DECISION TO STAY IN PITTSBURGH A NO-BRAINER FOR RUHWEDEL


by Mike O’Brien

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

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

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

Ruhwedel had been at this crossroads before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PITTSBURGH SIGNS PROSPECT TIFFELS, DEFENSEMAN RUHWEDEL

Chad Ruhwedel recorded 16 points (4G-12A) in 28 contests with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins made two player moves on Thursday, signing prospect forward Freddie Tiffels to a two-year, entry-level contract, and re-signing defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year contract, it was announced by by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford

Tiffels, 22, enjoyed a successful junior season at Western Michigan this past year, scoring nine goals and setting personal highs with 12 assists and 21 points in 37 games played. One of his best games of the season came in the Broncos’ NCAA Tournament loss to Air Force when Tiffels scored twice.

The 6-foot, 192-pound Tiffels was named to the NCHC All-Academic Team following both his sophomore and junior years at Western Michigan. He wrapped up his three-year collegiate career by scoring 27 goals, notching 32 assists and totaling 59 points in 105 career games, and was the Broncos’ Rookie of the Year as a freshman.

Pittsburgh’s sixth round (167th overall) selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, Tiffels skated for Germany at the 2017 World Championship this spring, scoring a pair of goals.

Earlier in his international career, the Cologne, Germany native played in three World Junior Championships for his country, tallying nine points (5G-4A).

His deal will begin with the 2017-18 season and run through the 2018-19 campaign.

Ruhwedel, 27, enjoyed his best season at the NHL level this past year, skating in a career-high 34 regular-season contests, collecting 10 points (2G-8A) and a plus-9. He also skated in six playoff games with Pittsburgh on the way to helping the Pens earn a second-straight Stanley Cup victory.

A native of San Diego, California, Ruhwedel made his Pittsburgh debut on Dec. 20 against the New York Rangers, and scored his first NHL goal three nights later versus Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils. On March 8 at Winnipeg, Ruhwedel had the best game of his NHL career, picking up three assists.

The 5-foot-11, 191-pound defenseman spent half of his first season in the Pittsburgh organization with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, tallying 16 points (4G-12A) in 28 contests.

Ruhwedel broke into the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres organization as an undrafted free agent following a three-year collegiate career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Ruhwedel has appeared in a combined 67 career NHL regular-season games with Pittsburgh and Buffalo, netting 12 points (2G-10A).

Ruhwedel joined the Pittsburgh organization as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016.  His new deal runs through the 2018-19 season and has an average annual value of $650,000.

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 ALUMNI REPORT

Pittsburgh Penguins forward CONOR SHEARY is on quite the hot streak lately, recording nine points over the past four games, and earning the NHL’s First Star of the Week award.

Sheary has picked up six goals and three assists during the Penguins’ current four-game winning streak.  He has three two-goal games and points in every contest, giving him his first four-game point streak at the NHL level.

The former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton skater has eight games during the month of January, tied for the most in the league, and currently ranks fourth on the Penguins with 34 points and third with 17 goals.

Sheary spent parts of three seasons playing in NEPA, recording 81 points (27+54) in 90 regular season games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  As of Monday, the Winchester, MA native had totaled 44 points (24+20) in 83 games with Pittsburgh.

Here’s a look at WBS alumni currently on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster:

BRYAN RUST:  Currently skating on a line with Sheary and Sidney Crosby, Rust has put up 24 points (12+12) in 43 games with Pittsburgh.  The speedy winger is creeping up on 100 games with the NHL club (he currently sits at 98), and has produce 37 points (17+20) in parts of two seasons in the Burgh.

Rust totaled 33 points (16+17) in 63 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over parts of three campaigns.

SCOTT WILSON:  Wilson has 13 points (5+8) in 43 games this season with Pittsburgh, and 19 points (10+9) in 68 career games with the big club.

In parts of three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Wilson recorded 77 points (41+36). His 22 goals last season ranked third in the team, despite his appearing in only 34 games with WBS.

JAKE GUENTZEL:  The rookie forward has shown he’s ready for the bright lights of the NHL with seven points (4+3) in nine games with Pittsburgh.  He made an immediate impression, scoring on his first NHL shot during his debut on November 21 against the Rangers, and following that up with another tally later in the game.

Guentzel joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after his college schedule came to an end last year, and all he did was lead the Pens in playoff scoring (5+9=14 in 10 games).  He currently ranks second in the AHL with 21 goals and 42 points despite an extended stay with Pittsburgh.

TOM KUHNHACKL:  The German-born Kuhnhackl has found it difficult to crack the Pittsburgh lineup recently, appearing in just two games since December 16.  He has five points (2+3) in 25 games this season to go with 20 (7+13) in 67 games last year.

In parts of four seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Kuhnhackl picked up 59 points (29+30) in 154 games.

ON THE BLUELINE

STEVE OLEKSY has one assist in nine games with Pittsburgh this season, and has brought a physical edge to the blue line with 22 penalty minutes.  He has 23 points (3+20) in 73 career games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and led the club with 123 penalty minutes last year.

CHAD RUHWEDEL tallied his first NHL goal in his second game with Pittsburgh back on December 23, and has added two assists in nine games with the team.  His 16 points (4+12) in 28 games are second most among WBS defenders this season.

CAMERON GAUNCE picked up assists in his first two games after being recalled last week.  He had eight points (2+6) in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first 39 games this season.

BETWEEN THE PIPES:

MATT MURRAY:  Since returning from a two week stint on the medical report, Murray has appeared in five of the Penguins past six games, including each of the past four contests.  He’s posted a 4-1-0-0 mark in that time while allowing 14 goals.  Half of those came in an 8-7 OT victory against the Washington Capitals, and he’s only let in one goal in each of his past three appearances.  For the season, Murray has posted a 17-4-0 mark in 22 games with a 2.32 GAA and .923 save percentage.

Murray rewrote the AHL record books while with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 12 shutouts during the 2014-15 season, setting the league record for longest shutout streak (304:11) and earning the league’s top goaltender and rookie awards.  He posted a 45-20-4 mark in two-plus seasons.

MARC-ANDRE FLEURY:  The two-time Stanley Cup champion and former first overall draft pick has a 13-7-0 record this season, and holds a 370-213-67 mark with Pittsburgh all-time.

Fleury appeared in 71 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during parts of three seasons, posting a 39-23-4 record and 2.32 goals against average.

ON THE INJURY REPORT:

KRIS LETANG:  One of the NHL’s top puck moving defensemen, Letang had 23 points (4+19) in 30 games before suffering a lower body injury on January 14 against Detroit.   Letting has scored more points for Pittsburgh (375) than any other Wilkes-Barre/Scranton graduate.  He suited up for 10 games with WBS at the start of the 2007-08 season, recording seven points (1+6).

BRIAN DUMOULIN:  A fractured jaw has kept Dumoulin on the sidelines since December 27.  He had seven assists in 35 games prior to that this season.  He appeared in 188 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from 2012-15, posting 78 points (15+53).

GUENTZEL, RUHWEDEL RECALLED BY PITTSBURGH

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled forward Jake Guentzel and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Defenseman Kris Letang has been placed on injured reserve.

Guentzel, 22, has been one of the top offensive threats in the AHL this season, leading the league with 21 goals and ranking second overall with 42 points in just 33 games. His plus-21 is second overall behind only teammate David Warsofsky.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Guentzel played in five games with Pittsburgh earlier this year, netting three goals and four points. Since he was returned to WBS, Guentzel has points in 14 of 17 games, totaling 14 goals, 11 assists, 25 points and a hat trick against Springfield on Dec. 27.

Guentzel was tabbed alongside goaltender Tristan Jarry to participate in the AHL All-Star Classic on Jan. 29-30 at Lehigh Valley.

Ruhwedel, 26, has skated in five NHL games with Pittsburgh this year, tallying two points (1G-1A) and a plus-3. He scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 23 versus New Jersey.

At the AHL level, the 5-foot-11, 191-pound defender has four goals, 12 assists and 16 points in 28 contests.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Monday afternoon, Jan. 16, when they face off once again with the Syracuse Crunch at 1:00 p.m. at Onondaga County Oncenter War Memorial Arena. The Penguins’ next home showing is Saturday, Jan. 21, and their opponent will be the Hershey Bears.

Individual game tickets for the game on Jan. 21 and all Penguins home games, 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.

RUHWEDEL REJOINS WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON

The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-assigned defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Ruhwedel, 26, has appeared in five games with Pittsburgh this season, recording two points (1+1), including his first career NHL goal.  He has 15 points (4+11) in 27 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.

A native of San Diego, California, Ruhwedel broke into the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres as an undrafted free agent, collecting two assists in 33 NHL contests over parts of four years.

During his three-year college career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Ruhwedel was an NCAA First-Team All-American his final year, helped his school reach the 2013 Frozen Four held at PPG Paints Arena and was teammates with Scott Wilson for two seasons.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 13, against the Rochester Americans. The Penguins’ next home showing is Saturday, Jan. 21, and their opponent will be the Hershey Bears.

Individual game tickets for the game on Jan. 21 and all Penguins home games, 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.

PITTSBURGH RECALLS JARRY, RUHWEDEL

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

Jarry and Ruhwedel dressed for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 3-2 defeat of the Hartford Wolf Pack on January 3. That night, Jarry stopped 25 of 27 shots to pick up his AHL-leading 14th victory, while Ruhwedel tallied a goal and an assist, to go along with a game-high eight shots on goal.

On January 5, Jarry was named to Atlantic Division roster for the AHL All-Star Classic to be played January 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. He will join fellow AHL All-Star Jake Guentzel, as well as WBS head coach Clark Donatelli, on the Atlantic Division team.

Ruhwedel has two points (1G-1A) and is plus-3 in five NHL games with Pittsburgh this season. Jarry is still looking to make his NHL debut.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Jan. 6, when they face-off against the Hershey Bears at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Friday night’s contest is also an Eyewitness News Fan Friday, with $14 lower bowl tickets, select draft beers for just $2 from 6:00-7:30 p.m., and a post-game autograph session with Ethan Prow and Stuart Percy.

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.

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

PENGUINS DEFEAT WOLF PACK, 3-2

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins got back to their winning ways on Tuesday night by beating the Hartford Wolf Pack, 3-2, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

The Penguins (22-7-3-0) flexed their offensive power to score three-straight goals, giving them enough breathing room to fend off a late-game surge by the Wolf Pack.

Wilkes-Bare/Scranton came out strong in the first period, with Teddy Blueger lifting the puck past two Hartford players and into the top corner for a goal just 3:50 into the contest.

The Penguins pressured the Wolf Pack heavily on their first power play of the game, which yielded no results. Success came just seconds later, however, when Josh Archibald tipped in David Warsofsky’s shot from the blue line at 13:03.

The Penguins spent very little time in their own defensive zone throughout the opening period, out-shooting the Wolf Pack 15-4 at the end of the first 20 minutes of play.

After a scoreless second period Chad Ruhwedel made it 3-0 for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton just 2:24 into the third period on a Penguins power play that featured a Wolf Pack forward with a broken stick.

Hartford began its comeback bid shortly thereafter, at 5:45 of the third with a goal from Steven Fogarty.  And Tanner Glass notched the Wolf Pack’s second score of the game from the slot on a feed from behind the net. Glass’ marker made it a one-goal game at 14:33 of the third.

The Penguins headed to a late penalty kill as the Wolf Pack pushed to tie the game, but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s P.K. finished the night a perfect four-for-four and helped the team hang on for the win.

Tristan Jarry made 25 saves on the night – including 15 in the third period – en route to his league-leading 14th win of the season. Brandon Halverson recorded 32 saves and was handed the loss.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is at home on Friday, Jan. 6 against the Hershey Bears. Friday night’s contest is also an Eyewitness News Fan Friday, with $14 lower bowl tickets, select draft beers for just $2 from 6:00-7:30 p.m., and a post-game autograph session with two Penguins players.

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.

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

PITTSBURGH ASSIGNS THREE TO WBS

Chad Ruhwedel

The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-assigned defensemen Chad Ruhwedel and David Warsofsky, and goaltender Tristan Jarry, to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, it was announced Sunday by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finished the 2016 portion of the AHL schedule with a record of 21-7-3-0, good for 45 points and a .726 winning percentage – the top mark in the league.

The Penguins play three games on home ice this week – Tuesday, January 3 vs. Hartford; Friday, January 6 vs. Hershey; and Saturday, January 7 vs. Binghamton.

Individual game tickets for Tuesday 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.

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

PITTSBURGH RECALLS CHAD RUHWEDEL

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

Defenseman Kris Letang has been placed on injured reserve.

Ruhwedel, 26, has helped WBS compile the top record in the AHL, tallying 13 points (3G-10A) in 26 games, the second-highest total among defensemen on the club.

Earlier this season, the 5-foot-11, 191-pound blueliner spent a couple days with Pittsburgh, but he did not appear in a game.

A native of San Diego, California, Ruhwedel broke into the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres as an undrafted free agent, collecting two assists in 33 NHL contests over parts of four years.

During his three-year college career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Ruhwedel was an NCAA First-Team All-American his final year, helped his school reach the 2013 Frozen Four held at PPG Paints Arena and was teammates with Scott Wilson for two seasons.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are home tonight to face the Springfield Thunderbirds at 7:05pm.  It’s our annual holiday celebration, with the Tobyhanna Teddy Bear Toss taking place after the Penguins first goal, and our ugly Christmas jersey auction going on during the game.

Individual game tickets for tonight’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.

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