NEW GM GUERIN SAYS IT’S “ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL” FOR WBS TO SUCCEED

Photo Credit : Lindsay A. Mogle/AHL

Bill Guerin isn’t holding anything back.

Pittsburgh’s assistant general manager had only officially held the title of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins GM for a little over four hours before he had his first press conference with the local media, but he’s not showing any signs of somebody who wanted to dip his toe in the water before getting in. Guerin’s comments were a full-fledged cannonball.

A lot of what he had to say revolved around his desire to ensure that the Penguins stay among the top of the American Hockey League standings.

“It’s absolutely critical that we have success in Wilkes-Barre,” the U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer said. “The culture in Wilkes-Barre, the winning attitude, the winning that’s done on the ice, being able to compete in the playoffs every year, and not just competing, but giving yourself a chance to win every year, that’s part of development, in my mind. Development is not just about going out and playing hockey, playing a lot of minutes. It’s about playing the right way. It’s about playing with a purpose, and that purpose is to win.”

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has been a bastion of success in the AHL for quite some time now. The club has qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs for 16-consecutive years, the league’s active record. This last season, the Penguins finished with the best record in the AHL, earning the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy for the second time in team history.

Guerin isn’t trying to tamper expectations in his first season at the helm. He’s embracing them.

“There are high expectations [in Wilkes-Barre],” he said. “There’s a good history there, and I plan on following in those footsteps. Not much is going to change in terms of the expectation level. We’re still going to compete for the Calder Cup, we’re still going to develop players for Pittsburgh. I expect our team and our organization to continue to be one of the model organizations of the American Hockey League.”

Guerin’s responsibilities as general manager of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton encompass all hockey operations-related decisions, such as free agent player signings, trades, staffing, etc. Given the wrinkle that the NHL’s expansion to Las Vegas has presented the offseason, he acknowledges that it will probably be a while before he can really zero in on potential roster moves. The NHL and AHL’s roster landscape is still very much in flux with the pending expansion draft.

All of that considered, Guerin isn’t wasting any time when it comes to preparing for the beginning of the unrestricted free agency period on July 1.

“My first order of business is to go over our depth chart and start planning for next year,” he said. “I’m going to go up and down the lineup to see where we’re strong and see where we can improve. We definitely have to look down the middle. Strong teams are always built down the middle.”

Guerin has always been an affable personality and colorful personality dating back to his playing days. In fact, there’s a part of him that you can see that still feels like the same guy who racked up 429 career goals in the NHL. A suit and tie job hasn’t tampered his enjoyment of hockey. He loves being a “hands on” mentor, occasionally hitting the ice with Penguins players at practice in the past.

His front office role allowed him to explore the business from a different angle, too. Since he joined Pittsburgh’s staff as Player Development Coach in 2011, he’s learned how to interact with players from a position of authority, be a teacher and instructor, but still keep things light the way only Bill Guerin can.

The time he spent under the tutelage of Jim Rutherford has proven invaluable to Guerin, too. In the three years Rutherford has spent as Pittsburgh’s GM, the team has captured two Stanley Cups. Surely some of that wisdom has rubbed off on Guerin by now, which is part of what made him the ideal candidate to lead Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to the success that he considers to be so crucial.

“The things that I’ve learned from [Rutherford] is that you have to patient with players, you have to communicate well with your coaches, you have to be loyal and you have to be fair. I’ve learned a lot from Ray [Shero], too.

“I feel like I’m fully prepared for this.”

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

THANKS DAD – A LOOK AT HOCKEY FATHERS AND THEIR WBS KIDS

Ask any professional hockey player who has had the most influence on his playing career, and 99 times out of 100 the answer is: “My parents.”

Almost every hockey player tells tales of mom and/or dad behind the wheel for all those drives to all those early morning practices or out-of-town tournaments, the hours upon hours spent in the stands, cheering on their sons and daughters.

With Father’s Day around the corner, it’s time to shine the spotlight on the patriarchs in these hockey players’ lives.  Here’s a look at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins players whose dads have also played in the pro ranks.


JIM AND JOSH ARCHIBALD

Jim was quite the scorer at the University of North Dakota, with 56 goals and 94 points over four seasons.  He racked up the penalty minutes as well. His 197 PIMs led the NCAA during his senior season in 1984-85.  He also had three AHL stints with the Springfield Indians (1984-87), and appeared in 16 NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars.

Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round (174th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Josh had a break-out season in his third year as a pro. He set career highs with 16 goals, 13 assists and 29 points in 61 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  He potted two goals versus Arizona in his season debut with Pittsburgh on February 11.  But that night most likely pales in comparison to all that transpired a few months later; skating in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final and hoisting the coveted trophy six days later.


TIM AND DEREK ARMY

A four-year letterman at Providence College from 1981-85, Tim Army’s first year as a pro came in the AHL with the Maine Mariners.  Army’s playing career lasted just two seasons as he returned to his alma mater in 1987 as an assistant coach for the Friars.  That would begin a 30-year span as a coach that has seen Army serve as an assistant in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche.

Derek was a well-traveled player during the 2015-16 season.  One of his four stints in the American Hockey League came with the Penguins, where he skated in 13 games and compiled four points.  He would rejoin the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers for the final weeks of the regular season and their improbable run to the Kelly Cup Final.  Army and the Nailers rallied from back-to-back 3-2 series deficits to move past both Reading and South Carolina before falling to the Allen Americans in six games.


DON AND TYLER BIGGS

Eight of Don Biggs‘ 15 seasons as a player were spent in the American Hockey League.  The 5-8 center was named Most Valuable Player in 1992-93 after posting 138 points (54G-84A) in 78 games with the Binghamton Rangers. Biggs also helped the Hershey Bears to the Calder Cup in 1988.

A former first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Biggs came to the Penguins as part of the blockbuster deal that brought Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh organization.  An injury-filled season limited Tyler to just 11 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


MARC AND TAYLOR CHORNEY

Marc and Taylor are the rare father-son combo to both skate for the same organization.  As a defenseman for the University of North Dakota, Marc was picked in the sixth round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He was an All-American who helped North Dakota take home the 1980 NCAA title, and turned pro after his senior season in 1980-81.  Marc went on to skate in 139 games with Pittsburgh before a trade sent him to the Los Angeles Kings in 1983.

Taylor followed in his father’s footsteps, not only in his position as a defenseman, but also in his college choice of North Dakota.   And as his father did, Taylor would also go on to don the black and gold, signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent in the summer of 2014.  He appeared in seven NHL games for the Penguins, while leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a plus-26 rating in 62 games.


ALAIN AND J.P. COTE

In 1977, Alain had the distinction of being selected by Montreal in the third round of the NHL Amateur Draft, while also being picked by the Quebec Nordiques in the WHA Amateur Draft. Choosing to begin his pro career with the Nordiques, both player and team would join the NHL ranks in 1979, following the demise of the WHA. The left-winger skated in 802 total contests for Quebec, including 696 in the NHL.

Jean-Phillipe Cote’s lone season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came in 2008-09, when he recorded two goals, 10 assists and 75 penalty minutes in 50 games.  A veteran of over 600 games in the American Hockey League, Cote has twice had his name etched on the Calder Cup (2007 – Hamilton & 2012 – Norfolk).


JOE AND GREG CROZIER

Joe’s playing career consisted of eight seasons with the Quebec Aces in the QHL, followed by stints with Springfield, Providence and Rochesters in the AHL.  He also suited up for five NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1959-60.  The elder Crozier went on to become one of the most accomplished coaches in American Hockey League history, leading the Rochester Americans to back-to-back Calder Cups in 1964 and 1965, and a third championship in 1967. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2012.

Greg Crozier was a member of the inaugural Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins squad in 1999-00.  As a rookie that year, Crozier registered 44 points in 71 matches and ranked third on the team with 22 goals. The ensuing season saw Greg raise his output, setting career highs in goals (26), assists (44) and points (60) and earning a selection to the 2001 AHL All-Star Game. Crozier also helped lead the Penguins to the Calder Cup Final in just their second year of existence.


DEAN AND BRANDON DEFAZIO

Dean was chosen by the Penguins in the ninth round of the 1981 NHL Draft.  His time as a pro began with the Penguins’ then-AHL affiliate, the Baltimore Skipjacks.  During his rookie season in 1983-84, Dean also made 22 appearances for Pittsburgh.  In three seasons with the Skipjacks, DeFazio mustered 96 points and 373 PIM.

An undrafted free-agent out of Clarkson University, Brandon signed on with the Wheeling Nailers on March 12, 2011.  His impact was immediate, notching nine points (4G-5A) over his first 10 pro games.  DeFazio made the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster out of training camp the following season and showed an early knack for the net (11 goals) and physical play (104 penalty minutes).


MIKE AND BEN EAVES

Mike Eaves is best known for his time as head coach for the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team.  In 14 seasons behind the bench for the Badgers, Eaves led his team to the NCAA tournament seven times and took home the title in 2006.  Not long before being hired by Wisconsin, Eaves was an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1997 to 2000.  He also played eight seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars (1978-83) and Calgary Flames (1983-86).

After a very successful four-year career with Boston College that included the 2001 NCAA Championship, Ben Eaves kicked off his pro career with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2004-05.  The 2001 fourth-round Penguins draft pick netted 10 points (4G-6A) in 43 games as a rookie, but saw his sophomore season limited to just five games due to a knee injury.  He currently serves as assistant coach to his dad, Mike, at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.


JAN AND TIM ERIXON

Jan Erixon was taken in the second round (30th overall) by the New York Rangers in the 1981 NHL Draft. After three seasons with Skelleftea in the Swedish League, Erixon came to the United States to join the Rangers for the 1983-84 season.  He would play 10 years in New York, totaling 556 games played, 57 goals and 159 assists.  He returned to Sweden in 1993 and has been a coach for Skelleftea’s U20 team for the past seven years.

Selected 23rd overall by Calgary in 2009, Erixon was traded to the Rangers before ever skating a game in North America. After being shuttled to Columbus, Chicago and Toronto, it was the Phil Kessel trade that saw Tim settle in with the Penguins.  Over the last two seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Erixon has played in 109 games and logged 37 points (7G-30A).


MIKE AND JAKE GUENTZEL

A defenseman during his playing days at the University of Minnesota (1981-85), Mike Guentzel had a four-game stint with the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL in 1984-85.  He has been a part of the Gophers’ coaching staff since 1994 and helped guide Minnesota to consecutive NCAA Championships in 2002 and 2003 and currently serves as Associate Head Coach for the Gophers.  Mike also had one of the best Dad reactions to his son, Jake, scoring his first NHL goal.

What a year and two months it has been for rookie forward Jake Guentzel.  First, he burst onto the scene last spring with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, leading the team in postseason scoring with 14 points (5G-9A) in 12 games.  For a second act, he officially opened up his pro career with 41 points this season in just 33 contests with the Penguins, and was leading all AHL rookies in scoring before making the permanent jump to Pittsburgh.  Jake scored twice in his NHL debut versus the New York Rangers on Nov. 21 and, for an encore, broke the NHL rookie scoring record with 21 points on 13 goals and 8 assists.  Oh yeah, he also just won the Stanley Cup.


GREG AND ANDREW HOTHAM

Traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs midway through the 1981-82 season, defenseman Greg Hotham came on board with the Penguins to appear in 170 games and notch 74 points (11G-63A).

While skating with the Wheeling Nailers during the 2011-12 campaign, Andrew signed a PTO with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and skated in two tilts.


SAMI AND KASPERI KAPANEN

A five-time Olympic Medalist for Team Finland, Sami Kapanen also enjoyed a 12-year career in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers.  He is the majority owner and head coach of his hometown team of KalPa in the Finnish League.

The highly-talented Kasperi Kapanen was picked 22nd overall by the Penguins in 2014.  He made his North American debut with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Apr. 9, 2015, tallying a goal and an assist against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.  He also added five more points in seven postseason contests.  Kapanen was dealt to Toronto that off-season in the trade the saw Phil Kessell and Tim Erixon join the Penguins.


ERICH AND TOM KUHNHACKL

The achievements match the title bestowed upon Erich Kuhnhackl.  He was named Germany’s Ice Hockey Player of the 20th Century and also inducted to the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.  During his playing career, he won four German championships and led West Germany to a bronze medal in the 1976 Winter Olympics.

Tom, now a fifth-year pro, just raised the Stanley Cup for a second straight year with Pittsburgh.  Known for his shot blocking and penalty killing prowess, Kuhnhackl collected 29 goals and 30 assists in 154 games over parts of four seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


TROY AND TY LONEY

Troy spent 10 of 12 NHL seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1983-1993), skating in 532 games and compiling 980 penalty minutes.  Like several others on this list, Loney twice raised the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

After four years at the University of Denver, Ty signed as a free-agent with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2015-16 season.  He posted six assists in 31 games with the Penguins and was also a key cog for the Wheeling Nailers in reaching the 2016 Kelly Cup Final.


GREG AND RYAN MALONE

Drafted 19th overall by the Penguins in 1976, Greg Malone’s first game as a professional came in Pittsburgh that same year.  Malone added 494 games played to his resume with the Penguins to go along with 364 points. Following his retirement in 1987, Malone served as Pittsburgh’s Director of Scouting from 1989 to 2007.

After the completion of his senior season at St. Cloud State University, Ryan joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2003 for three regular season contests, but that would be the only action Malone saw in Northeast PA. The 1999 fourth-round draft pick made the big club out of camp the next season and went on to spend four years in Pittsburgh, while registering 169 points (87G-82A) in 299 games.


GERRY AND COLIN MCDONALD

From 1980-84, Gerry skated in 273 American Hockey League games between the New Haven Nighthawks and Binghamton Whalers.  He collected 21 goals, 106 assists and also appeared in eight NHL contests with the Hartford Whalers.

Colin was the Penguins’ third-leading scorer in 2011-12 with 49 points, and led the team with 35 assists in 68 games.  He turned up his production in the postseason with 13 points (6G-7A) in 12 playoff tilts.


GILLES AND ERIC MELOCHE

Gillies has been involved with the Penguins organization for more than 30 years.  The final three seasons of an 18-year professional career (which also saw stops in Oakland, Cleveland and Minnesota) were spent as a backstop in Pittsburgh.  After hanging up the pads and skates, Meloche joined the front office as a goaltending coach and scout.

A four-year letterman at Ohio State and a seventh-round pick of the Penguins in 1996, Eric was a part of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s trips to the Calder Cup Final in both 2001 and 2004.  Over four seasons, he skated in 249 games for the Penguins and he ranks in the top-ten all-time for the team in both goals (61) and points (138).


BILL AND BRENDAN MIKKELSON

Bill’s AHL career is a veritable history lesson, having played for the Springfield Kings, Baltimore Clippers, Richmond Robins, Rhode Island Reds and Hershey Bears.  As a rookie defenseman, he lifted the Calder Cup with the Kings in 1971.

Brendan’s time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came in 2013-14, when he led team defenseman with 38 points (8G-30A) in 73 games.  Mikkelson and the Penguins made it to the Eastern Conference Final that season before falling to St. John’s in six games.


KENT AND ROBERT NILSSON

Kent Nilsson is not lacking hardware from an 18-year career that included 10 seasons in North America.  He won WHA Championships with the Winnipeg Jets in 1978 and ’79, the Stanley Cup in 1987 with the Edmonton Oilers and a Swedish Hockey League title two years later with Djurgardens IF. He was also inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

Robert played in just 19 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2006-07 as part of a dual affiliation that season with the Edmonton Oilers.  He was a point per game player for the Penguins, notching six goals and 14 assists during his short time in the Wyoming Valley.


BILL AND WILL O’NEILL

Bill O’Neill just completed his 37th season as head coach of the Salem State men’s hockey team in Massachusetts.  He has earned over 500 wins, just the seventh coach in Division III to accomplish this feat, and has led the Vikings to seven NCAA Tournament appearances.

Joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the 2015-16 season, Will became just the fourth defenseman in Penguins history to reach the 50 point mark and the first since Micki Dupont in 2006-07.  Will racked up eight goals and 42 assists in 74 contests, while being selected to the AHL All-Star Classic and an AHL Second Team All-Star.


GLENN AND CURTISS PATRICK

One of the founding fathers of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, Glenn Patrick was head coach of the black and gold for their first four seasons in Northeast Pennsylvania.  In just his second year behind the bench, he piloted the Penguins to the Calder Cup Final in 2001.  Prior to his coaching stint, Patrick played in the AHL with Hampton and Hershey, in the WHA with Edmonton, and in the NHL with St. Louis, California and Cleveland.

Curtiss spent his first three seasons as a pro with the Wheeling Nailers from 2004-07. It was during the 2006-07 season that he received a call-up to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, appearing in 10 games.

(Note:  The Patricks are considered the “Royal Family of Hockey”. Curtiss’ uncle is Craig Patrick, the former General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hockey Hall of Famer, who helped construct the Penguins’ 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup Champion rosters.  Curtis’ great-grandfather is Lester Patrick, considered one of the architects of modern hockey.  And his grandfather, Lynn, was a two-time All-Star as well as a Stanley Cup Champion with the 1940 New York Rangers.)


JACEK AND MATHIAS PLACHTA

Born in Chrozow, Poland, Jacek Plachta played all 19 of his professional seasons in Germany, totaling 363 points in just over 800 contests.  Plachta also skated numerous times for the Team Poland in international competition.

Mathias’ 2015-16 campaign marked his lone season in North America. Plachta began with the Springfield Falcons before being acquired by the Penguins before the trade deadline.  In 20 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he gathered seven points.


STEVE AND DANNY RICHMOND

Steve’s AHL career saw him appear in 196 games between the New Haven Nighthawks, Adirondack Red Wings and Utica Devils, registering 18 goals and 85 assists.  It was with Adirondack that the defenseman lifted the Calder Cup in 1986.  Richmond has served as the Washington Capitals’ Director of Player Development for the past 15 seasons.

A veteran of 480 American Hockey League games, Danny Richmond appeared in 55 contests for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the 2008-09 season.  He posted three goals, 14 assists and 108 penalty minutes before being acquired by the St. Louis Blues on Mar. 4, 2009.


ULF AND PHILIP SAMUELSSON

As feared a hitter as there ever was in the NHL, Ulf Samuelsson was a member of Pittsburgh’s first back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.  Retiring in 2000, Samuelsson played more the 1000 NHL games with Hartford, Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers and Detroit.

A second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, Philip skated his first three-and-a-half seasons as a pro in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. A stay-at-home defenseman, Samuelsson recorded 45 points in 197 games before being traded to the Arizona Coyotes.

We would be remiss if we failed to mention this grandfather-grandson connection….


ANDY AND ANDY BATHGATE

Andy Bathgate was recently named one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players.”  He skated for 17 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Detroit, Toronto and Pittsburgh.  His few AHL appearances saw him help the Cleveland Barons take home the Calder Cup in 1954 and a six-game stint with the Pittsburgh Hornets during the 1966-67 season.  Bathgate was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.

The younger Andy Bathgate had a brief two-game stay with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2011 following his third season with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls.  He returned to the Ontario Hockey League the following season and amassed 63 points in 68 games for the Plymouth Whalers.

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

STANLEY CUP CONNECTIONS

They did it again.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship on Sunday, June 11, defeating the Nashville Predators, 2-0, to keep the treasured trophy in the Steel City for another year.

In a few weeks, the Cup will see the names of more than four dozen Penguins players, coaches and support staffers etched onto its base.  And, as in both the 2009 and 2016 championship seasons, there will be no shortage of connections to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins there.

Twelve Pittsburgh Penguins players who qualify to have their names on the chalice have played at least one game with the AHL Penguins.  Kris Letting and Marc-Andre Fleury become the first three-time champions to pass through Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Matt Murray, Tom Kuhnhackl, Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta have been members of both of the Pens back-to-back teams.

Joining that group of repeat winners are newbies Carter Rowney, Jake Guentzel, Josh Archibald and Scott Wilson.  Wilson was a member of Pittsburgh’s Cup run last spring, but due to injuries and a lack of games played, did not qualify to have his name on the trophy.  Rowney, Guentzel and Archibald all spent parts of this season in NEPA.

Head coach Mike Sullivan spent part of the 2015-16 season guiding Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before being promoted to Pittsburgh, and is now the first head coach since the great Toe Blake in 1956 and 1957 to guide a team to Stanley Cups in his first two years behind an NHL bench.

Three other former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staffers figure to see their names written in hockey immortality for a second straight season as well.  Patrick Steidle spent more than a decade with his hometown team before joining Pittsburgh’s athletic training staff in 2013.  Jim Britt worked his way up from intern in Wilkes-Barre to his current position as the Pens team services manager.  And Andy Saucier parlayed two seasons as the AHL team’s video coach into the same position with Pittsburgh.

Players and coaches with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ties have been featured on the Stanley Cup in seven of the past nine seasons.  Here’s a year-by-year view of some names you probably know.

2017 (Pittsburgh Penguins):  Josh Archibald, Brian Dumoulin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jake Guentzel, Tom Kuhnhackl, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Matt Murray, Carter Rowney, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Scott Wilson, Mike Sullivan

2016 (Pittsburgh Penguins):  Brian Dumoulin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Tom Kuhnhackl, Kris Letang, Ben Lovejoy, Olli Maatta, Matt Murray, Kevin Porter, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Jeff Zatkoff, Mike Sullivan

2015 (Chicago Blackhawks):  Daniel Carcillo, Michal Rozsival

2013 (Chicago Blackhawks):  Daniel Carcillo, Michal Rozsival

2012 (Los Angeles Kings):  Rob Scuderi

2011 (Boston Bruins):  Andrew Ference

2009 (Pittsburgh Penguins):  Marc-Andre Fleury, Alex Goligoski, Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Miroslav Satan, Rob Scuderi, Max Talbot, Dan Bylsma, Mike Yeo

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PENGUINS WIN BACK-TO-BACK STANLEY CUPS, WITH HELP FROM WILKES-BARRE


The Pittsburgh Penguins won their fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history on Sunday night, becoming the first team in two decades to capture the championship in back-to-back seasons. Just like Pittsburgh’s third and fourth Cup titles, this year continued the tradition of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins stars playing a significant role in securing the game’s highest honor.

Four players that began the 2016-17 season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Pittsburgh. Jake Guentzel, Carter Rowney, Josh Archibald and Chad Ruhwedel all began the year in the American Hockey League and saw their seasons end in Pittsburgh as Stanley Cup Champions.

Guentzel, who led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in goals (21), assists (21) and points (42) at the time of his final call-up to Pittsburgh on Jan. 16, went on a tear in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the likes of which have rarely been seen before. The Woodbury, Minn. native unloaded 13 goals and 21 points during the postseason, setting new records for American-born rookies in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Additionally, his 21 points tied the all-time record for rookie points in a single postseason and five game-winning goals established a new rookie record. Guentzel was named to the AHL’s 2016-17 All-Rookie Team on Apr. 5, 2017.

Rowney played in 20 of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording three points in that time and becoming a regular contributor on the team’s penalty kill. All of those points came in a three-assist performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, May 21. An undrafted free agent after spending four years at the University of North Dakota, Rowney started his pro career playing for the Penguins’ ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, before working his way up to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Grand Prairie, Alb. native became Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s team MVP for the 2015-16 season and earned his first NHL call-up this season.

Archibald played in four games for the Penguins on their playoff run, including one game in the Stanley Cup Final. He did not record any points in that time, but by virtue of dressing one game in the Final, he is eligible to have his name etched onto the Stanley Cup along with Guentzel and Rowney. The 24-year-old third-year pro shattered his previous AHL career-highs in all offensive categories this past season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, posting 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 points in 61 games.

Signed by Pittsburgh as a free agent this past summer, Ruhwedel participated in six of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup Playoff games before suffering a concussion in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. He becomes the first player from San Diego, Calif. to win the Stanley Cup. Ruhwedel scored his first NHL goal earlier in the season with Pittsburgh on Dec. 23, 2016.

In addition to those four, Pittsburgh’s championship team featured eight more players who once played for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Tom Kühnhackl, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Scott Wilson, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Määttä, Marc-André Fleury and Matt Murray. Furthermore, Pittsburgh’s head coach, Mike Sullivan, served as bench boss in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the 2015-16 season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton season ticket packages for the 2017-18 season, including 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

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PLAYING FOR THE PENGUINS “WILL NEVER GET OLD” FOR HOMETOWN BOY PATRICK McGRATH

Patrick McGrath used to watch Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from behind the glass. He was six years old when he sat in the stands at the then Wachovia Arena for his first hockey game. Little did he know then, he’d end up skating on the other side of that glass for that same team.

Inking another American Hockey League contract with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this morning, McGrath guaranteed that he’d be suiting up for his hometown team for the third season in a row. It’ll be another year of wearing the Penguin logo on his chest and pulling that black and gold sweater over his head before every game.

“That’ll never get old,” McGrath said. “That’s always special. That’s your hometown team I grew up watching and that got me into hockey.”

The allure of playing only a few miles away from his backyard wasn’t the only reason the Shavertown native decided to re-up with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. For him, the biggest factors were the organization’s on-ice success and the friendships forged in the locker room last season.

“It was a pretty easy decision,” he said. “I mean, last year the season we had, the group of guys we had, the coaching staff and the organization as a whole, Pittsburgh all the way down, they’re in the Stanley Cup Final again. All of that makes the decision easy.”

McGrath will be looking to build on what was his most successful season as a pro. In his fourth season of professional hockey, it was the first time he spent the entire year at the AHL level. In 30 games, he notched four points (1G-3A) and 89 penalty minutes. McGrath scored the first goal of his AHL career on Apr. 8, 2017 while the Penguins were visiting the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Spending extended time at the AHL level without interruptions from injury or reassignment provided McGrath with not only an ever-important addition of confidence, but plenty of experience he plans to draw on moving forward in his career.

“From a developmental standpoint, [last season] was huge for me,” McGrath said. “It was a big step in my career being able to stay here the whole season and being able to contribute and play in a lot more games… It was a fun year. Like I said, the group of guys we had make it a lot more fun. Getting that goal was pretty special, too. That was fun.”

McGrath has already taken to the weight room at the team’s facility at the Toyota SportsPlex to start training for the 2017-18 campaign. Regular ice sessions are sure to follow, too. In terms of what he’ll be working on, McGrath already has a pretty good idea of what his objectives are for next season.

“I want to score more than one goal now,” he said. “I’ll be working on that.”

GUENTZEL SETS RECORDS IN GAME TWO WIN

Last year Jake Guentzel led the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in playoff scoring.

This year he’s rewriting the National Hockey League’s record books.

The rookie phenom tallied two times on Wednesday night, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final.  The defending champions lead the best-of-seven series, 2-0, with the series switching to Tennessee for Game Three on Saturday night.

Guentzel now has 12 goals in 21 games so far in his first foray into the NHL postseason, putting him just two goals shy of the league mark for goals by a rookie in the playoffs.  That record of 14 was set by the Dino Ciccarelli, who appeared in 19 games with the Minnesota North Stars during that team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1981.

The Pittsburgh forward also sits just two points shy of Ciccarelli’s mark of 21 points by a first-year player.

But while Guentzel is still chasing down Ciccarelli’s records, he’s already set a few others this spring.

Guentzel’s second tally in Game Two was his fifth game-winning goal of the playoffs, setting a new record for most GWGs by a rookie in NHL history.  That decisive score also moved him past Jeremy Roenick for most goals by an American-born rookie in the playoffs, and his 19 points set a new standard for American-born rookies as well, surpassing both Roenick and Joey Mullen.

On the team side, Guentzel’s point total is, by far, the most by a Pittsburgh rookie in the postseason, surpassing the previous mark of 13 set by Jaromir Jagr in 1991.  He also established a new record for fastest goal from the start of a period, when he tallied 10 seconds into the third frame on Wednesday to give the Penguins their first lead of the night.



UPCOMING SCHEDULE

DATE ROAD TEAM HOME TEAM TIME/RESULT
Monday, May 29 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Win
Wednesday, May 31 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 Win
Saturday, June 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators 8:00pm
Monday, June 5 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators 8:00pm
*Thursday, June 8 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00pm
*Sunday, June 11 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators 8:00pm
*Wednesday, June 14 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00pm

* = if necessary


Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season are on sale now.  Call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367 to get yours, or fill in the form below, and a Penguins account executive will reach out to you.

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

GUENTZEL JOINS SPECIAL GROUP OF WBS GRADS


Jake Guentzel joined a distinguished list of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins alumni with his performance in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

The Pittsburgh Penguins forward beat Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation for what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Pens 5-3 victory at the PPG Paints Arena. In the process, he became the fifth player to skate with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to tally the deciding goal in a Stanley Cup Final game.

Tyler Kennedy became the first WBS graduate to score the winner in the NHL’s championship round when he potted the second goal in a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game Six on June 9, 2009. Three days later, Maxime Talbot netted both Pittsburgh goals in a 2-1 Game Seven victory, securing the Penguins third championship in the process.

Conor Sheary joined the group when he scored 2:35 into overtime of Game Two against the San Jose Sharks, leading Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win on June 1, 2016.

Kris Letang became the second Wilkes-Barre/Scranton product to record the championship clinching goal when he notched the second score in a 3-1 win over San Jose in Game Six on June 12 last season.

Guentzel’s game-winner on Monday night was his 10th goal in his first go around in the NHL postseason, a mark which leads all players. His 17 points (10+7) in 20 games ranks sixth among all skaters this spring.



SPECIAL SAUCE

Another influential individual with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ties in Monday night’s win was Pittsburgh video coach Andy Saucier.

Predators defenseman P.K. Subban appeared to give the visitors a 1-0 lead early in the game, but Saucier spotted an uncalled offside infraction on Filip Forsberg on the play leading up to the goal. Saucier informed the Penguins bench, who challenged the play. The resulting review negated the tally and kept the game scoreless.

Pittsburgh went on to score the next three goals, and never trailed in the game as a result.

Saucier spent two seasons (2010-2012) serving as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s video coach.


FINALS DEBUTS

Guentzel and Carter Rowney became the most recent Wilkes-Barre/Scranton products to make their Stanley Cup Final debuts by appearing in Monday night’s win. In all, nine players who suited up for Pittsburgh on Monday (Guentzel, Rowney, Sheary, Wilson, Dumoulin, Murray, Fleury, Rust, Maatta) have previously appeared in at least one game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


UPCOMING SCHEDULE

DATE ROAD TEAM HOME TEAM TIME/RESULT
Monday, May 29 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Win
Wednesday, May 31 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00pm
Saturday, June 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators 8:00pm
Monday, June 5 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators 8:00pm
*Thursday, June 8 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00pm
*Sunday, June 11 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators 8:00pm
*Wednesday, June 14 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00pm

* = if necessary


Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season are on sale now.  Call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367 to get yours, or fill in the form below, and a Penguins account executive will reach out to you.

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

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS HEADED BACK TO STANLEY CUP FINAL


The Pittsburgh Penguins are headed the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season, following Thursday night’s 3-2, double overtime win over the Ottawa Senators in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final.  The Penguins will meet the Nashville Predators in the National Hockey League’s championship series starting on Monday night.

The full schedule for the Stanley Cup Final is below.  All times are to be determined:

DATE ROAD TEAM HOME TEAM
Monday, May 29 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins
Wednesday, May 31 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins
Saturday, June 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators
Monday, June 5 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators
*Thursday, June 8 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins
*Sunday, June 11 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators
*Wednesday, June 14 Nashville Predators Pittsburgh Penguins

* = if necessary

The Penguins are the first team to appear in back-to-back finals since the 2008 and 2009 postseasons, when the Penguins and Detroit Red Wings faced off at the end of both campaigns.  They will attempt to become the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings.

This will be the sixth finals appearance for the Penguins, with each coming in back-to-back fashion (1991 and 1992; 2008 and 2009; 2016 and 2017).  It is also the fourth appearance in the final for the Penguins in the past 10 seasons, the most of any team in that time span.



Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, who guided Pittsburgh to the team’s fourth title last season, is looking to join an exclusive coaching club this spring.  Sullivan can become just the second head coach in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in his first two seasons behind the bench, joining the legendary Toe Blake, who accomplished the feat with the Montreal Canadiens in 1956 and 1957.  He also won the Cup with the Habs in each of the following three seasons as well.


Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season are on sale now.  Call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367 to get yours, or fill in the form below, and a Penguins account executive will reach out to you.

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

ROWNEY REVS UP PITTSBURGH IN GAME FIVE

Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

There was a lot to like about the performance the Pittsburgh Penguins put on Sunday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators.  But perhaps the most impressive group on the day was the trio of Nick Bonino, Bryan Rust and Carter Rowney.

The team’s so-called third line accounted for seven points (1+6) in the Pens’ 7-0 drubbing of the Sens, giving the defending Stanley Cup champs a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Final.

Rust made his mark last spring, when his speed and energy helped spur the Penguins on to their fourth NHL championship.  And Rowney, playing in his first postseason at this  level, has contributed by bringing puck control and possession to the line.

But until Sunday, Rowney had yet to chip in on the scoresheet.

That changed in a big way, though.

The former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward picked up three assists in the game, earning first star honors for his performance.

“It was a matter of time [before getting a point],” Rowney said from the media riser after the game.  “I kind of felt like if you keep doing the right things out there, hopefully some chances will capitalize and you will get your opportunities.”

PENS CONNECTIONS

Rowney, Chad Ruhwedel, Jake Guentzel and Josh Archibald all appeared in games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year before taking part in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Twelve of the 25 players to see game action in the 2017 postseason with Pittsburgh have appeared in at least one game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season are on sale now.  Call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367 to get yours, or fill in the form below, and a Penguins account executive will reach out to you.

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

MAATTA MADE HIS PRO DEBUT IN WILKES-BARRE


Olli Maatta has goals in back-to-back games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, including the opening tally in a 7-0 win on Sunday.  He’s now helped the defending Stanley Cup champions to a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators.

Now playing in his fourth NHL season, Maatta is one of the brightest young stars on the Pittsburgh roster.  But what many don’t realize, is that the former first round draft choice played his first pro games in Wilkes-Barre.

A native of Jyvaskyla, Finland, Maatta made the move to North America prior to the 2011-12 season, joining the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.  His 32 points (5+27) in 58 games was tops among Knights defensemen, and drew the attention of NHL scouts.

The Penguins scooped up the blue liner with the 22nd pick in the 2012 draft, and saw him continue to blossom the following season.  Once again, he led London defenseman with 38 points (8+30), helped the club to the top regular season record in the OHL, and the league’s playoff championship.

Following the conclusion of the Knights’ season, Maatta jumped right into the heat of the Calder Cup Playoffs with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The defenseman suited up for Games Three, Four and Five of the Eastern Conference Final against the Syracuse Crunch.  The Penguins fell in all three of those contests and were knocked out of the playoffs, but fans in NEPA did get a chance to see Maatta skate on the Mohegan Sun Arena ice.

The 22-year old has been through a lot since then.  He won a bronze medal with Team Finland at the 2014 Winter Olympics, battled and beat cancer, missed most of the 2014-15 season after multiple shoulder surgeries, and captured a Stanley Cup last season.

GAME FIVE WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS CONNECTIONS:

  • Carter Rowney was scoreless in his first 11 Stanley Cup playoff contests, but broke that string when he notched an assist on the Penguins’ third goal of the afternoon.  He wasn’t done though, as he picked up two more helpers on the afternoon, giving him three points in the game and the postseason.
  • Matt Murray stopped 25 shots for his second career Stanley Cup playoff shutout.  His first was a 31 save effort on April 21 of last season against the New York Rangers.  That was Murray’s second career postseason appearance with Pittsburgh.
  • Murray is now 17-6 all-time in the postseason for Pittsburgh.
  • Bryan Rust and Scott Wilson each posted goals in Sunday’s win.

Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season are on sale now.  Call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367 to get yours, or fill in the form below, and a Penguins account executive will reach out to you.

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