THOMAS SHOOTING FOR OLYMPIC DREAM

Christian Thomas is off to a solid start to the season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, posting six points (2+4) through the team’s first eight games.

But the speedy left wing won’t be in the team’s lineup for it’s upcoming three-game home stand.

No, Thomas isn’t being benched or disciplined.  He’ll actually be overseas shooting for a spot with the Canadian Olympic team.

Thomas is among the players who will be skating for his home country in the Karjala Cup, an annual tournament being held in Sweden, Switzerland and Finland starting on November 8.  This year’s competition is being used as a proving ground for potential Olympians from six countries.

“I never would have thought I would have a chance to play U-17, U-18 as a young hockey player,” said Thomas, who has previously represented his country while a junior player.  “This tournament here, as a good evaluation for the Olympics, is three games.  Just play your best and maybe you can wear that Canada jersey in the Olympics.”

The Winter Olympics have featured National Hockey League players suiting up for their home countries since 1998.  But when the NHL and International Olympic Committee could not come to an agreement for the upcoming Games, which are being held in South Korea, a door was opened for a new group of skaters to take part.

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 is the lone player currently suiting up in the AHL on Canada’s roster.

“I was talking to my agent about it, that I would have a chance  [to make the Olympics] this summer, signing an AHL deal,” said Thomas.  “I got a call from Sean Burke [Team Canada General Manager], and he asked if I would like to join the tournament.  He just needed the go ahead from Pittsburgh to allow me to miss some games here.  I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Now, just three months from the start of the Pyeongchang Games, Thomas has a chance to live out a dream.

“To represent your country is pretty special,” said Thomas.  “This year having that rule with the NHL players not being allowed to participate really helps out.  But just to be able to put on the Canada jersey is pretty cool.”

NOTES:  Team Canada’s schedule at the Karjala Cup features games against Switzerland (Wednesday, November 8), Sweden (Friday, November 10) and Finland (Sunday, November 12)…Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Andrew Ebbett, Chris Lee and Simon Despres are also on Team Canada’s roster.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ next home game will be on Sunday, Nov. 5, and once again they’ll take on the Hershey Bears. Puck drop for the Sunday matinée between the two bitter rivals is scheduled for 3:05 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 full season22-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

PENGUINS PODCAST w/ ADAM JOHNSON

Obie and Nick have Adam Johnson stop by the Penguins Podcast this week. Adam confesses why he is known as Squidward, discusses Minnesota hockey rivalries and his inadvertent destruction of planet Earth. Before that though, Obie and Nick breakdown last weekend’s results and preview the Penguins’ upcoming opponents.

PENGUINS WEEKLY – 10/31/17

Penguins carry five-game win streak into rivalry weekend

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (6-2-0-0) set for state supremacy skirmish

 

Weekly Rewind

Friday, Oct. 27 – PENGUINS 3 vs. Hershey 2
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton saw its I-81 rival erase a 2-0 deficit, but Dominik Simon’s third period power play goal gave the Penguins their fourth-straight win. Tristan Jarry turned aside 30 shots and stood tall amidst a late-game barrage from the Bears. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also scored its first extra attacker goal of the season when Jean-Sébastien Dea found the back of the net during a delayed penalty in the first period.

Saturday, Oct. 28 – PENGUINS 5 at Bridgeport 2
The Penguins saw multi-point nights from a handful of players, but perhaps no performance was more key than that of Ryan Haggerty, who notched two tallies in his first game of 2017-18. Adam Johnson also scored his first goal as a pro while Jarry earned the “W” in back-to-back starts for the team’s fifth in a row.

 

The Week Ahead

Friday, Nov. 3 – PENGUINS at Lehigh Valley
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fell in its last visit to PPL Center, but still owns a daunting 13-4-1-1 all-time record in Allentown. The Phantoms recently saw a six-game winning streak come to an end, but their high-flying forward Danick Martel leads the league with 10 goals. Through two contests this season, the Penguins and Phantoms are deadlocked at 1-1-0-0 records.

Sunday, Nov. 5 – PENGUINS vs. Hershey
The Penguins return to home ice for a Sunday matinée with the Bears. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 13-6-0-0 in its last 19 games against Hershey, but 11 of those games were decided by a one-goal margin. This match-up will take place during the Penguins’ first-ever Harry Potter Day and is also a Kids Get In Free Sunday. Children aged 14 and under receive free admission to the game with the paid purchase of an adult ticket.

 

Ice Chips

– Daniel Sprong leads the AHL in power play goals (5) and is tied for the rookie lead in goals (7) and points (10).

– Including the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, seven of Sprong’s 12 AHL goals have come on the power play.

– Dominik Simon is currently on a four-game point streak (1G-4A).

– Saturday was Jean-Sébastien Dea’s 200th AHL game and thus his 200th game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He is the 29th player in team history to skate in 200 games with the Penguins.

– Saturday was Ryan Haggerty’s third multi-goal game with the Penguins and the fifth of his pro career.

– Tom Kostopoulos is two games away from his 700th AHL game.

 

DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS Pt%
1. Providence 8 6 2 0 0 12 .883
2. PENGUINS 8 6 2 0 0 12 .786
3. Lehigh Valley 10 7 2 0 1 15 .714
4. Charlotte 9 6 3 0 0 12 .667
5. Hartford 10 4 5 0 1 9 .500
6. Hershey 9 3 5 0 1 7 .333
7. Bridgeport 8 3 5 0 0 6 .250
8. Springfield 10 1 8 1 0 3 .143

 

TEAM LEADERS

SKATERS GP G A PTS
Daniel Sprong* 8 7 3 10
Dominik Simon 8 2 7 9
Christian Thomas 8 2 4 6
Kevin Czuczman 8 0 5 5
four players tied 5

 

GOALIES GP W-L-OT GAA SV% Shutouts
Casey DeSmith 3 3-0-0 0.98 .965 1
Tristan Jarry^ 5 3-2-0 3.18 .897 0

* = rookie

^ = currently with Pittsburgh

 

UPCOMING GAME SCHEDULE

DATE                 OPPONENT        LOCATION                           TIME    

Fri, Nov. 3          Lehigh Valley      PPL Center                            7:05 p.m.

Sun, Nov. 5       Hershey               Mohegan Sun Arena           3:05 p.m.

 

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Mon, Oct. 23      (G)     Casey DeSmith                     Recalled by PIT

Wed, Oct. 25      (G)     Colin Stevens                         Signed to PTO

Mon, Oct. 30      (G)     Casey DeSmith               Reassigned by PIT

Mon, Oct. 30      (G)     Tristan Jarry                           Recalled by PIT

HARRY POTTER DAY WITH THE PENGUINS


Jump on the Hogwarts Express and head on down to the Mohegan Sun Arena when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins celebrate Harry Potter Day against the Hershey Bears next Sunday, November 5 at 3:05pm.

It’s Harry Potter Day, and we’ll be having a costume contest for all of the wizards and muggles alike, with great prizes thanks to our friends at the Wyoming Valley Mall

Plus, it’s another KIDS FREE SUNDAY, with fans ages 14 and under admitted for FREE with a paid adult ticket. Then stick around for our public skating session, featuring Tux and a few of his Penguins friends.

Tickets are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office or by calling 570-208-7367.

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

PENGUINS PODCAST w/ KEVIN SPINOZZI

Obie and Nick’s guest this week is Penguins defenseman Kevin Spinozzi. He tells us what character he would be on “The Office”, about growing up the son of a hockey coach and reflects on his pro debut with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Oct. 27 against the Hershey Bears at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop for the first meeting of the season between those two bitter rivals 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 full season22-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

BURTON LOOKING TO LOCK UP SPOT WITH WBS

Jarrett Burton was all smiles as reporters approached him at his locker following the first day of training camp.  Not only was he excited to get back on the ice in preparation for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season, but he was happy to get a little relief from the soaring templates outside.

“Everyone’s happy to be back in the rink, especially during this heat wave right now we have going on,” he laughed, noting the 90 degree temperatures hitting northeast Pennsylvania.

Now entering his fourth training camp with the Penguins, Burton is looking to grab a regular spot in the team’s lineup.  He spent the majority of the 2016-17 campaign with Wilkes-Barre, notching 11 points (7+4) in 39 regular season games.

But Burton is hardly taking his opportunity to earn a roster spot out of camp for granted.

“You want to make sure that you’re always working as hard as you can,” he stated.  “Everyone’s on a clean slate.  It’s a brand new season, and everyone’s looking to make a great impression.”

One person who Burton has left a mark on already is Clark Donatelli.  The Penguins head coach was behind the bench in Wheeling when Burton first turned pro back in 2014, and has seen the 26-year old forward continue to develop.

“Burts is really good on face-offs, he kills a lot of our penalties,” Donatelli said.  “Great two-way player, and has a lot of responsibilities defensively.

“He’s going to develop and continue to get better.”

Burton is on a career path similar to one that his former teammate – Carter Rowney – travled.  Rowney  started out playing in Wheeling, moved up to full time duty with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, then made the leap to Pittsburgh last year.

“I got to see what Carter does and how hard he works every single day, which is something that a lot of guys are fortunate that they’ve been able to see,” he said.  “He’s always been a great two-way player, but he just keeps on getting better each year.  That’s something that you can learn from a guy like that.”

Donatelli doesn’t see any reason why Burton couldn’t be the next former Nailer to suit up in the NHL.

“He’s proved that he can play here in the American Hockey League, and now he’s going to try to make that next step.”


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins open up their exhibition schedule this Wednesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena against the Hershey Bears.  Tickets are available at the arena box office, by phone at 570-208-7367 or online at TicketMaster.com.

Season ticket packages for the 2017-18 season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly.

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

WBS TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK: SEPTEMBER 24, 2017


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hit the Toyota Sportsplex ice for the start of training camp on Sunday morning, and stayed until the afternoon.

Coach Clark Donatelli and his staff ran the 28 players on the team’s initial roster through a more than two hour practice, that finally came to a conclusion just after 12:30pm.

For Donatelli, it was a chance to get an extended look at several fresh faces.

“A lot of the guys are new.  The guys are coming out here, trying to make an impression,” he said.  “Every practice we rank all of the players and then we go over it as a staff…I thought some guys here made some good first impressions.”

About half of the players in camp are free agents or inked to ECHL contracts.  And, with a considerable number of players still in camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins, these early practices, as well as this week’s exhibition games, present opportunities for unknown youngsters to leave their marks.

“We’ve got two games here (Wednesday versus Hershey; Friday versus Binghamton) that we’re going to play, and we’re going to a lot of looks at some of the guys we don’t know,” Donatelli said.  “Then we’re going to settle in and see what happens with Pitt with guys coming down for games three and four (Saturday at Hershey; Sunday at Binghamton).”

While it’s likely many of the players currently in Wilkes-Barre won’t be here to start the season, performances in these preseason contests could help in decision on call ups later in the year.

“If some of the guys have to go down to Wheeling, obviously then we’re going to have a good read on what they are,” Donatelli stated.

SHORT SUMMER

While Sunday morning saw hockey return to NEPA for the first time since late April, Donatelli hasn’t been away from the sport very much over the past few months.

After Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s season came to an unexpected early end, Donatelli and assistants J.D. Forrest and Chris Taylor (now with the Rochester Americans), worked with Pittsburgh’s practice squad as they advanced to their second straight Stanley Cup championship through late June.

Donatelli and Forrest then stepped behind the bench to lead the American entry at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in early August; traveled to Buffalo for the 2017 Prospects Challenge a month later; and spent a week with the NHL club as the Pens opened training camp.

“We had a short break, but it was great,” he said.  “Anytime you’re winning Stanley Cups, you’re playing a long time.  So that experience was great and our guys loved it.

“Short summer, but I’m excited to be back.”

SCHEDULE

The Pens will practice at the Toyota Sportsplex again on Monday and Tuesday mornings at 10:30am, before the action moves to the Mohegan Sun Arena for Wednesday’s opening exhibition contest.  All practices at the Toyota Sportsplex are free and open to the public.

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

FASTER, SMARTER GARDINER RETURNS TO PENGUINS


Reid Gardiner was always a standout in the Western Hockey League. Then he became a standout at the Penguins’ rookie tournament in London, Ontario last summer. Shortly thereafter, he became a standout at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton training camp. Gardiner turned a ton a success in a short period of time into an American Hockey League contract with the Penguins last year, and was expected to be a rookie standout for the eventual Kirkpatrick Trophy winners.

When the season started though, Gardiner found that he wasn’t the same beast he was in the WHL. He didn’t have the same open spaces he found in London. The confidence he gained at training camp slowly waned.

Despite showcasing his jaw-dropping shot and pure scoring ability on occasion with the Penguins in 23 games, he decided it would suit him better to utilize his final year of eligibility and return to juniors. The Penguins obliged and returned him to the WHL where he had a unique career opportunity. Gardiner suited up alongside his younger brother, Erik.

“It was special for me and my family,” Reid said. “It was lots of fun, [Erik] being a young guy on the team and me wanting to teach him a few things especially after my pro experience in Wilkes-Barre. I thought we had moments where we maybe didn’t like each other so much, but most of the time we got a long. That’s brother stuff, I guess. I loved every second of it.”

After taking a few games to re-acclimate to a more wide-open style of hockey played at the junior level, Gardiner found his scoring touch again with the Kelowna Rockets. He posted 37 points (18G-19A) in 28 games before unloading a whopping 15 playoff goals and 28 playoff points in only 17 contests during the WHL postseason.

Once the offseason rolled around, Gardiner made the decision to turn pro once again. While there were presumably many suitors for his services after the offensive flair he showed in Kelowna, one team made the most sense: the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Penguins’ upcoming training camp will serve as the first chapter in Gardiner’s second term with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and he’s determined to show them that he’s better than he was when they allowed him to return to juniors and play alongside his younger brother.

“I want to show management and coaches and the like that I’ve made huge strides over the summer,” Gardiner said. “I am a better player. Over first few weeks of the season, maybe my role gets more defined, but right now I’m just trying to put my best foot forward.”

What’s the biggest difference between last year and the Gardiner 2.0 model he’s been advertising? He says he more mature and knows what to expect from the pro style now, and he catered his training around those traits.

“I think I can maybe hang onto the puck for a half a second longer and keep my head up to make a play,” he said. “I know the pro game now. There won’t be as much as a learning curve. I like to think my skating has improved, too. So people can expect to see a faster player, and hopefully more points come from that.”

The Penguins coaching staff is expecting more points to come from Gardiner, too. At the 2017 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, New York earlier this month, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Clark Donatelli discussed Gardiner’s return to the black and gold and what he thinks the stocky sniper can accomplish.

“We want him shooting the puck,” Donatelli said. “[Gardiner] is a player with a really nice shot, he’s a goal scorer. Hopefully, he learned from his pro experience with is last year and can use that to attack the play more. If he’s shooting, he’s always going to be dangerous.”

The danger of Gardiner 2.0 will be unleashed starting this weekend at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins training camp.

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

WBS NOTEBOOK: SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

Training camp doesn’t officially open until Sunday, but several Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins players and hopefuls (as well as one alumni member) hit the ice at the Toyota Sportsplex for an impromptu practice on Friday morning.

About a dozen skaters took part in the informal session, including Ryan Haggerty, Jarrett Burton, Pat McGrath and Reid Gardiner.

The 28 players on the Penguins training camp roster will report to the rink tomorrow (Saturday) for physicals, before the first official on-ice session takes place on Sunday morning.

As in past years, all practice sessions held at the Toyota Sportsplex are free and open to the public.


Defenseman Ryan Lannon visited town along with his pal, Ted

THE MAYOR IS IN TOWN

Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman (an all around good dude) Ryan Lannon made an appearance at the rink on Friday as well, loosening up his legs with some of the current players.

A solid, stay-at-home defenseman, Lannon spent three seasons (2005-08) suiting up on the Penguins blue line, recording 42 points (5+37) in 217 games with the club.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ eighth round choice in 2002, Lannon has also played in AHL games with the Worcester Sharks, San Antonio Rampage, Houston Aeros and Lake Erie Monsters.  He has also played overseas in Finland and Austria.

Lannon, who attended high school with current Penguins assistant coach J.D. Forrest, won’t be participating in camp with the Pens, but expect some news from the man known as the ‘Mayor of Cape Cod’ in the near future.

 

 


MEANWHILE, IN OHIO…

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue their exhibition slate on Friday night, when they travel to Columbus for a 7:00pm contest.

The Penguins roster for Friday’s battle with the Blue Jackets:

Forwards

11 Jay McClement
17 Bryan Rust
23 Scott Wilson
33 Greg McKegg
34 Tom Kuhnhackl
41 Daniel Sprong
45 Josh Archibald
46 Zach Aston-Reese
47 Adam Johnson
53 Teddy Blueger
54 Thomas Di Pauli
79 Freddie Tiffels
80 Sam Miletic

Defensemen

2 Chad Ruhwedel
3 Olli Maatta
5 Zach Trotman
22 Matt Hunwick
24 Jarred Tinordi
51 Derrick Pouliot
55 Chris Summers

Goalies

1 Casey DeSmith
31 Antti Niemi

Friday night’s game can be heard online at http://bit.ly/1059X


 

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

DECISION TO STAY IN PITTSBURGH A NO-BRAINER FOR RUHWEDEL


by Mike O’Brien

It can be a daunting choice, one to which most everyone can relate.  At some point in life, it comes time to mull over a job offer.  Many hours and some sleepless nights are spent weighing the pros and cons, determining if the next opportunity is the right one.

Hockey players go through a super-charged version of this process come the start of free agency each summer.  Life decisions are crammed into a few hours as players must quickly choose which contract, which organization, which city is the best fit.

Even if defenseman Chad Ruhwedel had a crystal ball at his disposal last summer when he signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he might have had difficulty foreseeing the path the lay ahead.

Ruhwedel had been at this crossroads before.

The San Diego native had an outstanding junior campaign at the UMass-Lowell, helping the Riverhawks to the Frozen Four while being named an All-American.

At the same time, the undrafted defenseman was being pursued aggressively by the Buffalo Sabres, who signed Ruhwedel at the conclusion of the 2012-13 college season.  He hopped right into the Sabres line-up, making his NHL debut on Apr. 13, 2013 in a 1-0 win over Philadelphia as part of a seven-game stint with Buffalo.

The following season, Ruhwedel’s first full campaign as a pro, would provide the blueliner with a highwater mark for games played in the NHL.  He appeared in 21 contests for a rebuilding Buffalo squad, while also splitting time in the American Hockey League with the Rochester Americans.

A restricted free agent in the summer of 2014, Ruhwedel re-signed with the Sabres, but saw his time in NHL diminish to just five games in Buffalo over the next two seasons.

Fast forward to July 1, 2016.  Ruhwedel was at another proverbial fork in the road. Though there were many conversations with his family and agent leading up to the start of free agency, the final decision ended up being a pretty easy one.

“That was pretty hectic the week before free agency.  We narrowed it down to a few contenders,” Ruhwedel stated.  “When Pittsburgh’s name came up, to be honest, it was a no-brainer.”

The 27-year-old joined a Penguins organization that boasted a very deep bench on defense.  He began the season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and immediately slotted into the top pairing for the AHL club.

When injuries befell the blueline corps in Pittsburgh near Christmas time, Ruhwedel was recalled to NHL.  He hit the ice for his first game with Pittsburgh on Dec. 20, and scored his first NHL goal a game later versus the New Jersey Devils.  His steady play endeared Ruhwedel to the coaching staff in a short amount of time.

“The reason Chad stuck is because he earned his spot,” said Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan. “He earned it through his performance and his work habits each and every day.”

Ruhwedel set career highs with 34 NHL games played, two goals, eight assists and 10 points.  Those stats and time spent in Pittsburgh probably would have been enough to justify his choice to join the Penguins, but it only got better from there.

With the defense corps at full health to begin the postseason, Ruhwedel initially found himself a spectator through the opening round series versus Columbus and much the second round against Washington.

But, when Trevor Daley suffered an injury in Game Five against the Capitals, it was Ruhwedel who got that call from Sullivan.

The Penguins closed out the Caps in seven games, and Ruhwedel was also in the line-up through the first four contests of the Eastern Conference Final versus Ottawa – including 21:25 in Game Three.

As Daley returned from his lower-body injury, Ruhwedel was again relegated to the press box, but was on the ice in Nashville to hoist the Stanley Cup with the rest of his teammates.

Suffice to say, Ruhwedel felt good about electing to sign with Pittsburgh.  It is hard to imagine the season unfolding more perfectly as he described the year as one that “exceeded all expectations.”

Still, after the most successful season of his career, Ruhwedel headed into the off-season once again as a free agent and with a choice to make.  Ruhwedel re-signed with the Penguins on July 22, signing a two-year, one-way deal.  From the sound of it, he spent way less time on the decision this time around.

“It was really easy to decide to re-sign.  They wanted me back and I really wanted to be back,” Ruhwedel stated. “It’s just a good mutual relationship and I think it’s a good fit for both of us.”

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