LONGEST GAMES IN WBS PENGUINS HISTORY

It’s finals week at many colleges throughout the area, and kids are pulling all-nighters to get ready for their finals.

Well, there was an all-nighter in the American Hockey League last night as well.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Charlotte Checkers battled in the longest game in AHL history last night/this morning, with Alex Krushelnyski scoring at 6:48 of the fifth overtime to give the visiting Phantoms a 2-1 victory. That goal came at 1:09am.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have played seven games that have gone to multiple overtimes in the playoff history. Here’s a quick look back at those contests, from longest to shortest.

APRIL 25, 2005 – Colby Armstrong scores at 12:26 of the third overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Binghamton Senators in Game Three of the East Division Semifinals. The Penguins, who had dropped the first two games to the Pens, went on to win the next three games and advance to the East Division Final.

MAY 6, 2015 – Zach O’Brien’s goals at 4:13 of the third overtime gave the Manchester Monarchs a 4-3 win in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Monarchs advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in five games, and went on to capture the Calder Cup that season.

MAY 7, 2001 – Alexendre Mathieu’s goal at 15:43 of the second overtime gave the Penguins a 2-1 win in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the Hershey Bears. The Penguins swept the Bears in four games as they advanced to the Calder Cup Final for the first time in team history.

APRIL 23, 2016 – Jake Guentzel’s goal at 13:52 of the second overtime gave the Penguins a 5-4 win over the Providence Bruins, and a sweep of their best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinal, with all three victories coming in overtimes.

MAY 8, 2012 – Simon Despres scored at 12:08 of the second overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the St. John’s Ice Caps in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinal. The victory staved off elimination for the Penguins, who went on ti win Game Six in St. John’s three days later. However, the Ice Caps posted a 3-2 victory in game Seven to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

MAY 14, 2014 – It was Simon Despres once again playing the hero, scoring at 6:32 of the second overtime to give the Penguins a 5-4 win over the Providence Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won the series in seven games, and advanced to face St. John’s in the Eastern Conference Final.

MAY 4, 2007 – Alexander Giroux’s goal at 5:57 of the second overtime gave the Hershey Bears a 4-3 win in Game Two of the East Division Final. Hershey went on to win that series in five games.

2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

QUIET LEADER WILSON LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT SEASON


It was easy to see that Garrett Wilson wasn’t in a great mood at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins exit interviews. One day after being bounced from the Calder Cup playoffs, he stood in front of the local media with his head slightly tilted downward. With the sting of being bounced from the postseason still tingling, Wilson opened his mouth.

He spoke softly, but his words packed a punch.

“We couldn’t get the job done,” he said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow… I’m kind of [ticked] off we couldn’t do more for T.K.”

There’s nothing that can be done to change what happened this April, but Wilson has made it very clear that this year’s loss will only motivate him moving forward. The U.S.S. Wilson’s course for the summer is full speed ahead for the 2018-19 season, where he’s taking no prisoners.

“That’s two years in a row that we’ve been bounced in the first round since I’ve been here,” Wilson said. “That’s definitely going to be my feel for the offseason. It’s sticking with me. I’m going to be ready to go next year, for sure.”

The 2017-18 campaign was a difficult one for the 27-year old winger away from the rink, as he lost his mother to a long battle with cancer in late November. And despite setting career highs in assists (25) and points (47), Wilson admits his mother’s passing made last season a difficult one for him to get through.

The good news is that he believes this season has steeled him for any potential bumps in the road he may come across in the future.

“I went through some adversity and think I handled it well,” Wilson said. “When I face some obstacles again in my career, I can look back on this year and use what I learned and go from there.”

Wilson also credits his teammates for propping him up during one of the most difficult times in his life. One man in the locker room that has been referred to as the ultimate teammate, won’t be back for next season, though. That’s 19-year veteran Tom Kostopoulos, who retired at the end of the season.

Wilson was one of the Penguins’ most outspoken supporters of what the captain meant to the team. That’s also another reason why this year’s playoff exit hit Wilson so hard.

With Kostopoulos ready to write the next chapter of his life, Wilson seems like a prime candidate to assume a leadership position in the room.

But Wilson believes Kostopoulos’ contributions as a captain were so great, that one person trying to bear that burden of captaincy might be difficult. Regardless of who’s wearing what letter on their chests, it will require a group effort to fill the void left by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s longtime leader.

“Losing T.K. is big shoes to fill,” Wilson said. “I don’t think one person can come and fill that leadership role all on their own. It’s going to take a good group to step up. I’m sure [WBS General Manager] Billy [Guerin] and them will get the right pieces in free agency, and we’ll all lead this together as a team.”

If the plan is to lead as a team, fans can still expect Wilson to be at the forefront of the squad, playing with a determination to get that bad taste out of his mouth.

2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

AHL ANNOUNCES DIVISION ALIGNMENT FOR 2018-19


American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors, which convened for its Spring Meeting today in Chicago, Ill., has approved the following division alignment for the 2018-19 AHL season (National Hockey League affiliations in parentheses):

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders)
Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes)
Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers)
Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers)
Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)
Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins)

North Division
Belleville Senators (Ottawa Senators)
Binghamton Devils (New Jersey Devils)
Cleveland Monsters (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens)
Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres)
Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks)

Western Conference
Central Division
Chicago Wolves (Vegas Golden Knights)
Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings)
Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild)
Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets)
Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators)
Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks)
San Antonio Rampage (St. Louis Blues)
Texas Stars (Dallas Stars)

Pacific Division
Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers)
Colorado Eagles (Colorado Avalanche)
Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings)
San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks)
San Jose Barracuda (San Jose Sharks)
Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames)
Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona Coyotes)

Changes from the 2017-18 season include:

  • Colorado joining the AHL as its 31st active team and playing in the Pacific Division
  • San Antonio and Texas moving from the Pacific Division to the Central Division
  • Cleveland moving from the Central Division to the North Division

The playing schedule for the 2018-19 regular season, which begins Oct. 5, will be announced this summer.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 17th year in a row, more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games across North America in 2017-18.

2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

DESPITE INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS, SPRONG STILL HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE


Name an American Hockey League player who was more electrifying than Daniel Sprong during the 2017-18 regular season.

Go on.

We’ll wait.

Can’t do it, can you?

Sprong was sensational during his first full pro season, scoring at a point-per-game clip (65 in 65), leading all AHL rookies with 32 goals, and finishing one-point behind Manitoba’s Mason Appleton for the freshman point lead.

His 32 goals were also the most by any rookie to ever don a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sweater, and tied him for second-most in team history. He also became the first Penguin in eight years to eclipse the 60-point mark.

Sprong expressed his disappointment with his team’s playoff exit when the Penguins held their exit meetings and locker clear-out day, but when prodded about his individual success, he lightened up a bit.

“Personally, I thought I had a really good year,” Sprong said. “I’m happy with my season. There were a lot of guys in this room that helped me this season, too. We created a lot of good memories together. I’m proud of the way my season went.”

The Netherlands native’s scoring prowess earned him several nicknames in his first full season as a pro; the Dutch Dangler, the Flying Dutchman, the King of Sprong Style.

There was never a question about Sprong’s offensive ability as he entered the season. The youngster was, however, tasked with improving his defensive play by the Penguins staff. It was a challenge he gladly accepted.

“Coming into the year, I was still cheating,” Sprong said. “I was looking for breaks. As the year went on, I started to play inside the game a little bit more. That in turn created more offense for me. That contributed to a lot of my success.”

This season, Penguins assistant coach Tim Army spent a lot of time in front of a computer screen reviewing game film with Sprong sitting right beside him. Engaged in the learning process, the rookie slowly but surely started to comprehend the benefits of not “cheating”, as he put it, and remaining an active participant in the play, even when he wasn’t carrying the puck on his stick.

This evolving play was a big reason why he was able to etch his way into Wilkes-Barre/Scranton record books, thanks in large part to his outburst of 11 goals and 19 points in his final 15 games of the regular season.

Despite the rousing success in year one, Sprong isn’t taking anything for granted this summer; he’s approaching the next campaign like someone who still has something to prove.

“There’s still a lot of months, a lot of steps between now and [the start of the season],” Sprong said. “I’m going to work hard in the summer, come back in shape and get ready to earn my spot.”

2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

PITTSBURGH RECALLS 13 FROM WBS


The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled 13 players from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Today’s recalls include seven forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders.

Joining the Penguins are forwards Josh Jooris, Daniel Sprong, Thomas Di Pauli, Adam Johnson, Teddy Blueger, Garrett Wilson and Jean-Sebastien Dea; defensemen Lukas Bengtsson, Chris Summers, Jarred Tinordi and Andrey Pedan; and goaltenders Tristan Jarry and Michael Leighton.

2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

COMEBACK KIDS? THE PENS HAVE A HISTORY

Dropping the first two contests of a best-of-five playoff series isn’t the ideal situation for any team.

But it’s not the end of the world, either.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are no strangers to playoff comebacks, including those times when their backs have been firmly against the wall.

But two series stand out above the other 36 they’ve participated in entering the 2018 postseason.


2004

Back in 2004, the Penguins dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven East Division Semifinal against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with both losses coming in overtime, before winning a Game Three in the extra frame.

But a 4-2 loss in Game Four had the Penguins fighting for their playoff lives.

Jeff Hamilton gave the Sound Tigers a 1-0 lead 6:17 into the second period, before Tom Kostopoulos beat Dieter Kochan to even the score before the end of the middle frame to complete the regulation scoring.

The teams traded shots in the extra frame before TK set up Tomas Surovy for the winning goal to extend the series.

Game Six saw the series shift back to Wilkes-Barre, and the home cooking paid off for the Pens, who posted a 5-0 win. Matt Hussey opened the scoring midway through the first period and added another goal in the third, while Konstantin Koltsov, Shane Endicott and Kris Beech also tallied. Kostopoulos had two helpers in the win, and Andy Chiodo made 23 saves for the shutout.

Game Seven goes down as one of the most memorable road games in team history, as busloads of the Wilkes-Barre faithful made the trip to Bridgeport, where they saw Koltsov tally the decisive goal in overtime, giving the Penguins a 3-2 win to cap a remarkable series comeback.


2013

Five years ago, the Penguins and the Providence Bruins faced off for the first time in the AHL playoffs, with the clubs meeting in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And the early results were not good for the Pens.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton dropped an 8-5 decision in the opening game, which included a four-point effort (1+3) from noted Penguin killer, Chris Bourque.

Game Two saw the Penguins jump out to a 1-0 lead 4:40 into the contest, thanks to Warren Peters’ shorthanded goal. But the Bruins rattled off four goals in fewer than 14 minutes to close out the opening frame, and the Bruins held on for a 4-2 victory.

Game Three, held back in Wilkes-Barre, was a much tighter contest, with Jared Knight and Trevor Smith trading goals in the second period. Brad Thiessen stopped 20 of 21 shots in regulation, but couldn’t stop Carter Camper’s attempt just 31 seconds into OT, giving the Bruins a 2-1 win and a seemingly unsurmountable 3-0 lead in the series.

But things were about to get interesting.

Camper gave the visiting Bruins a 1-0 lead just seven and a half minutes into the game, but that was the only goal Thiessen would surrender, as Peters, Riley Holzopfel and Chad Kolarik scored for the Penguins to give them their first win of the round.

Game Five, also in NEPA, saw Brian Dumoulin’s power play goal give the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 10:55 of the first. Tempers began to flare a short time later, as Bobby Robbins and Adam Payerl dropped the gloves at 14:29. But it was a scuffle behind the play between Christian Hanson and Joey Mormina that gave the Penguins another chance on the man advantage at 16:20. It took Smith just 27 seconds to double the Wilkes-Barre lead with his second goal of the series.

Payerl picked up a goal of his own in the second period, and the game degenerated into a slugfest in the third, with 72 penalty minutes being assessed in the final 5:23. Paul Thompson also added a goal during that time, making the final score 4-0.

Back in Providence, the Bruins poured on the offensive onslaught in Game Six. But Thiessen proved to be too much for the home squad, stopping 46 of 47 shots to lead the Penguins to a 2-1 overtime victory. Dumoulin scored for the second straight game on the power play, while Smith netted the winner 3:26 into OT.

That performance seemed to suck the wind out of the Bruins’ sails, as the Penguins scored four times in the second period of Game Seven, en route to a 5-0 win and an astounding comeback to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.


So sitting in a 2-0 hole isn’t the best place to be for the Penguins. But it’s also not an impossible hole to climb out of.

Game Three of the series with the Charlotte Checkers is this Thursday night at 7:05pm.  Games Four and Five, if necessary, will be held on Saturday at 7:05pm and Sunday at 3:05pm.

Individual game tickets and ticket packages for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs are now on sale. With the purchase of a postseason ticket package, fans will receive a $6 food/merchandise voucher for every game played in the playoffs.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans can secure their seats for every game on the Cup run by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367, or fill in the form below to be contacted by a ticket representative.

Penguins Playoff T-Shirts are available now at the Penguins Team Store on Coal Street, via the Penguins online store, and at the Igloo Store inside the Mohegan Sun Arena during Thursday night’s game.

DISCIPLINE KEY TO GAME TWO SUCCESS FOR PENGUINS


The Charlotte Checkers finished the regular season with the third-ranked power play in the American Hockey League. So giving them seven chances on the man advantage on Friday night was bound to come back and haunt the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Charlotte’s Valentin Zykov, who had 17 power play goals during the regular season, tallied on his team’s sixth opportunity last night to force overtime, where the Checkers won the game, 3-2.

Head coach Clark Donatelli knows the Pens can’t afford a repeat of the penalty box parade tonight.

“We’ve got to be disciplined and stay out of the box,” he said. “They have a really good power play. That gave them momentum and was the difference in the game. Five-on-five, I like our chances.”

The winning tally came 3:18 into overtime, as the Checkers swarmed the crease in front of goaltender Tristan Jarry. The Penguins protested at the time, saying that Zykov interfered with the netminder on Lucas Wallmark’s winner.

Donatelli isn’t dwelling on the end of the game, though.

“It doesn’t matter. It is what it is,” he said. “We were pinned in the zone for a minute there, and we should have had the puck out.”

No one is panicking after the first game according to the Penguins head coach.

“It’s a series, this is not one game,” said Donatelli. “We didn’t think we were going to come in here and sweep anyways. It’s another game [Saturday] and then we’ll take it one game at a time.

“It’s been close all year, all the games we’ve played against them. And we assume it’s going to be close again [Saturday].”

The Penguins and Checkers face off in Game Two at 6:00pm on Saturday night, before the series heads to Wilkes-Barre for Game Three on Thursday evening at 7:05pm.

Calder Cup Playoff ticket packages (which include a $6 voucher good for food or merchandise for each game), as well as individual game playoff tickets, are on sale now through the Penguins front office.  Get yours by calling 570-208-7367, or fill in the form before to request more info from a Penguins representative.

CATCHING UP WITH CHRIS SUMMERS


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Chris Summers is one of the most experienced players on the team, with 450 American Hockey League games on his resume, as well as 70 games in the National Hockey League.

But despite playing in more than 500 regular season pro games combined, he has just three postseason contests to his credit, those coming with the Portland Pirates back in 2013.

We caught up with Summer following practice on Friday morning to get his quick thoughts heading into Game One tonight against the Charlotte Checkers.

WBS:  How does it feel to be back in the postseason?

SUMMERS:  I’m excited.  I’m excited.  Ready to go.  We’ve got a really good group of guys here, a very talented group of guys.   We expect a lot from this group, and I think the fans should, the coaches should as well.  We’re excited to step on the ice and get this thing going.

WBS:  The Penguins had a sneaky good end to the season, winning seven of 10 games.  It seems like the team started to really come together at the end of March.  What did you see with the team late in the season?

SUMMERS:  I think we’ve tightened a few bolts.  There are some things we’ve been working on a little bit, and we’ve seen it unfold in games, especially the last few games at the end of the season.  And we’re a deep team, so I think that plays a big role in it too.  We’ve got guys that, if something should happen, those guys can step in.  And I think the biggest thing for us is we’re just excited to play.

WBS:  The Checkers won three of four against the Penguins this season, and have the highest scoring offense in the AHL this past regular season.  How do you contend with that?

SUMMERS:  I think the biggest thing for us is going to be implementing our style of hockey.  I think we’re a kind of rough and tumble team.  We can be at times.  But making sure that we establish our presence on the ice will be a big thing for us….It should be a good matchup.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins begin their opening-round best-of-five series against the Charlotte Checkers tonight at 7:00 PM at Bojangles’ Coliseum in North Carolina. Game Two is slated for tomorrow, April 21 at 6:00 PM. The series will shift back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for Game Three on April 26 at 7:00 PM.

Calder Cup Playoff ticket packages (which include a $6 voucher good for food or merchandise for each game), as well as individual game playoff tickets, are on sale now through the Penguins front office.  Get yours by calling 570-208-7367, or fill in the form before to request more info from a Penguins representative.

JOORIS REASSIGNED TO WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON


The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-assigned forward Josh Jooris to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Jooris, 28, appeared in six games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, recording one goal.  He was acquired by Pittsburgh from the Carolina Hurricanes for Greg McKegg on February 26.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins begin their opening-round best-of-five series against the Charlotte Checkers tonight at 7:00 PM at Bojangles’ Coliseum in North Carolina. Game Two is slated for tomorrow, April 21 at 6:00 PM. The series will shift back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for Game Three on April 26 at 7:00 PM.

Calder Cup Playoff ticket packages (which include a $6 voucher good for food or merchandise for each game), as well as individual game playoff tickets, are on sale now through the Penguins front office.  Get yours by calling 570-208-7367, or fill in the form before to request more info from a Penguins representative.

PENGUINS – CHECKERS COMPARISON


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Charlotte Checkers meet in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, and to get you ready, we’ve put together this quick side-by-side comparison on how the teams fared this season.

2017-18 REGULAR SEASON STATS

PENGUINS CHECKERS
RECORD 45-22-6-3, 99 PTS 46-26-1-3, 96 PTS
GOALS FOR/AGAINST 252/233 262/212
PENALTY MINUTES 1,161 902
POWER PLAY 41/298 – 13.8% 70/343 – 20.4%
PENALTY KILL 291/355 – 82.0% 255/314 – 81.2%

2017-18 REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

PENGUINS CHECKERS
GAMES Kevin Czuczman – 71 Andrew Poturalski & Philip Samuelsson – 76
GOALS Daniel Sprong – 32 Valentin Zykov – 33
ASSISTS Daniel Sprong – 33 Lucas Wallmark – 38
POINTS Daniel Sprong – 65 Lucas Wallmark – 55
+/- Zach Trotman – plus-24 Philip Sameulsson – plus-44
PIM Garrett Wilson – 139 Trevor Carrick – 85
PPG Daniel Sprong – 11 Valentin Zykov – 17
SHG Jean-Sebastien Dea – 4 Warren Foegele – 4

2017-18 REGULAR SEASON GOALTENDERS

PENGUINS CHECKERS
Name GP Record GAA SV% SO Name GP Record GAA SV% SO
Anthony Peters 24 12-7-3 2.71 0.907 1 Alex Nedeljkovic 49 31-12-3 2.55 0.903 5
Michael Leighton 6 5-0-0 2.66 0.913 0 Jeremy Smith 30 13-13-1 2.71 0.902 0
Tristan Jarry 16 9-5-2 3.05 0.901 0

This is the second playoff meeting between the Penguins and Checkers, who also faced off in the East Division Final back in 2011.  Charlotte won that series, 4-2.

2011 EAST DIVISION FINAL (CHARLOTTE WINS, 4-2)

Date Road Team Home Team Result
April 28, 2011 Charlotte – 3 WBS – 2 L
April 30, 2011 Charlotte – 0 WBS  – 3 W
May 2, 2011 WBS – 1 Charlotte – 2 (OT) L
May 4, 2011 WBS – 0  Charlotte 1 L
May 6, 2011 WBS – 1 Charlotte – 0 W
May 7, 2011 Charlotte – 4 WBS – 3 L