PENGUINS SUFFER 3-2 OVERTIME LOSS AT BRIDGEPORT

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BOXSCORE

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins battled back from a third period deficit to force overtime against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday night, but fell 3-2 in extra time at Webster Bank Arena.

The Penguins (12-4-2-0) threw 35 shots at the Sound Tigers’ rookie goaltender and scored a late-game tying goal, but Bridgeport ultimately prevailed and maintained its perfect 5-0 record this season in games that go beyond regulation.

It took exactly one minute for Bridgeport to earn the game’s first goal. Steve Bernier converted on a two-on-one rush for his third goal in two games.

Early in the second period, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went to its second power play of the game and sent a flurry of offense at rookie goaltender Eamon McAdam, but never found a tying goal. The Penguins’ top man advantage unit spent the entire two minute minor assessed to Connor Jones in the Sound Tigers’ zone, ended up with several grade-A scoring chances, two shots on goal and another one that Dominik Simon rang off the post.

The Penguins’ efforts on the power play did not yield any results, but shortly thereafter, Simon slid a puck over to a streaking Jarrett Burton who threw it into the back of the Sound Tigers’ net for a tying goal. Burton’s first goal of the season came at 8:06 of the middle frame.

Two minutes and 51 seconds later, Bridgeport climbed back up, 2-1, with another odd man rush. This time, Ross Johnston finished the job.

As time ticked down in the third period, Josh Archibald snuck a shot through McAdam from a sharp angle and tied the game at two goals apiece with just 3:24 remaining in regulation.

The game went to three-on-three, sudden death overtime during which both teams exchanged glorious chances. At 3:55 of the extra frame, a collision in the crease between the Penguins’ Danny Kristo and the Sound Tigers’ Connor Jones created enough havoc around Casey DeSmith for a shot from Bernier to clip off of Jones and sneak across the goal line. After a review, the goal stood, and Jones had netted the game-winner for Bridgeport.

DeSmith ended the game having made 23 saves on 26 shots faced, while McAdam recorded 33 stops in the win. It was DeSmith’s first loss of the season, dropping his personal record to 5-0-1.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 26, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Once again, their opponent is the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Individual game tickets for tomorrow night’s game and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 2016-17 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.

PITTSBURGH ASSIGNS POULIOT TO WBS

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have assigned defenseman Derrick Pouliot to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Pouliot, who was injured in his only NHL appearance of the season on Oct. 20 versus San Jose, will play three games for WBS this weekend, then he will be re-evaluated by the Penguins’ team doctors when he returns.

The Penguins’ next game is Wednesday, Nov. 23, when they travel to Giant Center to take on the Hershey Bears. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Saturday, Nov. 26, against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Individual game tickets for next Saturday night’s game and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 2016-17 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.

PENGUINS WEEKLY – 11/22/16

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Big wins against Bridgeport, Hershey keep Penguins atop Atlantic Division

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (12-3-1-0) set to face-off with Bears and Sound Tigers again

 

Weekly Rewind

Wednesday, Nov. 16 – PENGUINS 1 at Lehigh Valley 4

The Penguins fell to their Keystone rivals in their first meeting this season. It was just Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s third regulation loss of the season. Thomas Di Pauli scored the lone goal for the Pens, the first of his professional career.

Friday, Nov.18 – PENGUINS 4 vs. Bridgeport 3

The Penguins bounced back from their previous loss with a hard-earned victory over the Sound Tigers in which they scored three of their four goals in the second period. Casey DeSmith made 25 saves in net, improving his record to 5-0-0.

Saturday, Nov. 19 – PENGUINS 4 at Hershey 3

In their second game at the Giant Center, the Penguins came back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period and ended up with a win in overtime. Tom Kostopoulos tied the game, 3-3, with 1:04 left in regulation, and Carter Rowney sealed the win 2:01 into OT. Jake Guentzel had three points (1G-2A), and both Oskar Sundqvist and Cameron Gaunce had two assists.

 

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 23 – PENGUINS at Hershey

The Penguins take on the Bears for the third time this season and second time in five days. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was the overtime victor in the two squads’ previous two match-ups.

Friday, Nov. 25 – PENGUINS at Bridgeport

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton plays the Sound Tigers for the third time in two weeks.  The Penguins were dominant in their last meeting in Bridgeport, winning 7-1.

Saturday, Nov. 26 – PENGUINS vs. Bridgeport

The Pens take on Bridgeport in the second game of a home-and-home. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defeated Bridgeport, 4-3, the last time the Sound Tigers visited Mohegan Sun Arena.

 

Ice Chips

– On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired right wing Danny Kristo from St. Louis in exchange for defenseman Reid McNeill. The three-time 20-goal scorer has reported directly to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

– The Penguins have the best goal differential in the AHL (+23) and allow the fewest goals per game (1.88).

– Cameron Gaunce leads all AHL defensemen with a +13 rating.

– Rookie Casey DeSmith’s .949 save percentage and 1.40 goals against average rank first among all AHL goaltenders.

–  Carter Rowney has scored four of the Penguins’ past seven  regular season overtime game-winning goals. Including playoffs, Rowney has the game-winner in five of the Pens’ past 10 overtime victories.

 

DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM                       GP       W         L        OTL     SOL     PTS         Pt%

1. PENGUINS          16        12         3           1           0         25          .781

2. Lehigh Valley       15        10         4          1          0          21          .700

3. Bridgeport            15        10         5          0          0         20        .667

4. Hersey                   16         8          4          3          1         20        .625

5. Springfield            16         7          5          2          2         18         .563

6. Providence           16         5          6          3          2         15        .469

7. Hartford                16         5          9          2          0         12        .375

 

TEAM LEADERS

SKATERS                    GP        G         A        PTS

Jake Guentzel*^          16         7         10        17

Oskar Sundqvist         15         6          8         14

Carter Rowney            16         5          8         13

Tom Kostopoulos       16         6          5         11

Garrett Wilson            16         3          7         10

 

GOALIES                 GP     W-L-OT      GAA        Sv%    Shutouts

Casey DeSmith*      5        5-0-0        1.40       0.949          0

Tristan Jarry              11        7-3-1          1.98        0.929          0

 

* = rookie

^ = currently with Pittsburgh

 

UPCOMING GAME SCHEDULE

DATE                  OPPONENT       LOCATION                         TIME      

Wed, Nov. 23    Hershey               Giant Center                       7:00 p.m.

Fri, Nov. 25        Bridgeport           Webster Bank Arena         7:00 p.m.

Sat, Nov. 26      Bridgeport           Mohegan Sun Arena          7:05 p.m.

 

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Mon, Nov. 21    DEL      (C) Jake Guentzel                   Recalled by PIT

Sat, Nov. 19     ADD      (RW) Danny Kristo              Loaned from PIT

Sat, Nov. 19     DEL       (D) Reid McNeill                   Recalled by PIT

PENS’ TOP LINE ROARS TO LIFE AGAINST SOUND TIGERS IN 4-3 WIN

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BOXSCORE

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins got back to their winning ways on Friday night, as a big-time performance by the team’s top line lifted the Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

The win improves the Penguins’ record to 11-3-1-0 on the season, maintaining their lead atop the Atlantic Division with 23 points. A big reason why Wilkes-Barre/Scranton still stands tall in first place in the division is the showing by the Penguins’ top line of Garrett Wilson, Carter Rowney and Tom Kostopoulos. Wilson (0G-2A) and Rowney (1G-1A) both had two-point nights while Kostopoulos potted the game-winning goal.

After a scoreless first period, Oskar Sundqvist broke the deadlock at the 9:20 mark of the middle frame when he received a pass from Ethan Prow and fired a wrist shot that beat Sound Tigers’ goaltender Stephon Williams to his glove side.

Just over a minute later, Carter Rowney collected the rebound from his own shot and took advantage of Williams’ precarious positioning, rocketing a wrist shot top shelf for a 2-0 Penguins lead. Lukas Bengtsson recorded his first AHL point with an assist on the mid-second period marker.

Similarly to Rowney’s tally, Bracken Kearns collected his own rebound that sat loose in front of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s crease and fired the puck past an outstretched Casey DeSmith at 13:02 of the second period. Kearns’ team-leading sixth goal and 13th point of the season brought the score to 2-1.

At 15:12 of the second, Jake Guentzel took advantage of a turnover in the offensive zone and fired the puck from the corner and into the slot. The feed found Jean-Sébastien Dea who tipped it in, increasing the Penguins’ lead to 3-1.

Andrew Rowe closed out the scoring in the second when he capitalized on a scrum in front of DeSmith with only 27 seconds remaining period to cut the score down to 3-2.

At 4:34 of the third period, Williams was forced into a collision with one of his defensemen behind the Bridgeport net which allowed Kostopoulos to tap the puck into the empty net for his fifth goal of the season. Though the goal was strange, it gave the Penguins breathing room in the third with a 4-2 lead.

The Sound Tigers fought hard to claw their way back late in the third as Joshua Winquist converted a chance at the doorstep at 14:55 of the period. However, Bridgeport couldn’t find an equalizer and the game concluded, 4-3.

DeSmith finished with 25 saves on 28 shots, adding to his perfect record which now stands at 5-0-0. Williams saved 24 of 28 shots faced and falls to 2-5-0 on the season. The Penguins were unsuccessful on three power plays, but were also never forced to the penalty kill at any point during the game.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 19, when they travel to Giant Center to take on the Hershey Bears. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Saturday, Nov. 26, and once again its opponent will be the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Individual game tickets for next Saturday night’s game and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 2016-17 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.

THANKS 4 GIVING DEAL IS BACK

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For the sixth straight season, the Penguins are teaming up with Rocky and Lissa from 98.5 KRZ to help shut out hunger in Northeast PA through the Thanks 4 Giving deal.

Rocky and Lissa, as well as their crew of listener volunteers, will be helping to prep Thanksgiving dinner at the St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen next week.  The yearly effort helps provide free holiday meals to literally hundreds of less fortunate folks in Wilkes-Barre and throughout the area.

But the fight against hunger doesn’t end at the holidays.  The kitchen provides meals seven days a week all year long, and that requires food and funds in addition to volunteers.

And that’s where you can help out, while enjoying some Penguins hockey.

Purchase a Thanks 4 Giving package, which includes a ticket to our home game on Saturday, November 26 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and a Penguins hat, and we’ll donate $4 to the soup kitchen.

Packages start at just $17 and are available exclusively through the Penguins front offices at the Toyota SportsPlex, or by giving us a call at 570-208-7367.

For more info on how you can help out the hungry this holiday season and year round, give the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen a call at 570-829-7796.

Thanks for your help, and Let’s Go Pens!

GOALS JUST PART OF GARDINER’S GAME

Scoring goals was Reid Gardiner’s forte during his time with the Prince Albert Raiders.  The Humboldt, Saskatchewan native potted 106 of them during his four seasons with the junior club, including 43 last year, good for fourth overall in the Western Hockey League.

And after going scoreless in his first six games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Gardiner is starting to show that scorer’s touch in the American Hockey League as well.

The 20-year old right wing picked up his first pro tally – the game-winning goal – in the Penguins 7-1 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on November 5.  And his more experienced teammates made sure to let their young compatriot know they were award of his first tally.

“It was pretty cool,” Gardiner said of his first goal.  “Guys were giving me a hard time on the bench, so it was good.  I got lots of texts from my family and friends.  It’s something I won’t forget for a long time.”

Since that time, Gardiner has suited up in three more games for the Penguins, and put home two more goals.  But even when he’s not scoring goals, Gardiner knows there are other ways he can contribute to the team’s success.

“You want to play as much as you can and contribute in any way possible, he said.  “I think the key for me is when I’m not scoring to be productive in other ways, which is making good passes or making good plays in the D zone.

“Where the team needs me to play, hopefully I can then fill that role and fill it well.”

PREVIEW: Sound Tigers vs Penguins – November 18, 2016

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins return home to host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday night, November 18. This is the second meeting between the club’s this season, after the Penguins picked up a 7-1 win in Connecticut on November 5. The two clubs will square off in a home-and-home series to close out November, facing off in Bridgeport on Friday, November 25, and returning to northeast Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 26.

DATE:  Friday, November 18, 2016
TIME:  7:05pm
PLACE:  Mohegan Sun Arena
WATCH:  AHLLive.com
LISTEN:  WILK News Radio (103.1) | bit.ly/WBSWILK
GIVEAWAY:  December Schedule Magnet Featuring Jake Guentzel
POSTGAME AUTOGRAPHS:  Tristan Jarry and Reid Gardiner (approximately 15 minutes after the game ends)

ABOUT THE OPPONENT

RECORD 8-4-0-0 (16 pts) | Third in Atlantic Division

TEAM LEADERS

GOALS  Bracken Kearns & Michael Dal Colle 7
ASSISTS  Bracken Keanrs 7
POINTS  Bracken Kearns 12
PIM  Kyle Burroughs 34
WINS  Christopher Gibson 6
GAA  Christopher Gibson 2.52

WHO’S HOT:  Goaltender Christopher Gibson is a perfect 6-0-0 in seven games played this season. After winning his first six contests to start the season, Gibson made a relief appearance against the Penguins on November 5, allowing two goals in the final period of a 7-1 loss. He missed last weekend’s action due to injury, but could make an appearance this weekend as the Sound Tigers play a three-in-three starting Friday night.

NEWS AND NOTES:The Sound Tigers are perfect when a game goes past regulation, winning once in overtime this season (Nov. 4, 5-4 at Hartford) before winning back-to-back road shootouts this past weekend against Syracuse (3-2) and Hershey (4-3)…The Sound Tigers have the best road record in the league at 5-1-0-0 (10 pts, .833 win percentage)

ABOUT THE PENGUINS

RECORD  10-3-1-0 (21 pts) | First in Atlantic Division

TEAM LEADERS

GOALS  Jake Guentzel  6
ASSISTS  Jake Guentzel & Carter Rowney  7
POINTS  Jake Guentzel  13
PIM  Patrick McGrath  37
WINS  Tristan Jarry  6
GAA  Casey DeSmith  1.00

WHO’S HOT:  Oskar Sundqvist has four points (1+3) in his past three games, and has points in seven of the past eight Penguins contests (4+5=9). His five goals through 14 games this season already equals his total in 41 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last year.

NEWS AND NOTES:  Thomas DiPauli recorded his first professional goal in the Penguins 4-1 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday night…The Penguins are undefeated (3-0) in games following a loss this season…Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has allowed a league-low 24 goals through 14 games this season…Casey DeSmith continues to lead the AHL in goals against average (1.00) and save percentage (.963)…Tristan Jarry is fifth in the league with a 1.88 goals against average, and sixth with a .932 save percentage…Jake Guentzel is tied for first among rookies with six goals and second with 13 points…The Penguins continue to lead the league with a 91.1% penalty kill rate (5 goals in 56 times shorthanded)

Individual game tickets for Friday night’s game, and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 2016-17 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.

PHANTOMS vs PENGUINS – November 16, 2016

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday afternoon not only gave the team back-to-back wins on the weekend, it also gave the Pens the distinction of being the first team in the AHL to hit double-digit wins on the season.  

That came as a bit of a surprise to head coach Clark Donatelli.

“I didn’t realize that, but it feels good,” Donatelli said after practice at the Toyota SportsPlex on Tuesday.  “The guys are playing hard, and it’s good to get a good practice in here.  We’re just taking it game-by-game, period-by-period.  We just try to get better every day.”

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is off to a 10-2-1-0 mark, good for 21 points an the top winning percentage (.808) in the league.

“It’s early.  We’re not 15 games into it,” Donatelli stated.  “But we’re off to a good start and we’re going to hopefully continue to do the same things.”

The Penguins are in the middle of a stretch that sees the team play six games in just nine games, including a Wednesday night matchup with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown.  The Flyers’ affiliate enters this week’s action riding a six-game winning streak which has them just four points behind the Penguins in the Atlantic Division standings.

“We’re going to have to be ready right off the bat,” Donatelli said. “I think that they’re going to come at us really quick.  We’re going to be on the road, and we’re going to have to have a good start.”


DATE:  Wednesday, November 16, 2016
TIME:  7:05pm
PLACE:  PPL Center
WATCH:  AHLLive.com
LISTEN:  WILK News Radio (103.1) | bit.ly/WBSWILK

ABOUT THE OPPONENT

RECORD 8-3-1-0 (17 pts) | Second in Atlantic Division

TEAM LEADERS

GOALS  Greg Carey & Colin McDonald 7
ASSISTS  Jordan Weal 11
POINTS  Jordan Weal 15
PIM  Danick Martel 25
WINS  Anthony Stolarz 6
GAA  Anthony Stolarz 2.39

WHO’S HOT:  Former Penguins forward Colin McDonald had a three-game goal streak (Nov. 5-12) snapped Sunday in Hershey, but is still tied for the Phantoms lead with seven tallies in just 12 games.

NEWS AND NOTES:Jordan Weal is tied for fifth in the AHL with 15 points (4+11)…T.J. Brennan is tied for second among AHL defensemen with 12 points (3+9)…Greg Carey leads all AHL skaters with six power play goals…The Phantoms are third in the Eastern Conference and fifth in the league with a 25.05 power play percentage (15 for 60)…

ABOUT THE PENGUINS

RECORD  10-2-1-0 (21 pts) | First in Atlantic Division

TEAM LEADERS

GOALS  Jake Guentzel  6
ASSISTS  Jake Guentzel & Carter Rowney  7
POINTS  Jake Guentzel  13
PIM  Patrick McGrath  37
WINS  Tristan Jarry  6
GAA  Casey DeSmith  1.00

WHO’S HOT:  Rookie forward Reid Gardiner has three goals in his past four games. He netted his first professional goal in a 7-1 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on November 5. It turned out to be the game-winning goal.

NEWS AND NOTES:  The Penguins have allowed just one goal in nine of their 13 games so far this season…Goaltender Casey DeSmith leads the AHL in both goals against average (1.00) and save percentage (.963)…Tristan Jarry isn’t far behind DeSmith in either category, ranking fifth in goals against average (1.76) and third in save percentage (.935)…A pair of Penguins rookies made their AHL and North American pro debuts last weekend. Center Thomas DiPauli suited up for the first time on November 11 against the Toronto Marlies, and also played in the Penguins win in Hartford on Sunday. DiPauli was signed as a free agent our of Notre Dame this past summer….Defenseman Lukas Bengtsson made his debut on Sunday in Hartford, going scoreless in the win. He spent last season with Frolunda in Sweden, winning the league championship before signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent…The Penguins remain the top penalty killing team in the league with a 90.6% success rate (48 of 53).

The Penguins return home on Friday night to host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 7:05pm.  Tickets for Friday night’s game are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 22-game12-game, and 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling 570-208-7367.

 

GUENTZEL’S FOUR POINTS POWER PENS PAST BRIDGEPORT, 7-1

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BOXSCORE

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were catapulted to a huge victory on Saturday night against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers thanks to an explosive first period and four-point performance by rookie Jake Guentzel.

The Penguins (7-1-1-0, first in the Atlantic Division) erupted for four goals in the first period alone, their highest total in one period so far in 2016-17, lifting them to a 7-1 rout of the Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena.

Just 1:02 into the game, Tom Kostopoulos forced a turnover and fed Guentzel in front of the Sound Tigers’ net for the first goal of the contest.

Reid Gardiner scooped up a rebound at 4:40 of the first period and popped it into the top corner for a 2-0 Penguins lead. Gardiner’s tally was also his first professional goal.

Bridgeport responded with Devon Toews burying a rebound goal of his own, cutting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lead in half at 7:51 of the opening frame.

Guentzel returned the favor to Kostopoulos by setting the captain up for a one-timer that whizzed past Sound Tigers goalie Stephon Williams at 7:51, making it 3-1.

Before the first period ended, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton added yet another goal on its first power play of the game and took a 4-1 advantage into the first intermission. Carter Rowney ripped a shot through traffic and beat Williams with 58.2 seconds left in the period for the Penguins’ fourth marker of the game.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton wasted no time adding to its lead, with Guentzel batting in a high-rising shot 1:50 into the second period. Guentzel’s second goal of the game also granted him his second four-point performance this season.

Garrett Wilson converted on a penalty shot at 11:49 of the middle frame, making it 6-1 in favor of the Penguins.

Another power play goal for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came from Steve Oleksy 1:17 into the third and final period of regulation, giving the Penguins a season-high seven goals.

Casey DeSmith finished the game having made 28 saves. Williams, who tended goal for Bridgeport in the first and third periods, recorded 14 stops on 19 shots faced. Christopher Gibson stepped in to tend the Sound Tigers’ crease for the second period and denied the Penguins on nine of 11 shots.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 5, against the Providence Bruins at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.

The Penguins’ next home game is Friday, Nov. 11, when they take on the Toronto Marlies at home for the only time this season.

Individual tickets for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton home games can be purchased at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, through Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Season ticket packages for the 2016-17 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.

PENGUINS PRACTICE REPORT – NOVEMBER 2, 2016

Three weeks and seven games into the 2016-17 American Hockey League season, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have allowed a measly nine goals against – the lowest total in the 30 team league.  They’ve allowed just one goal in five of those seven contests, and have only allowed two goals in regulation once so far – that coming in a 6-2 opening night victory against the Hartford WolfPack.

It’s an historic start for a club that has become well known for stout displays of defense over the past decade.

But head coach Clark Donatelli isn’t necessarily figuring that the fantastically low GAA will hold up all season.

“It’s early.  Right now we’re playing well.  Our guys are paying attention to details,” he said following a nearly two hour practice on Wednesday at the Toyota SportsPlex.  “The D corps are playing very well, we’re getting good goaltending.  But I think overall it’s solid team defense.  Our forwards are coming back.  We work really hard at it in practice, and we pride ourselves in playing good defense.”

The Penguins are the only team to allow than 10 goals so far this season.  The San Jose Barracuda are close behind with just 11 against, but have played only four games to far.  The next closest teams after San Jose (Springfield, Tucson and Bakersfield) have allowed 15 tallies each to date.

And while the Pens have been less than generous in allowing goals, the work they’ve done in their own end is leading to tallies of their own.

“We try to create offense from all three zones,” said Donatelli.  “Guys are working really hard.  They’re blocking shots and winning one-on-one battles.  So so far so good.”

Kevin Porter provided a pair of prime examples of how defensive play can lead to offense when the Pens took on the Syracuse Crunch on October 22.  The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward tallied a pair of shorthanded goals in the 3-1 victory, becoming the first Penguin in nearly a decade to accomplish the feat.

The first goal came after Josh Archibald chipped a puck off of a Syracuse defender and fed Porter, who broke in alone on Crunch net minder Adam Wilcox.  The second goal saw Porter pressing the play at the Syracuse blue line, taking advantage of a defender’s miscue and sniping his second of the night.

“If you play good defense, it translates into the offense,” Porter stated.  “They’re going to have breakdowns offensively, then we chip it out and we go.  We have a good transition game.  Forwards are back-checking, D are standing up and making good plays.”

The Penguins will look to keep their opponents at bay again this weekend, when they play three games in three days.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hosts the Binghamton Senators on Friday night at 7:05pm, before hitting the road for contests against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Saturday night) and Providence Bruins (Sunday afternoon).

Tickets for Friday night’s home contest are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling the Penguins at 570-208-7367.