PENGUINS WEEKLY – 10/24/17

Penguins sweep weekend with two wins past regulation

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (4-2-0-0) used overtime to beat Laval and a shootout to dispatch of Hartford

 

Weekly Rewind

Friday, Oct. 20 – PENGUINS 6 vs. Laval 5  OT
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton emerged victorious in its first-ever meeting with Laval in thrilling fashion. Daniel Sprong netted his first AHL hat trick, but it was the overtime goal by Teddy Blueger that sent the Penguins home with their third victory of the season. Tristan Jarry saved 28 out of 33 shots he faced to earn his first win of the season.

Saturday, Oct. 21 – PENGUINS 3 vs. Hartford 2
The Penguins rallied back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime and won the best-of-three shootout on a lone goal by Jean Sébastien Dea. Gage Quinney extended his goal-streak to three games with a goal in the first period. Jarrett Burton’s first of the year tied the game on a bar-down slap shot. Casey DeSmith improved to 3-0-0 on the season.

 

The Week Ahead

Friday, Oct. 27 – PENGUINS vs. Hershey
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will try to extend its winning streak to four games when it welcomes the Hershey Bears to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the first of 12 meetings this season. The Bears are off to an uncharacteristically slow start to the season (1-4-0-1) and have given up the most goals per game in the AHL (4.50).

Saturday, Oct. 28 – PENGUINS at Bridgeport
Bridgeport finished 25-13-0-0 at home last season, and are looking to make it two-straight victories on home ice when it welcomes the Penguins for the first time this season. The Pens went 5-0-1-0 in their season series with the Sound Tigers last year, outscoring them 23-12. However, Bridgeport has added the scoring prowess of rookie Scott Eansor to its arsenal, who is tied with Daniel Sprong for the AHL lead in goals.

 

Ice Chips

– Daniel Sprong’s five-game goal streak tied Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s franchise record for goal streak to start a season, set by Tomáš Surový in 2003.

– Sprong leads the AHL in power play goals (5), is tied for the league lead in goals (7) and shots (29), and is tied for second in points (10).

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

– Casey DeSmith still has not allowed a goal at even strength this season, a streak that has lasted 117:45.

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

 

DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS Pt%
1. Providence 6 5 1 0 0 10 .883
2. Lehigh Valley 7 5 1 0 1 11 .786
3. Charlotte 7 5 2 0 0 10 .714
4. PENGUINS 6 4 2 0 0 8 .667
5. Hartford 7 3 3 0 1 7 .500
6. Bridgeport 6 2 4 0 0 4 .333
7. Hershey 6 1 4 0 1 3 .250
8. Springfield 7 1 6 0 0 2 .143

 

TEAM LEADERS

SKATERS GP G A PTS
Daniel Sprong* 6 7 3 10
Gage Quinney* 3 3 2 5
Dominik Simon 6 1 4 5
Lukas Bengtsson* 6 0 5 5
Kevin Czuczman 6 0 5 5

 

GOALIES GP W-L-OT GAA SV% Shutouts
Casey DeSmith^ 3 3-0-0 0.98 .965 1
Tristan Jarry 3 1-2-0 3.96 .883 0

* = rookie
^ = currently with Pittsburgh

 

UPCOMING GAME SCHEDULE

DATE                    OPPONENT     LOCATION                            TIME    

Fri, Oct. 27           Hershey            Mohegan Sun Arena             7:05 p.m.

Sat, Oct. 28         Bridgeport        Webster Bank Arena             7:00 p.m.

 

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Tue, Oct. 17         (D)     Chris Summers               Reassigned by PIT

Thu, Oct. 19        (D)     Zach Trotman                       Recalled by PIT

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

 

PITTSBURGH RECALLS CASEY DESMITH


The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled goaltender Casey DeSmith from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Forward Carter Rowney has been placed on injured reserve.

DeSmith, 26, is joining an NHL roster for the first time in his career. He has made three starts for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, posting a 3-0 record to accompany his 0.98 goals-against average, .965 save percentage and one shutout. DeSmith ranks second in the AHL in goal-against average and third in save percentage.

Last season, the 6-foot, 181-pound netminder was selected to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team after going 21-5-3 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 29 games. His goals-against average led the entire AHL.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton not only posted the best regular-season record in the AHL last year, but DeSmith and goaltending partner Tristan Jarry combined to record the lowest goals-against average in the league, earning the duo the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award.

DeSmith, a native of Rochester, New Hampshire, is in his third professional season. Thus far he has amassed an overall AHL regular-season record of 26-7-3 with a 1.92 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts. He has a 7-7 career playoff record in 14 postseason starts for WBS.

DeSmith originally broke into the professional ranks with the Wheeling Nailers in 2015-16, and played the last two seasons on minor-league deals. He signed his first NHL contract on July 1, 2017.

Prior to signing with Wheeling, DeSmith spent three seasons playing collegiately at New Hamphire, where he was 48-36-8 with a 2.32 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and nine shutouts. As a freshman, he was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, and he was a Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star selection as a sophomore.

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

PENGUINS PREVAIL OVER WOLF PACK IN SHOOTOUT, 3-2

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins went to the their first shootout of the season on Saturday night and came away with a 3-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

The Penguins (4-2-0-0) overcame a two-goal deficit to force overtime and won the best-of-three shootout on a lone goal by Jean-Sébastien Dea.

BOXSCORE

Hartford got the scoring started with a power play goal from Scott Kosmachuk at the side of the cage just 2:59 into the opening frame. The man advantage was effective once again for the Wolf Pack as Vinni Lettieri made it 2-0 at 11:17 of the first period.

After that, Casey DeSmith battened down the hatches and denied the Wolf Pack on 26 of the 28 shots he faced throughout the contest.

The Penguins answered the Wolf Pack’s second power play goal 34 seconds later when Gage Quinney was the beneficiary of a loose puck amid a wild, net-mouth scramble. Quinney has scored a goal in all three of his AHL games so far this season.

Jarrett Burton evened things up, 2-2, with his first goal of the season with 4:26 left in the second period.

Both teams were held scoreless in the third frame. Hartford goalie Alexandar Georgiev stopped a 16-shot barrage from the Penguins in the third period, while DeSmith was required to come up with several stops in the final minutes of regulation. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton outshot Hartford 5-0 in overtime, but five extra minutes of three-on-three hockey still did not yield a winner.

Dea played the hero’s role for the Penguins, scoring the only goal of the shootout in the second round.

In addition to blanking the Wolf Pack on all three of their shootout attempts, DeSmith improved to 3-0-0 on the season and still has not allowed a goal at even strength in 2017-18.

Georgiev made 41 saves on 43 shots faced in regulation and overtime.

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

PENGUINS WEEKLY – 10/17/17

Penguins use offensive outburst for first two wins of the season

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2-2-0-0) outscores opponents 11-1 in its two victories

 

Weekly Rewind

Friday, Oct. 13 – PENGUINS 5 vs. Lehigh Valley 0
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earned its first win of the 2017-18 campaign on the back of a 33-save shutout by Casey DeSmith. Tom Sestito tallied the eventual game-winner at 6:21 of the first period, while Daniel Sprong went on to score his second goal of the season with a power play goal.

Saturday, Oct. 14 – PENGUINS 2 at Lehigh Valley 3
The Penguins scored twice in the final period of play, but their comeback fell short against the Phantoms at PPL Center. Sprong kick-started Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s comeback by scoring for the third game in a row. Garrett Wilson later notched his first of the season to pull the Penguins within one, but they never found the late-game equalizer.

Sunday, Oct. 15 – PENGUINS 6 vs. Syracuse 1
Six different Penguins scored in their bounce-back victory during a Sunday matinée with the defending Eastern Conference champions. Gage Quinney scored a goal and had two assists in his AHL debut, and Sprong found the back of the net for the fourth-straight game. Christian Thomas scored his first goal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as well.

 

The Week Ahead

Friday, Oct. 20 – PENGUINS vs. Laval
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will try and string together a winning streak when it welcomes the Laval Rocket to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the first time ever. The Rocket have scored the most goals in the AHL this season (19).

Saturday, Oct. 21 – PENGUINS vs. Hartford
Hartford finished last in the AHL last season, but they’re off to a hot start in 2017-18 and tied for the best record in the Atlantic Division (3-1-0-0). The Penguins swept their season series with the Wolf Pack last season, going 6-0-0-0.

 

Ice Chips

– Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 7-1-0-1 in the third game of its three-in-three weekends last season and is already 1-0-0-0 at the back-end of three-in-threes this season.

– The Penguins received offense from five and six different goal scorers in its two wins this past weekend.

– Casey DeSmith still has not allowed a goal at even strength this season.

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

– Tom Sestito is one game away from playing his 500th professional game.

 

DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS Pt%
1. Charlotte 4 3 1 0 0 6 .750
2. Hartford 4 3 1 0 0 6 .750
3. Lehigh Valley 5 3 1 0 1 7 .700
4. Providence 3 2 1 0 0 4 .667
5. PENGUINS 4 2 2 0 0 4 .500
6. Bridgeport 3 1 2 0 0 2 .333
7. Hershey 3 0 2 0 1 1 .167
8. Springfield 4 0 4 0 0 0 .000

TEAM LEADERS

SKATERS GP G A PTS
Daniel Sprong* 4 4 2 6
Thomas Di Pauli* 4 2 1 3
Gage Quinney* 1 1 2 3
Dominik Simon 4 1 2 3
Lukas Bengtsson* 4 0 3 3
Kevin Czuczman 4 0 3 3
GOALIES GP W-L-OT GAA SV% Shutouts
Casey DeSmith 2 2-0-0 0.50 .983 1
Tristan Jarry 2 0-2-0 3.53 .900 0

* = rookie

UPCOMING GAME SCHEDULE

DATE                 OPPONENT     LOCATION                           TIME    

Fri, Oct. 20         Laval                      Mohegan Sun Arena               7:05 p.m.

Sat, Oct. 21         Hartford                Mohegan Sun Arena               7:05 p.m.

 

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Wed, Oct. 5        (D)     Chris Summers                   Recalled by PIT

 

PENGUINS SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN IN 6-1 DEFEAT OF CRUNCH

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins seized their second win of the 2017-18 season with a 6-1 victory against the Syracuse Crunch on Sunday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2-2-0-0) saw two rookies take the reins of its potent offense, Daniel Sprong and Gage Quinney, who had a goal and two assists each. Sprong extended his goal-scoring streak to four games, while Quinney impressed with his three-point output in what was his AHL debut.

BOXSCORE

The Penguins got on the board just 34 seconds into the game with a rebound goal on the first shot of the night by Jean-Sébastien Dea.

Syracuse goaltender Connor Ingram held Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in check for the rest of the opening frame, denying the Penguins on 11 of the 12 shots he faced in the first period. However, the floodgates opened on Ingram and the Crunch quickly in the second stanza.

Garret Wilson had a puck ricochet off of his boot and across the goal line 1:16 into the second period. Exactly three minutes later, Thomas Di Pauli tipped in a feed from Teddy Blueger and put the Penguins in a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Crunch answered during a five-on-three power play, when Cory Conacher’s shot deflected off of Wilson’s stick and snuck over the glove of Casey DeSmith.

After extended power play time on the other side of the ice, Christian Thomas scored his first goal as a Penguin and reestablished his team’s three-goal lead with 3:01 left in the second period.

Sprong made fans wait until the final period of regulation to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games, but he did just that midway through the third frame, making it 5-1. Sprong later set up Quinney for the 22-year-old’s first AHL goal with 5:18 left in the game.

DeSmith earned his second win on the season by saving 24 out of the 25 shots he faced, and he still has yet to be scored on at even strength so far this season. Ingram recorded 25 saves for the Crunch.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Oct. 20 against the Laval Rocket at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop between the Penguins and Rocket 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

PENGUINS BLANK PHANTOMS, 5-0, AND EARN FIRST WIN OF 2017-18


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins earned their first win of the 2017-18 season in convincing fashion as Casey DeSmith’s 33-save shutout led the team to a 5-0 triumph over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

BOXSCORE

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (1-1-0-0) had five different players account for its five goals, while DeSmith recorded the second clean sheet of his career.

After outlasting an early blitzkrieg by the Phantoms, the Penguins’ first goal of the game came from Tom Sestito on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s very first shot of the contest. Thomas Di Pauli outraced Lehigh Valley defenseman Samuel Morin on an impending icing call, then whipped around the net and set-up Sestito for the opening tally at 6:21 of the first period.

Shortly thereafter, Daniel Sprong notched his second power play goal of the season, giving the Penguins a 2-0 lead.

The third Penguins goal came at 7:52 of the second period as Frank Corrado’s fluttering shot from the point fooled Alex Lyon. Jean-Sébastien Dea made it 4-0 at 15:19 of the middle frame with the help of tic-tac-toe passing from Tom Kostopoulos and Adam Johnson. Lyon was pulled from the Phantoms net following Dea’s goal and replaced by Dustin Tokarski.

Tokarski was perfect in relief of Lyon for over 20 minutes of action until the Penguins found another man advantage marker, this time coming from Dominik Simon. Simon closed out the scoring in the 5-0 contest with 2:51 left in regulation.

Johnson (2A), Kevin Czuczman (2A), Zach Trotman (1A) and Dylan Zink (1) all earned their first points as Penguins throughout the course of the evening, as well.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s penalty kill was a perfect seven-for-seven on the night, and its power play unit converted on two of its six opportunities.

Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon finished with 11 saves on 15 shots before being replaced by Tokarski, who posted eight saves on nine shots.

The Penguins and Phantoms face-off again tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 14, when the two clubs drop the puck at Lehigh Valley’s PPL Center. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game Sunday, Oct. 15 against the Syracuse Crunch at 3:05 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.

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 : CASEY DESMITH


by Nick Hart

When Casey DeSmith wasn’t stopping pucks on the ice this past season, he often found himself dodging playful jokes from his teammates in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins locker room. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but all too frequently, someone would deliver DeSmith an insult regarding his car.

For a pro athlete, DeSmith drives modestly. He arrived at the rink every day in a gold 1998 Toyota Celica, a vehicle with a burnt-out taillight as well as the grit and character of a veteran fourth-liner.  Affectionately known as “The Golden Snitch” in some circles, it was the low hanging fruit, perfectly ripe for his teammates to pick.

DeSmith probably got it so hard from his teammates about his obsolescent automobile because there was little else they could tease him about, especially when it came to his play on the ice. One season after his sudden and shocking ascent from being a third-string goalie in the ECHL to the Penguins playoff starter, DeSmith picked up right where he left off for his first full AHL campaign.

Day in and day out, game after game, he was a dominant force between the pipes. That kind of consistency lent itself to one of the best rookie seasons a goalie has ever had in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins history. Not only did his gaudy statistics earn him a series of individual accolades, but his year culminated in the once undrafted DeSmith signing his first NHL contact on July 1.

“A personal goal that I set was just not necessarily to sign an NHL contract, but having a year to give me the possibility or opportunity to do that,” he said. “I’m glad that I was able to do that, and obviously it’s super exciting.”

An NHL contract wasn’t the only goal DeSmith set for himself at the start of the 2016-17 season, though. He came right into camp with the motivation to prove that his unpredictable playoff success the spring before was no fluke.

Anyone anticipating the New Hampshire native being a flash in the pan was proven wrong, not only when he started the season with an 8-0-2 record, but when he ultimately finished the season with an AHL-best 2.01 goals against average.

“That was important for me,” DeSmith said. “Obviously, the year before I didn’t have a ton of playing time or exposure or anything like that. So I definitely made the most of what I had. But this year, I knew I would have more of an opportunity to prove myself, and I wanted to take advantage of it.”

That’s exactly what he did. The coaching staff and his teammates, already familiar with his wizardry from the previous playoffs, grew to trust him even more. Just because the Penguins didn’t have their A-plus game on a given night, that didn’t mean their chances of victory were sunk. Just because Tristan Jarry wasn’t in net, it didn’t mean the Penguins would have a “back-up goalie mentality” when the other guy went in. Because the other guy was Casey DeSmith.

The rest of the league took notice of DeSmith, too.

Before the season’s end, he was named to the AHL’s 2016-17 All-Rookie Team. Once the season concluded, he and Tristan Jarry stood tall as statistically the best netminding tandem in the league, earning them the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award given annually to the goalie(s) with the fewest goals against at the end of the season.

With the playoffs gearing up at that stage of the year, DeSmith wasn’t really in the state of mind to appreciate the weight of the individual accolades he had received. However, when he returned home for the summer, he took the awards that were stashed in the back of the good ol’ Golden Snitch and handed them over to his mom and dad. It was in that moment that the reality of his accomplishments sunk in.

“I took them out and showed my parents, and you kind of realize how cool it is to get an award for All-Rookie Team or lowest goals against average as a tandem,” he said. “That’s not easy to do. [All-Rookie Team] is something only one goalie gets a year. One tandem as far as the Holmes award. It was handing those trophies to my parents and being like, ‘Man, this was a really good year.’”

DeSmith’s banner year didn’t end with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s season, though. On the first day of NHL free agency, the Pittsburgh Penguins inked him to a one-year, two-way contract.

“Excitement” is the emotion DeSmith cites most often when he thinks back to the day he put pen to paper, making the deal official. But he doesn’t dwell too much on what he’s already done. He’s already prepared to move forward and forge another unforgettable year like the one he just had.

“As a competitive athlete, it’s not enough,” he said. “You want to win the Stanley Cup. That’s the ultimate goal. So, it’s like a step in the right direction, rather than ‘Oh, I reached my goal. This is the top’. This doesn’t feel like the top of the mountain. This is another step in my climb to where I want to be.”

While DeSmith has his eyes on a greater prize as he continues to work to advance his career, certainly he had to celebrate the gigantic season and big contract signing in some fashion. And he did. After signing his first NHL contract, DeSmith went out and bought himself a new car.

Now, he’s the proud owner of a black Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Even though he’ll be traveling in style from now on, DeSmith isn’t so sure anyone will let him forget about his old ride anytime soon.

“You know, I might still hear about the gold car from time to time. But at least I won’t be driving to the rink in that anymore.”

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

PITTSBURGH RE-SIGNS SESTITO, CORRADO; INKS DeSMITH TO NHL DEAL


The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed three players who played key roles in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins finishing with the American Hockey League’s best regular-season record in 2016-17, it was announced Saturday by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Forward Tom Sestito and defenseman Frank Corrado both signed one-year, two-way contracts. Goaltender Casey DeSmith inked a two-year, two-way deal, the first NHL contract of his career.

All three contracts contain an average annual value of $650,000 at the NHL level.

Sestito, 29, saw the most NHL action of the trio last season, skating in 13 regular-season games with Pittsburgh, where he picked up two assists and collected 48 penalty minutes. At the AHL level with WBS, Sestito had 16 points (6G-10A) and collected 121 penalty minutes in 33 games.

The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Sestito has spent the last two years with the Penguins organization. He has three assists and 67 penalty minutes in 17 NHL games. Sestito has added 30 points (11G-19A) and 225 penalty minutes in 74 AHL regular-season contests with WBS, plus five points (2G-3A) in 12 AHL postseason games.

Corrado, 24, was acquired by the Penguins from the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 1 in a deal that sent Eric Fehr and Steve Oleksy, plus a 2017 fourth-round draft pick, to the Leafs. Corrado saw most of his action with WBS after his arrival, but he did suit up for two regular-season games with Pittsburgh in March.

A 6-foot, 205-pound right-handed defenseman, Corrado appeared in 17 regular-season games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, notching four points (1G-3A) and a plus-3. He also played in one postseason game. A 2011 fifth-round (150th overall) draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks, Corrado has suited up for 71 NHL regular-season games with the Canucks, Maple Leafs and Penguins, picking up eight points (3G-5A).

DeSmith, 25, earned his first NHL contract after leading all AHL netminders with a 2.01 goals-against average. DeSmith went 21-5-4 with one shutout and a .926 save percentage in 29 regular-season games. His save percentage tied for second-best in the AHL.  He was one-half of the AHL’s best goaltending duo alongside Tristan Jarry. The two combined to win the Harry ‘Hap’ Holmes Memorial Award, which is awarded to the goaltenders that post the lowest goals-against average in the AHL.

A 6-foot, 180-pound Rochester, New Hampshire native, DeSmith was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.

An undrafted free agent, DeSmith has appeared in 35 career AHL regular-season contests, compiling an overall record of 23-7-3 to go with his 2.00 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.

During the last two AHL playoff runs, DeSmith has assumed the starting role for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with Jarry backing up at the NHL level both years. DeSmith has gone 7-7 with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

Before joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, DeSmith played three seasons of college hockey at the University of New Hampshire, where he made the Hockey East All-Rookie Team as a freshman. DeSmith also saw action with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League for two seasons before advancing to the collegiate level.

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

PENGUINS SEASON IN REVIEW

It’s never easy to see your season come to an end.  It’s even more difficult when you have high expectations.  And after a 51-win regular season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins certainly thought they had the ability to advance deep into the Calder Cup Playoffs.

But a 2-1 Game Five defeat at the hands of the Providence Bruins on Sunday ended the Pens’ hopes for a run at a postseason championship.

“I thought we did absolutely everything in our power [Sunday] to try to win that game,” said forward Oskar Sundqvist.

Falling in the first round is undoubtedly disappointing.  And when you take into account that the Atlantic Division featured four of the top eight teams in the entire league, any opening series matchup was going to present challenges – on both sides of the puck.

“Overall, yeah, we’re disappointed we’re not in the playoffs. We’re disappointed that we have a   good enough team here that we could of made a good run,” said head coach Clark Donatelli.  “If you look at the whole broad picture of what we did as a group, there are a lot of positives that came out of it.”

So before we close the book for good on the 2016-17 season, let’s take a look back at some of those positives and high points for the Penguins.


GREAT GUENTZEL

Jake Guentzel’s first goal of the season was among the best in the AHL this season.
Jake Guentzel wasted little time in establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the AHL, recording four points (1+3) in the Penguins’ season-opening 6-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack on October 15.
The rookie forward recorded 17 points (7+10) in his first 16 games of the season, before receiving his first recall by the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 21.  He made his NHL debut that night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers, and announced his arrival with authority, scoring goals on his first two shots in a Pittsburgh uniform.

Guentzel returned to Wilkes-Barre in early December, recorded his first career hat trick on December 27 against the Springfield Falcons, and posted 42 points (21+21) in just 31 teams with the AHL club.  He was recalled once again on January 16, and has been a fixture in the Pittsburgh lineup ever since.


SUNNY RISING

Oskar Sundqvist capped his hat trick with a fourth goal against the Hershey Bears

Oskar Sundqvist’s second season can’t be considered anything except a success.  The native of Sweden recorded his sixth goal of the campaign in his 16th game, eclipsing his mark from the 2015-16 season.  He had 16 points by December 4 (one fewer than his entire tally from last year), and blew past his first-year total on December 10, when he tied a team record with four goals in a game against the Hershey Bears.

Sundqvist hit the 20-goal mark on April 7, one of just three Penguins skaters to see that total this season, and his 46 points (20+26) in 63 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tied him for third on the team.

Additionally, he saw action in 10 games with Pittsburgh this season, giving him 28 NHL contests in his first two years in North America.


ARCHIE ON THE ATTACK

Josh Archibald tied for the AHL lead with four short-handed goals this season, a total which included this beauty.

Josh Archibald came into his own this season, setting new career highs in goals (16), assists (13) and points (29).  He also paced the AHL with four short-handed tallies, and finished sixth in the league with a plus-25 mark in 61 games.  The fourth-year pro also thrilled with Pittsburgh, scoring his first two NHL goals in his first game of the season, February 11 against the Arizona Coyotes.


MILESTONE MAN

Tom Kostopoulos picked up his 500th AHL point with this tally against the Binghamton Senators

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton captain Tom Kostopoulos showed few signs of slowing down in his 18th season of professional hockey, leading the Penguins with 24 goals and 54 points while appearing in a team-high 74 games.

Along the way, TK hit memorable marks by recording his 400th point with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (November 4); hitting the 500 point plateau in the AHL (January 28); appearing in his 600th game with the Pens (February 4); and recording his 200th AHL goal (February 10).


DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE

The Penguins goaltending duo of Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith posted the lowest goals against average in the league at 2.15, earning the tandem the Harry ‘Hap’ Holmes award.

Jarry finished the season with 28 wins, third most in the league and the fourth-highest single season total in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history.  The AHL All-Star moved into a tie for fourth place on the team’s all-time wins list with Matt Murray (45) by year’s end, and his three shutouts this season evened Jeff Zatkoff’s career total of eight, tied for fifth in the Pens record book.

DeSmith posted an impressive 21 wins in 29 appearances, and led the entire AHL with a 2.01 goals against average. He stopped 26 shots to record his first AHL shutout on April 1 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and allowed two goals or fewer in 10 of his final 11 regular season appearances.

Additionally, David Warsofsky proved to be one of the most reliable defenseman in the league, finishing third overall with a plus-30 ranking, ranking seventh among blue liners with 47 points, and tied for fourth among defensemen with nine power play goals.  A member of the Atlantic Division squad at the AHL All-Star Classic, Warsofsky’s totals of 16+31=47 established new career highs across the board for the seventh-year pro.


FANTASTIC FIRSTS

Nine different Penguins skaters recorded their first career AHL goals during the 2016-17 season:

Reid Gardiner – November 5 at Bridgeport

Thomas DiPauli – November 16 at Lehigh Valley

Teddy Blueger – December 11 at Bridgeport

Lukas Bengtsson – December 16 vs Rochester

Ethan Prow – February 3 vs St. John’s

Zach Aston-Reese – March 21 vs Hartford

Troy Josephs – April 1 vs Lehigh Valley

Pat McGrath – April 8 at Hartford

Cody Wydo – April 9 at Providence

Also, goaltender Sean Maguire picked up his first AHL victory with a22 save performance against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the Pens regular season finale on April 15.


GOING TO THE SHOW

In addition to Guetnzel, three other Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins made their NHL debuts with Pittsburgh this season.

Carter Rowney, suited up for the big club for the first time on January 31 against the Nashville Predators, and netted his first NHL goal on March 17 against the New Jersey Devils.

Tristan Jarry and Jean-Sebastien Dea both appeared in Pittsburgh’s regular season finale on April 9 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.


ADDITIONAL HONORS AND AWARDS

Jake Guentzel captured the CCM / AHL Rookie of the Month honors for December with 17 points  (11+6) in 10 games during the month.

Guentzel and DeSmith were named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team at season’s end.

Warsofsky earned All-AHL Second Team honors.

The Penguins clinched their 15th consecutive playoff appearance – the longest current stream in the AHL – on April 2.

The Penguins laid claim to the Emile Francis (Atlantic Division Champion) and Frank Mathers (Eastern Conference Champion) trophies following a 2-1 win over the Providence Bruins on April 9.

The Penguins finished the season with a record of 51- 20-3-2 (107 points) and captured the MacGregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the league’s regular season champion on April 15.