PENGUINS LOSE HEATED BATTLE WITH BRUINS, 3-1

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins dropped a tenacious battle to the Providence Bruins, 3-1, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Saturday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (40-21-6-2) outshot the visitors 35-27, but Jordan Binnington turned in a great performance in net that stymied the Penguins time and time again.

The Bruins got on the board first when Adam Payerl capitalized on the power play at 14:06 in the opening period. Payerl was able to slap a rebound behind Tristan Jarry to put the visitors up, 1-0.

With 3:12 left in the first period, Trent Frederic collected the puck on a failed clear attempt by the Penguins forwards and fired a shot past Jarry for his second pro goal. However, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stormed down the ice on the next shift and reduced the deficit back down to one. Jean-Sébastien Dea gathered a centering pass from Daniel Sprong and picked the corner over Binnington’s glove before the first intermission.

The Penguins and Bruins kept the chances coming in the middle frame, firing 11 and 13 shots respectively, as both goaltenders stayed strong in their crease.

Penguins came close to tying the game midway through the final period when Sprong rushed down the ice and whipped a shot at the opposing net. Garrett Wilson was there to collect the rebound only to be denied by Binnington.

The Bruins cashed in on the power play once again when Jordan Szwarz lifted the puck past Jarry into the left corner of the goal, extending his team’s lead to 3-1 at 8:32 in the third.

Binnington’s brilliance continued as he stood tall to fend off a Sam Lafferty scoring chance moments later. Lafferty collected a big rebound and threw it towards a wide open goal, but the goaltender reached behind his back, smacking the puck away in acrobatic fashion and robbing Lafferty of his first pro goal.

Binnington ended up with 34 saves, while Jarry posted 24 stops in the loss.

The Penguins’ next game is Tuesday, Apr. 3 against the Hershey Bears. Puck drop between the Penguins and Bears is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Individual tickets for the final three home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PREVIEW: PENGUINS vs BRUINS – MARCH 31, 2018


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins welcome a potential first round playoff foe, the Providence Bruins, to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Saturday night.

The Penguins (40-20-6-2, 88 pts, .647%) have regained second place in the Atlantic Division after winning twice in their last two games, while the Bruins (40-23-3-2, 85 pts, .625%) sit just three points behind in the same division, but bring with them a two-game losing streak.

Tonight’s game is the sixth and final regular season meeting between the clubs this season.

TIME: 7:05 p.m.
PLACE: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
WATCHAHLLive.com
LISTENWILK News Radio
TICKETS: 570-208-7367 or at the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office

SEASON SERIES

DATE HOME ROAD TIME/RESULT
Saturday, November 11 WBS Providence 4-3 WIN
Friday, January 19 WBS Providence 1-0 Loss
Friday, February 9 Providence WBS 4-0 Loss
Sunday, February 11 Providence WBS 3-2 WIN
Wednesday, March 28 WBS Providence 5-2 WIN
Saturday, March 31 WBS Providence  7:05pm

RECENT ACTION

The Penguins got a third-period equalizer to force overtime, and Daniel Sprong notched the deciding goal in the extra frame for a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack at XL Center on Friday night. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton received a three-point effort from Christian Thomas (2+1), as well as a regulation goal from Zach Trotman, before Sprong capped it off in overtime. Michael Leighton stopped 30 shots to remain unbeaten (4-0-0) with the Penguins.
The Bruins fell to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Friday night, 2-0, in their final trip of the season to the PPL Center. The P-Bruins were shut out for the fifth time this season while Jordan Binnington made his 24th start of the season in net. Lehigh Valley got goals from Greg Carey and TJ Brennan and Dustin Tokarski stopped all 22 shots he faced. Providence was 0-for-3 on the power play and 3-of-3 on the penalty kill.

 

PENGUINS NOTES
The Penguins achieved 40 wins for the 13th season in a row, a league record.

Daniel Sprong potted the OT winner last night for his team-leading 27th goal of the season. His goal total is the second-highest for a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie all-time, trailing only Michel Ouellet’s 30 goals in 2003-04.

Sprong leads all AHL rookies in goals scored, and is second in points with 54. He is just six points behind Manitoba’s Mason Appleton total of 60, despite playing in 13 fewer games.

Sprong’s 27 goals are tied for seventh among all AHL scorers, and his five game-winning tallies are tied for 11th.

Sprong now has points in eight of his past nine games, totaling six goals and four assists in that span.

BRUINS NOTES
Despite losing to Lehigh Valley last night, a loss by Bridgeport to Springfield on Friday dropped Providence’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot to six.

Austin Czarnik leads the Bruins in every major offensive category and sits in third in the AHL in points

Jordan Binnington has the second best goals against average in the AHL this season with 1.98

Zane McIntyre is tied for first with the most shutouts in the AHL with 6. Two of those have come against the Penguins

CONNECTIONS
Penguins Defenseman Zach Trotman spent parts of four seasons with the Bruins (2011-15) where he played 150 games and netted 56 points (13+43).

Bruins head coach Jay Leach spent the 2015-16 season on the Penguins’ bench, and posted a 2-0-1-0 mark as the team’s interim head coach.

Bruins right winger Adam Payerl spent parts of four seasons in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton playing 130 games and posting 31 points (10+21).

Compiled by Jonathan Kliment

PENGUINS SIGN NICLAS ALMARI TO ATO

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have signed defenseman Niclas Almari to an amateur tryout agreement for the 2017-18 season. Almari returns to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after accepting an ATO and training with the club in April of 2017.

Almari, 19, just completed his second professional season with HPK-Edustusjääkiekko Ry of the Finnish Liiga. In 41 games with HPK this season, Almari notched four goals and four assists for eight points. At times throughout the season, Almari, a native of Espoo, Finland, was loaned to Lempäälän Kisa and Espoo United of the Mestis, Finland’s second professional league. In 13 combined contests in the Mestis, Almari racked up four assists.

At the expiration of the regular season, Almari was assigned by HPK to its junior club for the Jr. A SM-liiga Playoffs. In five postseason games, he scored twice and added an assist for three points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins selected the defenseman in the fifth round (151st overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Following the draft, Almari began his professional career with HPK. Almari completed the 2016-17 campaign with HPK’s junior club for a 10-game stint in the Jr. A SM-liiga playoffs. HPK U20 won the Legacy Bowl that year, and Almari topped all defensemen during the playoffs in assists (10) and points (11).

The Penguins’ next game is today, Saturday, Mar. 31, when they host the Providence Bruins for the second time this week. Puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Individual tickets for the final four home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS EARN 40TH WIN WITH 4-3 VICTORY AT HARTFORD

BOXSCORE

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins got a third-period equalizer to force overtime and got the deciding goal in the extra frame for a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack at XL Center on Friday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (40-20-6-2) received a three-point effort from Christian Thomas, and Daniel Sprong potted the game-winner for his team-leading 27th goal of the season. Furthermore, the Penguins achieved 40 wins for the 13th season in a row, the league’s active record.

Ethan Prow was reinserted into the Penguins’ lineup due to a pregame suspension levied to Andrey Pedan, and made an immediate impact by setting up the game’s first goal. Prow ushered the puck out of the Penguins’ defensive end and then dished it to Christian Thomas, who wired a shot through Alexandar Georgiev’s five-hole 9:16 into the contest.

The Wolf Pack unleashed three-straight goals in the second period to stun the visitors and assume a 3-1 lead. First, Gabriel Fontaine deposited a tap-in on the power play at 1:34 of the middle frame. Less than two minutes later, Dawson Leedahl’s backhander gave Hartford its first lead of the night. Cristoval Nieves delivered a behind-the-back set-up to Scott Kosmachuk for the Wolf Pack’s third goal of the frame at 11:13.

After Wilkes-Barre/Scranton couldn’t get any puck luck on a dominant man advantage, Zach Trotman unloaded a slap shot that snuck behind Georgiev and pulled the Penguins within one goal. Trotman’s tally was assisted by Thomas and Jarred Tinordi with 3:07 left in the second period.

Thomas completed his three-point night and evened the score, 3-3, with a goal at 6:25 of the third period. Tom Sestito stripped a Hartford defenseman of the puck in the Wolf Pack’s zone and fed Thomas on the backdoor for the slam dunk.

Adam Johnson was afforded an opportunity to put the Penguins back on top when he was awarded a penalty shot midway through the third period, but Georgiev slammed the door shut.

The three-on-three overtime was filled with scoring chances for both sides as the two clubs combined for 10 shots on goal. However, the final shot was the only one that mattered, coming from the stick of Sprong with 39.8 seconds left in the extra frame.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Saturday, Mar. 31, when they host the Providence Bruins for the second time this week. Puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Individual tickets for the final four home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PREVIEW: PENGUINS at WOLF PACK – MARCH 30, 2018


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins pay their final visit of the season to the XL Center as they take on the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday. The home team has won four of the previous five matchups this season.

The Penguins (39-20-6-2, 86 pts, .642%) are ranked second the Atlantic Division, while the Wolf Pack (31-30-5-3, 70 pts, .507%) sit in sixth in the same division.

Friday’s game is the sixth and final meeting between the clubs this season.

TIME: 7:05 p.m.
PLACE: XL Center
WATCHAHLLive.com
LISTENWILK News Radio

SEASON SERIES

DATE HOME ROAD TIME/RESULT
Saturday, October 21 WBS Hartford  3-2 SO WIN
Friday, December 15 Hartford WBS  7-3 Loss
Friday, Decmber 29 WBS Hartford  5-1 WIN
Sunday, January 21 Hartford WBS  1-0 OTL
Saturday, March 17 WBS Hartford  1-4 Loss
Friday, March 30 Hartford WBS  7:15pm

RECENT ACTION

The  Penguins used a second period surge to defeat the visiting Providence Bruins, 5-2, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Wednesday night. Daniel Sprong scored his team-leading 25th and 26th goals of the season within the opening minutes of the middle frame to spur Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on to beat their rival, and reclaim second place in the Atlantic Division. Aside from a big night from Sprong, the Penguins’ Joseph Cramarossa, Teddy Blueger, and Jarred Tinordi all contributed to the victory.  Jakub Zbořil and Anton Blidh tallied for the P-Bruins.  Both Tristan Jarry and Zane McIntyre ended up with 27 saves on the night.

The Wolf Pack battled the Springfield Falcons at the XL Center and ended up finding the victory in a shootout by a final score of 4-3 on Wednesday night. Hartford’s Vinni Lettieri, Brandon Crawley, and Adam Tambellini all scored in regulation.  The Wolf Pack won their league-high ninth shootout game, getting just one necessary goal from Scott Kosmachuk in the third round, while the Thunderbirds could not beat Alexandar Georgiev on their attempts.

PENGUINS NOTES
By scoring on Wednesday night, defensemen Jarred Tinordi established a new career high in goals with five this season.

With his goal on Sunday, Pedan upped his point total to  22 (9G-13A) this season, surpassing his previous career-best of 21 points in 2015-16.

Daniel Sprong leads the series with six points (5+1) and, with two goals Wednesday night, moved into a tie for first in the AHL rookie goal scoring race (26).  He is also second among all rookies with 53 points this season.

Garrett Wilson has six points (2+4) in his past five games, and carries a three-game points streak (1+3) in to tonight’s game.

Joseph Cramarossa has 10 points (6+4) in 20 games with the Penguins since being acquired from the Stockton Heat.  He had 10 points (3+7) in 37 games with his former team.

Michael Leighton is 3-0-0-0 in his time with the Penguins with all three wins coming beyond regulation against the Binghamton Devils.

WOLF PACK NOTES
The Wolf Pack have won the last two games between themselves and the Penguins, and are 3-1-0-1 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on the season.  That includes wins in both of the Penguins’ earlier visits to Hartford, 7-3 on December 15 and 1-0 in overtime January 21.

Vinni Lettieri leads the team in goal scoring with 21. He has six more than the next closest Wolf Pack member.

CONNECTIONS
Penguins defenseman Chris Summers spent parts of three seasons (2014-17) with the Wolf Pack, recording 24 points (7+16) in 161 games with the team.

Penguins forward Ryan Haggerty broke into the AHL with Hartford in 2014-15, posting 33 points (15+18) in 76 games with the club.

Compiled by Jonathan Kliment

TOM KOSTOPOULOS NAMED PENGUINS’ MAN OF THE YEAR

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are proud to announce that Tom Kostopoulos has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Northeast Pennsylvania community during the 2017-18 season.

In his 19th season of professional hockey, Kostopoulos remains an active part of the community and an example for younger players on the roster. A fan favorite since his first season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 1999-2000, Kostopoulos prefers to avoid the spotlight when given the chance, but regularly visits local schools and plays a role in organizing an annual appearance at Back Mountain Memorial Library, where he, other players and Penguins mascot TUX read to children. Also, the Penguins captain heads up the team’s holiday gift giving initiative each year, for which players purchase and deliver Christmas gifts to local kids in need.

This is Kostopoulos’ first selection as IOA/American Specialty Man of the Year in his AHL career.

The Penguins captain is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2017-18 Yanick Dupré Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League at a later date.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Friday, Mar. 30, when they travel to Connecticut to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack for the final time this season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Saturday, Mar. 31, and they’ll host the Providence Bruins. Saturday’s puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Individual tickets for the final four home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS SIGN DANE BIRKS TO ATO

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have signed defenseman Dane Birks to an amateur tryout agreement for the 2017-18 season.

Birks, 22, just completed his third season with Michigan Tech University and posted career highs in goals (5), assists (13), points (18) and games played (44). Over the course of his three years of collegiate play, Birks accumulated seven goals and 23 assists for 30 points in 117 games.

Before attending Michigan Tech, Birks competed at the junior-A level in the British Columbia Hockey League for the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Merritt Centennials. The Merritt, British Columbia native totaled nine goals and 32 assists for a total of 41 points across 112 BCHL games. During his time with the Centennials, Birks was named the team’s Rookie of the Year in 2012-13 and Defenseman of the Year in 2013-14.

Birks was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round (164th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Following the draft, Birks won a bronze medal as a member of Team Canada West at the U-19 World Junior A Challenge in November of 2013.

Pittsburgh inked Birks to a two-year, entry-level contract on Mar. 27, which will begin in the 2018-2019 season.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Friday, Mar. 30, when they travel to Connecticut to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack for the final time this season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Saturday, Mar. 31, and they’ll host the Providence Bruins. Saturday’s puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Individual tickets for the final four home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS DEFEAT BRUINS, 5-2, RECLAIM SECOND PLACE IN DIVISION

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins used a second period surge to defeat the visiting Providence Bruins, 5-2, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Wednesday night.

Daniel Sprong scored his team-leading 25th and 26th goals of the season within the opening minutes of the middle frame to spur Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (39-20-6-2) on to beat their rival and reclaim second place in the Atlantic Division.

The Penguins came out with a strong offensive effort in the first period, throwing 14 pucks at the net, but were unable to solve goaltender Zane McIntyre. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton got its greatest scoring chance of the opening frame when Jean-Sébastien Dea was sprung on a shorthanded breakaway, only to be denied by McIntyre.

Shortly after McIntyre stoned Dea on the shorthanded opportunity, the P-Bruins eventually converted on that man advantage with 41.5 seconds left in the first period. Jakub Zbořil released a rocket slap shot that found its way through traffic and into the Penguins’ net to put the visitors on the board first.

The Penguins came roaring back to start the middle frame, using three goals within the first 6:05 of the period to gain a two-goal lead. First, Sprong fooled McIntyre with a spin-o-rama backhander from the left wall as the puck somehow leaked past the Providence goalie’s pad and inside the near post. Less than three minutes later, Garrett Wilson fed Sprong for an opportunity that he ripped through McIntyre’s five-hole.

Sprong’s second goal on the night pulled him into a tie with Charlotte’s Warren Foegele for the league lead in rookie goal scoring (26).

On his first shift back after retreating to the locker room for an injury evaluation, Joseph Cramarossa sniped the glove side of McIntyre and extended the Penguins’ lead to 3-1.

Anton Blidh halted the spread of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s wildfire when he beat Tristan Jarry clean over the glove on the rush, pulling the P-Bruins back within one at 8:54 of the second stanza.

Both teams’ offenses were held in check until midway through the final period. Teddy Blueger pulled off a sensational deke in tight quarters and roofed a shot right under the crossbar for a Penguins insurance maker, putting them up, 4-2.

Jarred Tinordi flipped the puck into the empty net in the game’s closing seconds to round out the scoring at 5-2.

Both Jarry and McIntyre ended up with 27 saves on the night.

The Penguins’ next game is Friday, Mar. 30 when they travel to Connecticut to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack for the final time this season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Saturday, Mar. 31, and they’ll host the Providence Bruins once again. Saturday’s puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Individual tickets for the final four home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PREVIEW: PENGUINS vs BRUINS – MARCH 28, 2018


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins welcome a potential first round playoff foe, the Providence Bruins, to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Wednesday night.

The Penguins (38-20-6-2, 84 pts, .636%) are in third place in the Atlantic Division, while the Bruins (40-21-3-2, 85 pts, .644%) sit just one point ahead in the same division.

Tonight’s game is the fifth of six meetings between the clubs this season.

TIME:         7:05 p.m.
PLACE:      Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
WATCH:   AHLLive.com
LISTEN:    WILK News Radio
TICKETS:  570-208-7367 or at the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office


SEASON SERIES

DATE HOME ROAD TIME/RESULT
Saturday, November 11 WBS Providence 4-3 OT WIN
Friday, January 19 WBS Providence 1-0 Loss
Friday, February 9 Providence WBS 4-0 Loss
Sunday, February 11 Providence WBS 3-2 SOWIN
Wednesday, March 28 WBS Providence  7:05pm
Saturday, March 31 WBS Providence  7:05pm

RECENT ACTION

The Penguins couldn’t muster the same comeback magic they showed earlier in the week as they closed out their three-in-three weekend set with a 6-3 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Sunday afternoon. The Pens fell behind by a 4-0 score early, before Chris Summers netted his first goal of the year. Bridgeport quickly recaptured the four-goal lead, before Jean-Sebastien Dea and Andrey Pedan tallied back-to-back power play goals. But that was as close as the home squad would get, and the Sound Tigers tacked on an empty net goal to complete the scoring. The Penguins finished the game two-for-six on the power play, while their penalty kill unit was put to work 11 times on the afternoon. Tristan Jarry stopped 25 shots for his first regulation loss in the AHL since Oct. 14, 2017.

The Bruins defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday, 6-1, on Saturday night to sweep their two-game homestand against the first-place team in the Atlantic Division. The P-Bruins got two goals each from Peter Cehlarik and Joona Koppanen, along with goals from Colby Cave and Zach Senyshyn, while Jordan Binnington made his 23rd start of the season in net. Lehigh Valley’s Philippe Myers broke up Binnington’s shutout at 6:56 of the third period, but that was all the division leaders could muster as Binnington stopped 18 of 19 shots.


PENGUINS NOTES
When the Penguins lead after two periods they have only lost two times, winning 23 of 25 games.

Daniel Sprong is second among AHL rookies for goals (24) and points (51) this season. He is the fifth Penguins rookie to record 50-plus points in a season (Toby Petersen – 67 in 2000-01; Tom Kostopoulos – 58 in 1999-00; Matt Murlye – 58 in 2002-03; Rob Schremp – 53 in 2006-07).

Tom Kostopoulos’ next game will be his 650th with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


BRUINS NOTES
Jordan Szwarz and Tommy Cross lead the Bruins with three points in the season series

Austin Czarnik leads the Bruins in every major offensive category, with 21 goals, 40 assists, 61 points and 11 power play goals.

Jordan Binnington has the third best goals against average in the AHL this season with 1.97

Zane McIntyre is tied for first with the most shutouts in the AHL with six. Two of those have come against the Penguins.


CONNECTIONS
Penguins Defenseman Zach Trotman spent parts of four seasons with the Bruins (2011-15) where he played 150 games and netted 56 points (13+43).

Bruins head coach Jay Leach spent the 2015-16 season on the Penguins’ bench, and posted a 2-0-1-0 mark as the team’s interim head coach.

Bruins right winger Adam Payerl spent parts of four seasons in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton playing 130 games and posting 31 points (10+21).

compiled by Jonathan Kliment

PITTSBURGH SIGNS DANE BIRKS


The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenseman Dane Birks to a two-year, entry-level contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Birks’ deal will begin with the 2018-19 campaign. He will report to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this week on an amateur tryout contract.

Birks, 22, has played the past three seasons collegiately at Michigan Tech, improving his offensive totals in all three of his seasons. This year, Birks had five goals, 13 assists, 18 points and a plus-10 in 44 games.

A 6-foot-2, 200-pound native of Merritt, British Columbia, Birks wrapped up his career at Michigan Tech with seven goals, 23 assists and 30 points with a plus-27 in 117 contests.

Originally the Pens’ sixth round (164th overall) pick in 2013, the righthanded-shooting Birks spent two-plus seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) before attending school. Birks split his time in the BCHL between the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Merritt Centennials, logging the majority of his action with his hometown club. In 112 career BCHL games, Birks amassed 41 points (9G-32A). He was Merritt’s Rookie of the Year in 2012-13, and its Defenseman of the Year in 2013-14.

Birks represented Canada West at the 2013 World Junior-A Challenge, helping his squad capture the bronze medal.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Wednesday Mar. 28, when they host the Providence Bruins. Puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Individual tickets for the final five home games of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 19th season of hockey are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.