OBIE’S OBSERVATIONS – PITTSBURGH TRAINING CAMP

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins broadcaster Mike O’Brien is in Western Pennsylvania for Pittsburgh Penguins training camp, and checked in with some of his thoughts from Monday’s practice and tournament game.

Practice

Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

•  During the first three days of practice at training camp, the Penguins have split into three teams for a round robin tournament.  Team 3 was not able to make it to the championship game as they were on ice early today for practice.  Their roster read like a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Who’s Who from the 2014-15 season with the likes of Josh Archibald, Matt Murray, Carter Rowney, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson out there.  Seems like forever, but it is less than two years ago that those players were helping Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to one of its best starts in team history.

•  It is always fun to see when players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton graduate to full-time residence in Pittsburgh, and obviously it has happened plenty of times over the last 18 years.  Still, it was special to see Carter Rowney skating during training camp today.  Such a good guy off the ice and a hard worker on it.  His trek from the ECHL to the NHL has been written about at length, as were his contributions during the Penguins’ most-recent Stanley Cup run.  Though Rowney has been a participant at Pittsburgh’s training camp before, it’s different this year.  His spot in the NHL this season is deserved and seemingly secure.  It has been a long, hard road for Rowney and it’s not hard to appreciate him officially reaching this point of his journey.

•  Recent Wilkes-Barre/Scranton signee Christian Thomas was also a part of Team 3’s practice.  A couple of times, he flashed the shot that helped him score 24 goals in Hershey last season.  Thomas also showed good ability distributing the puck.  His no-look pass to Garrett Wilson created a good chance in close and he set-up teams on a couple of 2-on-1s. Thomas was signed to bring another scoring element to the Penguins, but it appears he can be a playmaker as well.

Training Camp Championship Game

They won’t be throwing any parades for the winner of this one, but it was a spirited match-up between Team 1 led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin’s Team 2.  Team 1 used two goals in the “second half” of the scrimmage to pull away for the 4-2 win and take home the training camp crown.  Here are a few players that stood out:

•  Gage Quinney – The second-year pro was the MVP early on in the championship game, scoring both of Team’s 1 goals in the first half.  His first came off a quick shot that banged off the post and into the net.  Quinney’s second goal showed good patience, taking a pass from Ryan Reaves and waiting out Antti Niemi before tucking the puck past the skate of the downed goaltender.

•  Casey DeSmith – This isn’t DeSmith’s first training camp in Pittsburgh, but it is his first with an NHL contract.  The 26-year-old looked the part on Monday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.  Taking over net for the second half of the scrimmage and with the score knotted, 2-2, DeSmith pitched a shutout as Team 1 broke the tie and eventually skated to victory.  The netminder was reading the play well and kept his form whenever there was chaos or traffic around his net.  His prettiest save came with the glove, when he robbed Ian Cole on a bang-bang one-timer from the hashmarks.  DeSmith’s most impressive stop came moments before, getting a shoulder a Phil Kessel’s mid-air rebound opportunity on the left post.

•  Dominik Simon – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans remember Simon’s deadly shot that netted 25 goals during his rookie season in 2015-16.  At times last season, that skill took a backseat as he worked to develop other aspects of his game.  Skating on a line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, Simon’s quick release and accuracy were on display once again.  Stationed on the left circle, Simon took a centering feed from Crosby and sniped a wrist shot to the top of the net that turned out to be the game-winner.  With the depth at wing in Pittsburgh, earning a spot with out of camp might prove difficult.  But if Simon continues to light the lamp during the preseason, he could put himself in line to be one of the first call-ups for Jim Rutherford and Mike Sullivan.

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

A YEAR IN THE LIFE : CARTER ROWNEY


BY ALYSSA HERTEL

The year is just slightly more than half way over, but it’s safe to say that nobody is having a better 2017 than Carter Rowney.

In the span of five months, Rowney appeared in his first NHL game, netted his first NHL goal, saw the birth of his first child, and lifted the Stanley Cup.

But Rowney is no overnight sensation.

An undrafted free agent out of the University of North Dakota, Rowney broke into the pro ranks on a professional tryout contract with the Abbotsford Heat following his 2012-13 senior season.    After splitting the next two seasons between the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Rowney finally found firm footing with the AHL Pens in 2015-16.

And how did he respond? Simply by leading the team in regular season scoring (56 points), finishing second on the club in goals (24), third in assists (32) en route to being named Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s MVP for the year.

That performance also put the Grand Prairie, Alb., native firmly in Pittsburgh’s picture, as the NHL club signed him to a two-year deal in March of that season.

Less than five months after signing his first NHL contract, Rowney married longtime girlfriend, Danielle, in August of 2016. He began the 2016-17 season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but was promoted to Pittsburgh in late January.

He played his first NHL game on Jan. 31 against Nashville. At the time, that one game after grinding his way up from the ECHL as an undrafted free agent out of college seemed like the  fairy tale ending.

But Rowney’s remarkable story continued as he recorded his first NHL point on February 4, and netted his first goal a little over a month later on March 17.

With each game, Rowney continued to carve out a niche for himself. Despite not being a big goal-scorer, his reliable physical player and penalty killing prowess earned praise and, by the time the playoffs rolled around, he was a staple of the Penguins formidable attack.

“That’s something I take pride in,” said Rowney. “Find a role that I could be on the team, accept that role and try to do my best in that role.”

That he did, and his best performances came during the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators, an exciting time both on and off the ice for Rowney.

Between Games One and Two in Pittsburgh, his first child, a son named Anders, was born. With the due date actually being later that week, when Rowney would’ve been playing Games Three and Four in Canada’s capital, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Following Anders’ arrival, Rowney played some of his best playoff hockey. In Game Four, his ice time was more than any forward, aside from captain Sidney Crosby, and even then he was only 21 seconds short. But it was Game Five where he really showcased what he was capable of. Rowney notched three assists and a plus-four rating, besting superstars like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel to earn the number one star of the game.

After years of shuffling through minor league contracts to get his foot in the door of pro hockey, Rowney’s season of firsts culminated in hockey’s ultimate prize, with the Penguins standing triumphant, the Stanley Cup hoisted over their heads.

“Every time I would suit up in that Penguins uniform and get on the bench, I would just take a second and look in the crowd and realize where I was,” said Rowney, reflecting on his first NHL playoff experience. “It was just a fun time to play. And to cap it all off, to lift Lord Stanley, that was just unbelievable.”

In just half a season, Rowney became an inexpensive, but crucial part of the team. There’s even talk that he could be the perfect long-term replacement for Matt Cullen, should the wily veteran decide to retire. With his average of 15 minutes of ice time per game and his 21 draws at center being the most of the team behind the four regular centers, Rowney has certainly proved his worth. If the comparison bothers Cullen, he hasn’t shown it.

“It’s easy to get behind a kid like that who’s had to work for everything he’s earned,” said Cullen, following the Penguins shut out of the Senators in game five.

For now, at least, Carter Rowney can focus on his new, growing family as he’s had to delegate most daddy duties to his wife for nearly a month while helping the Penguins win their second Stanley Cup in as many years. He’ll spend the time off trying to figure out, much like everyone else, how the undrafted kid from the prairies now has his name etched alongside the greats.

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

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

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.

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

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

WBS GRADS HAVING IMPACTS ON PITTSBURGH POSTSEASON

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue their quest for back-to-back Stanley Cups this Saturday night, when they host the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals.  And like last year, the Pens progress has been led by players with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pedigrees.

Lets start at the top – as in the top goal scorer.  Jake Guentzel, who began the season in NEPA, has rattled off an NHL-best nine goals in his first 12 playoff games.  Included in his performance was a postseason hat trick in Game Three against the Columbus Blue Jackets and a total of three game-winning goals.  One of those was the OT winner to cap the hat trick agains Columbus.

Guentzel has posted 14 points so far, which is good for fourth in NHL.  His most recent point –  an assist on Bryan Rust’s goal in Game Seven against the Washington Capitals – broke Pittsburgh’s record for rookie scoring in a postseason.  That mark was formerly held by Jaromir Jagr, who needed 24 games to hit that mark in 1991.

Speaking of Rust, he continues to show clutch play in the biggest games.  Rust recorded both goals in a 2-1, Game Seven win against the Tampa Bay Lightning last season to get the Pens to the Stanley Cup Finals, and followed that up by notching the series clinching against the Caps earlier this week.

Rust has five goals in 12 games this postseason, including a pair of game-winners. Three of his 11 career playoff goals have been GWGs.

On the other end of the rink, Marc-Andre Fleury has been the saving grace, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.55 goals against average and .927 save percentage.  He turned aside 29 shots in the finale against Washington, giving him nine shutouts in his Pittsburgh playoff career.

The two-time Stanley Cup winner is Pittsburgh’s all-time playoff leader among goalies in games (112), starts (110) and wins (61).

Six other skaters who saw regular play with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton have also suited up in the 2017 playoffs for Pittsburgh, including Conor Shear (11gp, 0-3-3), Tom Kuhnhackl (11gm, 1-1-2), Scott Wilson (8gp, 1-1-2), Brian Dumoulin (12gp, 0-2-2), Carter Rowney (7gp, 0-0-0) and Chad Ruhwedel (2gp, 0-0-0).  Both Rowney and Ruhwedel spent time in NEPA this season, and made their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts this year.

Pittsburgh and Ottawa will face off at PPG Arena on Saturday at 7:00pm and Monday at 8:00pm.  The series moves to Ottawa for Games Three (Wednesday) and Four (Friday).  Both of those contests are scheduled for 8:00pm starts.


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

PENGUINS MYSTERY JERSEY BAGS ARE BACK

Our Mystery Jersey sale benefits the Penguins GOALS Foundation

Fans will have the chance to get their hands on some very unique Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins jerseys when the Penguins GOALS Foundation hosts its second annual MYSTERY JERSEY SALE this Saturday, April 15, during the team’s regular season finale.

We’ve grabbed 90 classic, authentic Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins jerseys (five different designs – not game-worn) and had them customized with some of your favorite Pens’ players numbers and names.  Then we had 75 of them signed by the players, packed all 90 in Penguins duffle bags, and stuffed those bags to the gills with goodies including hats, tee-shirts, pucks, cards and more!

The 75 signed jerseys – which include sweaters featuring Tom Kostopoulos, Jake Guentzel, Tristan Jarry, Patrick McGrath, Carter Rowney, Casey DeSmith, Tom Sestito, Oskar Sundqvist and Derrick Pouliot – will be available exclusively for purchase at the Pens game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday.  Fans won’t know whose jersey, or which design, they will be getting until they open their bags.

The other 15 jerseys – which are lettered and numbered, but NOT signed – will be available to purchase online through the Penguins Team Store starting at 7:05pm on Saturday night.

All jerseys are authentic sweaters, and size 56, 58, 58+ or 58 Goalie cuts.  The five designs included are the Penguins’ 2007-13 road sweater (37 jerseys); the 2013-16 road sweater (25 jerseys); the 2015-16 warm up sweater (22 jerseys); the 2015-16 third jersey (3 jerseys); and the 2014-15 warm up jersey (3 jerseys).

Each bag contains more than $400 worth of Penguins merchandise, and will be sold for $300.  All proceeds will benefit the Penguins GOALS Foundation.

As this is a MYSTERY BAG, we cannot guarantee specific sizes or players.  All sales are final, no exchanges will be made.

Individual game tickets for Saturday night’s game are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including packages for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

DEADLINE DEALS, HEALTHY PLAYERS COULD HELP WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON

Frank Corrado was acquired from Toronto on March 1.

The National Hockey League trade deadline has come and gone, and a handful of moves made by the Pittsburgh Penguins could pay dividends in Wilkes-Barre.

Pittsburgh made a pair of trades on Wednesday afternoon, acquiring Mark Street from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a fourth round draft pick in 2018, and sending Eric Fehr, Steve Oleksy and 2017 fourth round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Fran Corrado.

Corrado, a 23-year old puck-moving blueliner, was immediately assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, giving the AHL Penguins another offensive threat.

Pittsburgh also reassigned defenseman Cameron Gaunce to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, who has 13 points and a plus-15 rating in 47 games with the AHL club this season.

Additionally, Pittsburgh made a series of ‘paper transactions’ at the deadline, reassigning Carter Rowney, Jake Guentzel, and Derrick Pouliot to Wilkes-Barre and quickly recalling them.  Those moves make that trio eligible to suit up for the AHL Penguins during the remainder of the regular season and the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Those reinforcements could prove significant in the long run, as could the imminent returns of a pair of Penguins skaters.

Forward Thomas Di Pauli appeared in just eight games at the start of the season before suffering a long-term injury on November 26.  the highly-touted scorer out of Notre Dame has been practicing with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this week, and could return to game action as soon as this weekend.

And Garrett Wilson was in the midst of a career-year when he suffered an upper body injury against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Valentine’s Day.  His return seems to be a little further away, but add his double-digit goal scoring into an already formidable lineup, and the Penguins could receive a late-season infusion of offense.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Saturday, Mar. 4, and it will take on the Hershey Bears at Giant Center. Puck drop between the Penguins and Bears is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Wednesday, Mar. 8, and its opponent will be the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Individual game tickets for Mar. 8’s game and 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.

Penguins ticket packages, including 12-game, and 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS PRACTICE REPORT – FEBRUARY 21, 2017

For the first time this season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins experienced what might be considered a setback of sorts, as the team dropped three consecutive games during a three-in-three road trip over weekend.  It was just the second time all year the Penguins (37-14-3-0, 77 points, first place in the Atlantic Division) dropped consecutive games.

But head coach Clark Donatelli isn’t losing any sleep over the subpar record on the road.

“No reason to hit the panic button,” said Donatelli following Tuesday’s practice at the Toyota SportsPlex.

The Pens dropped decisions in Albany (4-0 on Friday), Springfield (2-1 on Saturday) and Providence (3-2 on Sunday afternoon).  Still, Donatelli continued to show faith in his club, which has been at the top of the American Hockey League standings all season.

“It was a tough road trip for us.  We didn’t get the results that we wanted.  The first game against Albany (on Friday night), I didn’t think we played that well.

“I thought the next two games…I thought we played really well, some of our best hockey.  We just came up short.  That’s going to happen some of the time.”

In recent weeks, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has seen several players summoned by the Pittsburgh Penguins, including the likes of Carter Rowney, Josh Archibald, Steve Oleksy and Cameron Gaunce, just to name the most recent recalls. But Donatelli is quick to downplay the notion that player movement had anything to do with this past weekend’s results.

“We’ve missed players all year,” he said.  “I don’t think we can say ‘we miss Jake anymore’.  He’s not here.  We have to move on from that.  Rowney’s not here, [but Oskar Sundqvist is] playing well.

“It’s not a personnel thing.  Guys are playing different roles, but the nucleus is still here and I don’t think that affected it one way or another.”

Archibald, who recorded his first two NHL goals on February 11 against the Arizona Coyotes, rejoined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the midst of the recent road swing.  He preferred to point to the positives over the weekend than any shortcomings.

“I didn’t think we played terrible as a team,” he said.  “Our power play was clicking (3 for 15 on the weekend), penalty kill was doing good (11 for 12). I think just five-on-five, if we can put a little more pucks on the net, that will help us out a lot.”

Donatelli gave some credit to the opposition as well, especially Springfield’s Reto Berra, who snuffed 37 of 39 shots thrown his way on Saturday, and Providence’s Zane McIntyre, who stopped 34 of 35 on Sunday afternoon to up his nearly unblemished record to 13-0-1 on the season.

“Sunday was just as good of a game as we’ve played all year,” Donatelli said.  “As long as we’re playing the right way, we’ll get the results we want.”