PENS PRACTICE REPORT: PEDAN PROGRESS


Andrey Pedan had appeared in 211 American Hockey League games prior to Saturday afternoon’s contest against the Laval Rocket.  And in that time, the Russian defenseman had a grand total of one multi-goal game in his minor league career, that coming on April 6, 2014 as a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

So you could excuse the 6’5” blue line for being just a little bit happy when he popped in three goals to lead the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins past the Rocket this past weekend.

“I was excited.  There  were not many hats out there, playing on the road,” laughed Pedan.  “[Garrett Wilson] did a really good job in front [of the goal], so it was easy.  I just had to hit the net.”

Pedan’s first goal was a shot from the slot that hit goaltender Michael McNiven, then fluttered over the goal line.  But tallies two and three were deftly placed shots from the point, both coming on the power play.

The sixth-year pro was happy to hit the back of the net, even if it wasn’t the first thing on his mind.

“I don’t really worry about points, just taking care of the D-zone,” he said.  “We have a great group of forwards who can score.”

Perhaps the only person happier than Pedan this past weekend was head coach Clark Donatelli, who has seen the early season acquisition (he was traded to the Penguins for defenseman Derrick Pouliot) bloom on the Penguins backline.

“We’ve been working with him here now since the trade and trying to get him up to speed on our systems and his details and his habits, how he plays,” Donatelli said.  “I think you can see a big difference from when we got him to now.

“Less is more with him.  It’s hard to do less when you’re competing like that.  But I think he’s buying in.  He did a lot less and got three goals, and got a lot accomplished on the defensive side of the puck as well.  So he’s come a long way since we got him, and we’re really happy with his success.


Pedan wasn’t the only Penguin celebrating a hat trick last weekend.  Ryan Haggerty started off the team’s trek through Canada with a three-goal game in a 6-2 victory against the Belleville Senators on Friday night.  What made it even more special is that his father, Roger, was on hand as part of the team’s fathers’ trip to witness it firsthand.

“It was something special to have all of the dads here,” said the younger Haggerty, who now has 16 goals in just 26 games this season.  “And it’s pretty cool to play that well as a team and to go out and win a game like that.  It’s more special to have all of the dads with us.”

Haggerty has already eclipsed his previous single-season high of 15 goals in a season, set in 2014-15 with the Hartford Wolf Pack.  It took him 73 games that year to reach the mark.

“Hagg’s has been playing great all year,” Donatelli said.  “He’s got an NHL shot and release.  He’s just played fantastic from the time he stepped on the ice his first game this year.  He’s been very consistent in his play, and I think that’s a big difference from last year.”


The Penguins have been known as one of the top defenseive teams in the AHL in recent years, with their goaltenders taking home the Harry ‘Hap’ Holmes Award, presented to the netminders on the team with the lowest goals against average, in five of the past seven seasons.

So it may be a bit of a surprise to learn that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton currently ranks second in the league in goals scored per game at 3.67 (132 goals in 36 games).

What’s even more impressive is that the team has done plenty of damage while two of its top scorers – Dominik Simon and Daniel Sprong – have been on recall with Pittsburgh.

Simon was originally summoned by Pittsburgh on December 8, but returned to the team on December 30.  He netted the overtime winner in that contest before returning to the NHL club.

Sprong got his promotion on that same day, after netting 18 goals in 29 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Despite not having the duo in the lineup since the end of the calendar year, the Penguins have posted five straight wins (seven overall dating back to December 29), and have outscored the opposition 23-9 in 2018.

“Spronger leaves, and it’s just another opportunity for someone else to come in and grab that ice time,” said Donatelli.  “We have a lot of guys here that are going to take advantage of that.  You’re seeing it with him and Simon being up there, where guys are getting more ice time.  They jump right in there and take advantage of that.”


Wednesday night’s game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms starts a stretch of games that will see the Penguins face off with Atlantic Division foes in 10 of 11 contests.  And although the Pens currently hold down the top slot in the standings, Donatelli knows the upcoming schedule will be a challenging one to navigate.

“My experience in this division, even when you’re winning you don’t break away [from the pack],” he said.  “If you’re not on your ‘A’ game, you’re going to get beat in this league, and especially in our division.  We’re just going to approach it one game at a time.  It’s a tough stretch for us, but our guys are ready.”


The Penguins’ next game is Wednesday, Jan. 17 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop between the Penguins and Phantoms 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-game12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

FAN FRIDAY INFO

Would you like more info on tickets for any of our upcoming FAN FRIDAY games? Simply fill in your contact info below, and a Penguins ticket representative will contact you within 48 hours.

PENGUINS PODCAST W/ ANTHONY PETERS


After a holiday hiatus, the Penguins Podcast is back this week with Anthony Peters swinging by. Obie and Nick have a great conversation with Anthony as they learn about the goaltender’s battle back from a car accident that left him bed-ridden for two months; the dynamic between two brothers who are both goalies and his favorite father-son moment.

FORMER PENS WELCH, KOLARIK NAMED TO USA OLYMPIC SQUAD

Noah Welch played parts of two seasons (2005-07) with the Penguins, and represented the team at the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic.

Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Noah Welch and forward Chad Kolarik were named to the 2018 United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team on Monday.  The tournament, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea from February 9-25, will be the first since the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway, not to feature National Hockey League players.

TEAM USA ROSTER

Welch, 35, was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round (54th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.  He spent parts of two seasons (2005-07) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 50 points (14+36) in 104 games.

A native of Brighton, MA, Welch was voted a starter for the PlanetUSA All-Star Team at the 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba while with the Penguins.  He has appeared in 209 AHL games with the Penguins, Rochester Americans and Chicago Wolves, recording 77 points (19+58).

Welch appeared in 27 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins between 2005-07, recording six points (2+4), before being traded to the Florida Panthers for Gary Roberts.  He appeared in 75 NHL games with the Penguins, Panthers, Tampa Bay Lighting and Atlanta Thrashers, recording nine points (4+5) and 58 penalty minutes.

For the past seven seasons, Welch has been playing in Sweden, and currently is a member of Vaxjo HC.

Chad Kolarik recorded 33 points in 35 games with the Penguins during the 2012-13 season.

Kolarik, 31, was acquired by the Penguins from the New York Rangers for Benn Ferriero on January 24, 2013.  He appeared in 35 regular season games with the Penguins that year, posting 33 points (15+18), and added 11 points (5+^) in 15 Calder Cup Playoff games for the team.

The Abington, PA native spent parts of five seasons in the AHL with the Penguins, San Antonio Rampage, Syracuse Crunch, Springfield Falcons, Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale, recording 209 points (98+111) in 277 games.  Kolarik also appeared in six NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers, recording one assist.

Kolarik has been playing overseas for the past five seasons, and currently leads the Mannheim Eagles (Germany) with 31 points (19+12) in 32 games this season.

Team USA’s Olympic schedule features preliminary-round play against Slovenia at 7:10 a.m. ET on Feb. 14 from the Kwandong Hockey Centre; Slovakia at 10:10 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre; and Olympic Athletes from Russia at Gangneung at 7:10 a.m. on Feb. 17.

FAN FRIDAY INFO

Would you like more info on tickets for any of our upcoming FAN FRIDAY games? Simply fill in your contact info below, and a Penguins ticket representative will contact you within 48 hours.

CHRISTIAN THOMAS TO PLAY FOR TEAM CANADA IN SPENGLER CUP


Christian Thomas will get another chance to showcase his skills in an effort to make the Canadian Olympic Team, after being selected to Team Canada’s entry in the Spengler Cup tournament today.

The 91st incarnation of the Spengler Cup will feature four European club teams – HC Davos (Switzerland), Dinamo Riga (Latvia), HPK Hameenlinna (Finland) and Mountfield HK (Czech Republic) – as well as international teams from Switzerland and Canada.  The tournament takes place between Dec. 26-31 in Davos.

“It’s exciting, and I’m excited to go there,” Thomas said.  “Unfortunately I have to miss some games here.  The team in Pittsburgh and here in Wilkes-Barre have been awesome in letting me play in the tournaments.”

Canada is using this year’s tournament as a final opportunity to take a look at potential players for their Olympic team.  While the Winter Olympics have featured National Hockey League players suiting up for their home countries since 1998, this year’s tournament will not feature skaters from the world’s top league, due to an impasse between the NHL and the International Olympic Committee.

However, players participating in European leagues are eligible to participate in the Olympics, as are North American collegiate skaters, and those signed to American Hockey League only contracts.  Thomas falls into that latter set.

The Penguins forward suited up for Team Canada earlier this year at the Karjala Cup tournament, which was held in Sweden, Switzerland and Finland.  Thomas potted one goal in three games during the competition.

The Spengler Cup will give him one more chance to show off his skill in an effort to earn a spot on Team Canada when it heads to South Korea in February.

“It’s really cool.  I’m excited to go out there and show them the way I can play, and work hard,” he said. “Hopefully that’s enough to earn me a spot.”


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Dec. 22 against the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop for the first meeting of the season between the Penguins and Devils is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. 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-game12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.


2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

LEIGHTON LOOKING TO STOP PUCKS FOR, NOT AGAINST, PENGUINS


Michael Leighton is one of the most accomplished goaltenders in American Hockey League history, and most notably holds the league’s record for career shutouts with 50.

Much to the chagrin of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans, six of those clean sheets have come against the Penguins.

But after being acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins via trade this week, Leighton is now looking forward to stopping pucks for club instead of against it.

“I always liked playing against this team and in the [Mohegan Sun Arena].  I always felt comfortable,” Leighton said after his first practice with the Penguins on Wednesday morning.  “Hopefully I can turn that around and help the team win.”

A well-traveled veteran, Leighton suited up for eight eight AHL teams, as well as four NHL clubs, between 2001 and the end of the 2016-17 season.  But his hockey odyssey this season has been nothing short of frustrating for the native of Petrolia, Ontario.

Leighton signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the summer, and was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch to start the 2017-18 season.

After appearing in nine games with the Crunch, Leighton was traded with forward Tye McGinn to the Arizona Coyotes on November 14.

But his travels didn’t stop in the desert southwest.

With the Coyotes’ minor league club, the Tucson Roadrunners, already with two goaltenders, Leighton was loaned out to the Chicago Wolves, who were short on pucks toppers due to a rash of injuries with their parent club, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Leighton filled a gap in Chicago, playing in five games with the Wolves between November 21 and December 10.  But, with Vegas’ goaltending situation returning to near normal, Max Legace was reassigned to Chicago, making Leighton the odd man out once again.

He was returned to Arizona, but never pulled on a game sweater for the Roadrunners.

“They were just looking to trade me the whole time,” Leighton said.  “I was doing a lot of sitting around, not practicing much, kind of just waiting for a trade to happen.”

That move finally came on Tuesday, when Pittsburgh sent Josh Archibald, second-year goaltender Sean Maguire and a sixth round draft pick to Arizona in exchange for Leighton and a future fourth-round pick.  That has opened the door for the 17th year pro to play a prominent role with the Penguins.

At 36-years old, Leighton would be the oldest player on most teams in the AHL.  But, with Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos clocking in at 38, Leighton is happy to deflect some of the ‘old man’ jokes from his teammates.

“I’m actually really excited.  I’ve been the oldest guy on my team for a little while now,” he laughed when the subject was brought up.  “I played with Tommy in Carolina a long time ago, so it’s good to see a friendly face.”

But Kostopoulos isn’t the only player Leighton is familiar with inside the Coal Street locker room.  He’s also played alongside Ryan Haggerty (Rockford IceHogs), Tom Sestito (Adirondack Phantoms), and even Penguins assistant coach J.D. Forrest (Albany River Rats) during his AHL career.

“It’s difficult coming in meeting 25 new guys,” he said. “So to have a couple of friendly faces you’ve played with or at least played against, they know you, it makes it a lot better.”


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Dec. 22 against the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop for the first meeting of the season between the Penguins and Devils is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. 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-game12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.


2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

NAILERS NEWS – December 19, 2017


The Wheeling Nailers posted a 2-1-0-0 mark last week, and currently sit in second place in the ECHL’s North Division with a 15-10-2-0 record.  Here’s a look at the latest team info in our NAILERS NEWS feature.


RECENT ACTION

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12 vs. INDY (3-2 WIN):  Troy Josephs netted the decisive goal at 6:29 of the third period, leading the Nailers to a one-goal victory against the Fuel.  Freddie Tiffels and Cam Brown staked Wheeling to a two goal lead, before Indy rallied late in the second frame for a pair of goals just 55 seconds apart.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15 at READING (4-0 Loss):  The Nailers suffered their first shutout of the season in the opener of a two-game set against the Royals.  The result wasn’t for lack of trying, however, as Wheeling peppered Reading goalie Mark Dekanich with 50 shots.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16 at READING (4-2 WIN):  Wheeling bounced back for a road win against the Royals.  After a quiet first 39 minutes, Kevin Schulze opened the scoring with 42 seconds remaining in the second period.  Wheeling extended the lead to 3-0 on third period tallies by Reid Gardiner and Troy Josephs, before Reading stuck twice.  Cody Wydo’s empty netted capped the win for the visitors.


THE WEEK AHEAD

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22 & SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23 vs. BRAMPTON:  The Nailers head into the holiday with a pair of games on home ice against their North Division foes.  The Beast sits in fifth place in the six team division with a 12-10-1-2 record, but have won four of their past five contests.  The clubs split their first two meetings on Oct. 22 and 27 in Brampton.


LEAGUE LEADERS

The NAILERS lead the entire ECHL with a  22.6% conversion rate on the power play (26 goals/115 attempts).

CODY WYDO is ninth in the ECHL with 30 points, tied for 13th with 17 assists, tied for eighth with 13 goals.

GARRETT MEURS is tied for 17th in the league with 25 points and tied for 14th with 12 goals.

REID GARDINER is tied for 17th in the ECHL with 25 points and tied for 14th with 12 goals.  Gardiner also ranks second among ECHL rookies in points and goals.

DEREK ARMY is tied for fourth with five power play goals.

CAM BROWN is tied for third in the ECHL with 20 assists.  He also ranks third among league rookies in points (24) and leads first year players in assists.

NICK SORKIN is tied for 13th in the league with 17 assists.

HUNTER FEJES is tied for eighth in the ECHL with 13 goals and tied for 11th with four power play goals


NAILERS NOTES

TROY JOSEPHS has three goals in six games since joining the Nailers earlier this month, including a pair of game-winning goals.  Josephs began the season sidelined after off season surgery.

The NAILERS’ first goal last Tuesday against Indy was the team’s 6,000th all-time.

WHEELING’S game on Friday night in Reading was the 1,800th game in team history.


2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

PENS AND PINS RETURNING JANUARY 7


Come on out and join the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for their ninth annual Pens and Pins Bowling Tournament, benefitting the Penguins GOALS Foundation.

Fans will get the chance to bowl with one of their favorite Penguins players while raising money for charity.

Registration is just $50 for individual or $200 for a team of five, and includes two rounds of bowling with your player (randomly selected), shoe rental, a free Pens and Pins T-shirt, plus pizza and soda for all bowlers.

For more information, or to register, call the Penguins at 570-208-7367.


2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

FESTIVUS CELEBRATION DECEMBER 23


We’re pulling the aluminum pole out of the crawlspace and setting it up for our first ever Festivus Celebration on Saturday night, December 23, when we face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 5:05pm (SPECIAL START TIME).

Penguins players will be airing their grievances with the Phantoms while donning these special Festivus inspired sweaters, which will be auctioned off during the game.

Be sure to stop and have your photo taken with the Festivus pole on the concourse (we find tinsel distracting), and enjoy the feats of strength the Pens will be performing on the ice.

The first 4,000 fans in attendance will also receive the third in our series of four Penguins Trading Card Strips, featuring five Pens players plus a voucher good for a free treat from Grotto Pizza.

Get your tickets for Saturday night’s game at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online through TicketMaster.com or by calling the Penguins at 570-208-7367.

2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

FUNDRAISER FOR CHRIS HALLOCK


Chris Hallock is a Scranton police officer, a husband, and a new father to an eight week old boy named Giovanni.

He’s also recently been diagnosed with AML FT3, an acute type of leukemia.

The son-in-law of Penguins team store manager John Zaino, Chris is currently being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and is expected to undergo treatment for at least a year, if not longer.

We’re looking to help with Chris’ medical expenses through a pair of special fundraisers from the team.

First, we have a special ticket plan set up for our game on Saturday, December 23 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.  By purchasing through this offer, we’ll donate $4 for every ticket purchased back to the Hallock family’s medical fund.

The Penguins will also be selling special Leukemia awareness t-shirts at the game that night, as well as in the team store located inside the Toyota SportsPlex on Coal Street.  Proceeds from the shirt sale will be donated to the medical fund as well.

Ticket packages are available in the Blue, Gold or Red Zones, and start at just $17.50, which includes the $4 donation back to Chris and his family.

To order tickets for the game, call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367, or simply fill in the form below.