OLUND LOOKING TO MAKE THE JUMP FROM SWEDEN TO NORTH AMERICA


It may only be June, but Linus Ölund could be sending a message for what’s to come next season.

Ölund was one of the stand-outs during the first ice session at the Pittsburgh Penguins 2018 Development Camp at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Pennsylvania. Ölund tormented the Group A goalies by picking the top corner time and time again in every single drill the Penguins prospects partook in on Wednesday. His release was hard and heavy in addition to its accuracy, and he flashed some skill in puckhandling drills, as well.

The Swedish forward certainly passed the eye test in practice, but things might not come as easy once he has to make a big adjustment in-season. Ölund has spent his whole life playing on the expanded ice surface in European rinks. Expected to start the 2018-19 campaign with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, this season will be his first stab at trying to make his game translate to the smaller North American ice surface.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too hard,” Ölund said with some bravado in his tone. “Of course it’s going to take a few games to get to know the ice, but I’m going to use my head a lot when I play.”

Perhaps Ölund’s confidence carried over from his homeland’s surprising showing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Before Ölund took the ice in Cranberry, he and his fellow countrymen at development camp watched Sweden dispatch of Mexico, 3-0, and win their group to advance to the knockout stage for the first time since 2006.

Understandably, the 21-year-old was a little excited by the result.

“We were jumping up and down,” he said. “I wouldn’t think they would go out and get this kind of results, but they kicked out Italy in (qualification) playoffs. Yeah, I’m really happy.”

Sweden’s performance has been fun viewing for fans of all countries, but if Ölund can adjust to North American hockey and play as impressively as he did at the first day of development camp, he should be a joy to watch this season, too.

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

PENGUINS ANNOUNCE GUARANTEED HOME DATES

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ 20th season home opener will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6.  That contest is among the first six guaranteed home dates the team announced on Tuesday.

The Penguins’ guaranteed home dates for the 2018-19 season, all on Saturday nights, are as follows:

 

Saturday, October 6

Saturday, December 8

Saturday, December 15

Saturday, January 19

Saturday, February 16

Saturday, March 16

 

The full 2018-18 American Hockey League schedule will be released later this summer.

Season ticket packages for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 20th season, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

THE NEW PENGUINS – 2018 NHL DRAFT RECAP


The 2018 NHL Entry Draft took place this weekend in Dallas, Texas. The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the draft without a first round pick, but based on the talent in this year’s prospect pool, team scouts and pundits agreed there would be plenty of promising young players available for the Penguins.

Below are Pittsburgh’s 2018 selections listed in sequential order. Every player has a quick profile and scouting report included in this draft recap so that you can get to know a little more about the newest members of the organization before they likely end up taking the ice for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the future!

 

53rd – CALEN ADDISON: Defenseman, Lethbridge Hurricanes…

With Pittsburgh’s first selection in this year’s draft, they get an elite skater that fell right into its lap in Calen Addison. He has the ability to change directions on a dime, and he covers so much ground in any direction in an instant. Owns some offensive upside too thanks to his shooting ability. Addison has a quick wrister from the blue line that always gets past the first level. Always. This young man is an ace on the power play, as well. He’s a little undersized, but he competes enough to make up several inches in wall battles. However, doesn’t expect him to throw his weight around. Like a lot of young defensemen, his awareness on the defensive side of the game wanes, but he has time to remedy that before he’ll be called upon in Pittsburgh. They likely fell in love with him while keeping tabs on Jordy Bellerive, a Hurricanes teammate that the Penguins added to their prospect pool last year.

 

58th – FILIP HÅLLANDER: Right Wing, Timrå IK…

Pittsburgh traded up to take this player, and you could hear a tinge of excitement in director of scouting Patrik Allvin’s voice when he announced the selection of his fellow Swede. This is an energetic forward who can play wing or center. Filip Hållander relishes the forecheck and crashes the net. Acts as a fearless net-front presence. The Penguins have grown rather fond of Swedish players that play that style over the past few years, haven’t they? (Think Hörnqvist, Hagelin.) He’s a shifty skater skating and owns the puck abilities to possibly become more than a grind-it-out type player. His stride could use some refinement, it can look clunky at times, but he gets long extension from his powerful legs to generate deceptive speed. He shines in the east-west game, too, because of his skills and great edgework. Hållander shouldn’t be relied on to be a particularly creative playmaker, but he won’t make brainless mistakes either. No players were exchanged in the trade with Colorado to move up and take Hållander, by the way. It was only a pick swap.

 

129th – JUSTIN ALMEIDA: Centerman, Moose Jaw Warriors…

Quite some time passed between Pittsburgh’s second and third selections here, but the Penguins hope it was worth the wait as they grab the speedy and skilled Justin Almeida. Pittsburgh continues its trend of drafting over-age players, as Almeida was passed over in last year’s draft. A big reason why he wasn’t selected was his size. He’s thin as a rail and measures five-foot-nine, but his offensive output this season was too tantalizing to pass up. A great way for smaller players to make up for their diminutive size is by being a good skater, and Almeida can skate like the wind. He’s capable of making plays while operating at top speed, and his head can keep up with his feet. The 1999-born centerman possesses good puckhandling ability, but will grab your attention with a devastating shot. That pro-level release is a big reason why he jumped from 11 goals last season to 43 this year.

 

177th – LIAM GORMAN: Centerman, St. Sebastian’s School…

This is a strong young man that plays a gritty game. Every time you watch Liam Gorman, you’re going to see him driving to the front of the net. He scores a lot of his goals in that area around the crease, too. He has explosiveness to his stride, but needs to work on his overall speed. When he’s on top of his game, he excels at digging in the corners, gaining body leverage on opponents and winning possession for his team in the trenches. Gorman will go the collegiate route and is committed to attend Boston University, which surely will endear him to former Terriers Mike Sullivan and Clark Donatelli.

KOSTOPOULOS, CHIODO EXPRESS EXCITEMENT FOR NEW ROLES, WBS MEMORIES

 

Tom Kostopoulos and Andy Chiodo both spent the start of their careers basking in the adoration of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans. Both players quickly earned the favor of the team’s supporters and became fan favorites, but it was the 2004 Calder Cup Playoffs that the two cemented their legacies with the team.

As Kostopoulos and Chiodo were winning over Penguins fans with their play on the ice, that was around the same time that the fans carved out a special place in the players’ hearts, too. Chiodo says he can still hear the earth-shaking cheers of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton faithful ringing in his head.

“Those are the kind of memories that you just can’t forget,” Chiodo said. “It’s hard to describe. The fans were so engaged. They were so loud, and the energy that we got to experience from the crowd pushed us through those playoffs.”

Their careers eventually veered in different directions following that run to the 2004 Calder Cup Final, but Kostopoulos and Chiodo are back together again on the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey operations staff. On Wednesday, the long-time Penguins captain, Kostopoulos, was hired by Pittsburgh as Player Development Coach, and Chiodo was named Goaltending Development Coach.

“I think this development role will be good for me,” Kostopoulos said. “I’m learning a lot about it already, plus I’m really excited that [Chiodo] is coming in at the same time as me. Being able to work with him after playing with him and being good friends with him for a long time, I think it will be good for us.”

In a way, Kostopoulos was an extension of the Penguins’ development staff for years. Wearing the “C” in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while playing on an American Hockey League contract, Kostopoulos and Pittsburgh had a mutual understanding that even though the veteran still wanted to score as many goals and win as many games as he could while his playing career was still active, he was to mentor the younger players and help prepare them for the next step in their careers. By all accounts, Kostopoulos thrived in that role as a leader (and his offensive production rarely waned during that time, too.) Current Pittsburgh stand-outs such as Jake Guentzel, Matt Murray, Conor Sheary in addition to likely future studs like Dominik Simon and Teddy Blueger all have been vocal advocates of Kostopoulos.

Given his success with helping talented players reach the National Hockey League as a locker room leader, it’s easy to understand why everyone in Pittsburgh felt that Kostopoulos would be a perfect fit as a development coach. The man himself agrees with that assessment, too.

“My role kind of evolved to where I was trying to do everything I could to help those younger players while at the same time competing,” Kostopoulos said. “Pittsburgh has drafted really good players, but to say something like I had even a small role in helping them get to the NHL means a lot. Now, I pick up off that, I get to be on the other side of it.”

Chiodo’s playing career didn’t last quite as long as Kostopoulos’ epic 19 seasons, but he had already carved himself out a niche as a broadcaster in Toronto before stepping into a coach’s role last year. After one season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s, Chiodo departed to rejoin the organization that gave him his start in pro hockey. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fan darling plans on using his experience as goaltending coach with the 67’s in his new role with the black and gold.

“Every time I was in Ottawa, I felt like I learned something,” Chiodo said. “I had a great staff in Ottawa. Whether it was during individual meetings, the way they handled their video, the way they prepared for games, the way we all responded after games, I was absorbing it all. I think it was an ongoing process that I really enjoyed and I am grateful for.”

Kostopoulos and Chiodo’s jobs will take them across the continent, following draft picks and other prospects in the professional, collegiate and junior hockey ranks. Part of the appeal of the position is that you’re not quite as fully inundated in as season as one would be as a player. This made it attractive to Kostopoulos, who has made it perfectly clear that he wants to spend time with his family in retirement.

Furthermore, Kostopoulos, Chiodo, and Pittsburgh’s other development coach, Jarrod Skalde, are all based out the greater Toronto area. They won’t have to go far to congregate and discuss Penguins prospects and their progress, and Kostopoulos can still be close to home for his kid’s soccer game or a family movie night.

“Once my kids are finished with school in Dallas, (Pennsylvania,) we’ll be settling back in Ontario,” Kostopoulos said. “I think it’s a hub to travel and see Penguins prospects, but also get my kids back around their grandparents. It’s an exciting position for my whole family, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Of course, the job also requires frequent visits to Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Wheeling. Kostopoulos and Chiodo will mostly be confined to the press box and coaches’ offices, but if you happen to cross paths with one of them in the halls of Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, feel free to say hello. Even though they’re hockey ops now, they still feel the connection made as players with Penguins fans.

“I have such fond memories of the fans, the organization and that time period in my career,” Chiodo said. “The time that I had in Wilkes-Barre is something that I really remember in a fond way, and I’m excited to go back.”

TOM KOSTOPOULOS AND ANDY CHIODO HIRED BY PITTSBURGH


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today that former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton players Tom Kostopoulos and Andy Chiodo have been hired to player development roles within the organization. Kostopoulos was named player development coach, and Chiodo was named goaltending development coach.

Both Kostopoulos and Chiodo will work closely with Penguins’ director of player development Scott Young and player development coach Jarrod Skalde.

Kostopoulos, 39, and Chiodo, 35, rank among the most popular players in the history of the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins, and both made their NHL debuts with Pittsburgh in the early 2000’s.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Kostopoulos recently wrapped up a 19-year professional career that included a combined 1,468 NHL and AHL regular season and playoff games. He is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s all-time leader in games played (658), goals (187), assists (282) and points (469), and he is one of only four players in hockey history to have logged 600 games at both the NHL and AHL levels. Kostopoulos served as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s captain for the final five seasons of his career.

Although he was playing in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Kostopoulos played an instrumental role in Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017. As Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s captain, Kostopoulos helped assimilate several of the young players who played starring roles for Pittsburgh to the professional ranks, a group that included Matt Murray, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Brian Dumoulin, Conor Sheary and Tom Kühnhackl.

Kostopoulos, the Penguins’ seventh-round selection (204th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, broke into the NHL with Pittsburgh during the 2001-02 campaign. He skated for Pittsburgh through the 2003-04 season, before playing with Los Angeles, Montréal, Carolina, Calgary and New Jersey. He totaled 157 points (61G-96A) in 630 NHL regular season games and five points (3G-2A) in 16 postseason contests.

Chiodo hails from Toronto, Ontario and the goaltender enjoyed tremendous success with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the outset of his professional career in 2003-04, helping the Penguins reach the 2004 Calder Cup Final. Chiodo led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 18 wins in the regular season that year, then tacked on three shutouts during the team’s playoff run.

Chiodo, who was selected by the Penguins in the seventh round (199th overall) in the 2003 NHL Draft, saw his only NHL action with Pittsburgh that season. He sparked a late season revival after joining the club in February. His first NHL win came on February 25, 2004, a 4-3 overtime defeat of the Phoenix Coyotes. Not only was that Chiodo’s first win, but that victory ended the Penguins’ franchise-record-tying 18-game winless stretch. Chiodo posted a 3-4-1 record in eight games with Pittsburgh, as the Penguins went on a 12-5-3 run to close the season after winning just 11 of their first 62 games.

Following his three-year run in the Pittsburgh organization, which included time with the Wheeling Nailers as well, Chiodo continued to play professionally in North America and Europe through the 2016-17 campaign. His 14 seasons included stops in Russia, Finland and Austria. In 2007-08, his Finnish team, Kärpät, won the SM-liiga championship.

Chiodo spent the 2017-18 season as the goaltending coach for the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League.

Season ticket packages for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 20th season, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

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

PENGUINS ANNOUNCE FRONT OFFICE CHANGES

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have named Nick Hart play-by-play broadcaster/media relations director and Jason Spess manager of team services, it was announced today by CEO Jeff Barrett.

In addition to Hart and Spess’ new duties, broadcaster Mike O’Brien is leaving the organization to pursue other opportunities in Boston, Massachusetts.

Hart joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton prior to the 2015-16 season, serving as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s media relations manager while providing color commentary for the team’s broadcasts. Hart, 25, is a 2015 graduate of Ohio University with a degree in journalism.

Spess has served as assistant general manager of the Toyota SportsPlex for the past two years and served as an assistant coach with the Penguins’ ECHL affiliate the Wheeling Nailers, last season.

O’Brien joined the Penguins prior to the 2011 season, serving initially as the team’s media relations manager and color commentator, before taking over play-by-play duties prior to the 2013-14 season.  He later added team services to his job description, handling all travel arrangements and player movement for the club.

“Mike did a tremendous job during his seven year tenure in Wilkes-Barre, not only behind the microphone, but behind the scenes handling the team services functions for the club,” said CEO Jeff Barrett.  “We are also happy to hand these new duties to Nick and Jason, who have worked tirelessly for the team over the past several years.”

The Penguins will begin their 20th season in the American Hockey League this October. Season ticket packages for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 20th season, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS REVEAL OPPONENT SLATE FOR 2018-19 SEASON

 

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced their opponents for the upcoming 2018-19 season, the club’s 20th season of hockey. Among the 16 teams that the Penguins will face next year is a new foe, the Cleveland Monsters.

Cleveland was moved to the Eastern Conference’s North Division as a result of AHL realignment announced earlier in the week on Monday, May 7. The Penguins will take on the Monsters four times this season; twice at home and twice on the road. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will also return to home-and-home sets with three Western Conference opponents that they saw in 2017-18, the Grand Rapids Griffins, Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s full slate of opponents is as follows:

Opponent Home Road   Opponent Home Road
Binghamton 2 2   Milwaukee 1 1
Bridgeport 4 4   Providence 3 3
Charlotte 2 2   Rochester 1 1
Cleveland 2 2   Rockford 1 1
Grand Rapids 1 1   Springfield 3 3
Hartford 3 3   Syracuse 1 1
Hershey 6 6   Toronto 1 1
Lehigh Valley 6 6   Utica 1 1

 

The Penguins have not faced off against the Monsters since the 2008-09 season, when they were then known as the Lake Erie Monsters. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 3-1-0-0 against the Monsters all-time.

Guaranteed home dates and the full 2018-19 schedule will be announced at a later date.

Season ticket packages for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 20th season, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS FALL SHORT TO CHECKERS IN ELIMINATION GAME

 

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins saw their 2018 Calder Cup Playoff run come to an end with a 7-3 loss in Game Three to the Charlotte Checkers at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Thursday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored the game’s first two goals, including the first of Anthony Angello’s professional career, but their opening push was not enough as Charlotte came back with five consecutive tallies to earn enough separation to win the series, 3-0.

The Penguins got things going early as Angello collected a rebound five minutes into the opening frame. Niclas Almari, making his Calder Cup Playoffs debut, earned the secondary assist on Angello’s first pro goal.

Angello’s line combined to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 2-0 lead at 7:29 of the first period. Teddy Blueger delivered a pass to Zach Trotman, whose booming slap shot was tipped in by Adam Johnson.

The Penguins were firmly in control of the contest until the Checkers turned the tide late in the opening period. First, Lucas Wallmark found the back of the net behind a screened Tristan Jarry at 16:41 of the first period, and Greg McKegg converted on a breakaway 21 seconds later. Suddenly, the game was tied, 2-2.

The second period produced scoring chance after scoring chance for both sides, but no goals until the Checkers got a favorable bounce late. Aleksi Saarela threw the puck into the slot crease, where it deflected off a Penguin’s stick, then his skate and into the net. The pinballing puck granted Charlotte a 3-2 lead with 2:14 left before the second intermission.

Charlotte poured on the offense in the final frame, scoring two goals in as many minutes as Clark Bishop and Andrew Miller both capitalized to extend the Checkers’ lead to 5-2.

Angello scored his second goal of the game when he stole the puck from Alex Nedeljkovic and snuck it past the goaltender, giving the Penguins life at 13:31 of the third period.  However, the Checkers tacked on two empty netters to end any hopes of a comeback and bring the game to its final score, 7-3.

Jarry made 25 saves on the night while Nedeljkovic stopped 26 shots thrown his way.

The Penguins finished the regular season 45-22-6-3, good enough for second place in the Atlantic Division and the fifth-best record in the American Hockey League. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs for the 16th season in a row, the longest active streak in the AHL.

PENGUINS SIGN LINUS ÖLUND TO ATO

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have signed forward Linus Ölund to an amateur tryout agreement for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. Furthermore, the Penguins have released forward Sam Lafferty from his ATO.

The 20-year-old just finished his third season of pro hockey with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. This past season, he set career highs with 51 games played and 23 points (8G-15A).

Pittsburgh selected Ölund in the fifth round (155th overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft after he posted six goals and four assists for 10 points in 20 SHL Playoffs games with Brynäs. Ölund led all junior-aged players in goals during the 2017 SHL Playoffs as he helped Brynäs reach the Le Mat Trophy Final, the SHL’s championship series.

In this year’s SHL Playoffs, the native of Gävle, Sweden earned five points (2G-3A) in eight games, tied for second on the team.

Ölund joins the Penguins as they continue their opening round series of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs against the Charlotte Checkers. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hosts its first home game of the Atlantic Division Semifinal as Game Three of the series comes to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza tomorrow, Thursday, Apr. 26.

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.

 

PENGUINS SCORE EARLY, BUT LOSE GAME TWO AT CHARLOTTE, 4-1

 

BOXSCORE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins scored 22 seconds into Game Two of their Atlantic Division Semifinals series against the Charlotte Checkers, but the Checkers bounced back to win 4-1 at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Saturday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finds itself in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-five series as it takes the series home to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the final three potential games of the Atlantic Division Semifinals.

The Penguins started the game on the right foot, scoring on the first shift of the contest. Andrey Pedan’s point shot was stopped by Alex Nedeljkovic, but the goaltender couldn’t locate the rebound before Joseph Cramarossa slammed it into the back of the net. Cramarossa’s tally 22 seconds in was the second-fastest goal to start a game in Penguins playoff history.

Charlotte eventually countered at 13:47 of the first period with a strange bounce that fooled Tristan Jarry. Defenseman Haydn Fleury gathered a puck behind the goal line and tried to throw it into the slot, but it ricocheted off of the bend at the back of Jarry’s knee and in, tying the game at one goal apiece.

Warren Foegele had a chance to give the Checkers their first lead of the game when he took off on a shorthanded breakaway midway through the second period, but Jarry came up with a huge denial.

The Checkers did eventually take the lead when a seeing-eye shot from Josiah Didier navigated through a line of players and into the Penguins’ net with only 5:42 left in the third period.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has handed a power play with 3:28 remaining in regulation, but couldn’t generate any shots on Nedeljkovic. Right as the man advantage expired, the Penguins pulled Jarry for an extra attacker, but the Checkers scored on the empty net shortly thereafter. Empty net goals by Clark Bishop and Fleury separated by 14 seconds gave Charlotte a 4-1 lead and a 2-0 advantage in the series.

Jarry finished the night with 24 saves, while Nedeljkovic posted 27 stops for the win.

The series returns to the Penguins’ home ice for Game 3 on Thursday, Apr. 26. Ticket packages and individual game tickets for the 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.