICE HOCKEY QUALIFYING PRELIMINARY ROUND SCHEDULE
|DATE||TIME||GROUP||TEAM 1||TEAM 2|
|Wednesday, February 14||7:10am||B||Slovakia||OAR*|
|Wednesday, February 14||7:10am||B||USA||Slovenia|
|Wednesday, February 14||10:10pm||C||Finland||Germany|
|Thursday, February 15||2:40am||C||Norway||Sweden|
|Thursday, February 15||7:10am||A||Czech Republic||South Korea|
|Thursday, February 15||7:10am||A||Switzerland||Canada|
|Thursday, February 15||10:10pm||B||USA||Slovakia|
|Friday, February 16||2:40am||B||Slovenia||OAR*|
|Friday, February 16||7:10am||C||Norway||Finland|
|Friday, February 16||7:10am||C||Sweden||Germany|
|Friday, February 16||10:10pm||A||Czech Republic||Canada|
|Saturday, February 17||2:40am||A||Switzerland||South Korea|
|Saturday, February 17||7:10am||B||USA||OAR*|
|Saturday, February 17||7:10am||B||Slovakin||Slovenia|
|Saturday, February 17||10:10pm||C||Norway||Germany|
|Sunday, February 18||2:40am||A||Switzerland||Czech Republic|
|Sunday, February 18||7:10am||A||Canada||South Korea|
|Sunday, February 18||7:10am||C||Finland||Sweden|
* = Olympic Athletes from Russia