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

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

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

LATE SEASON ADDITIONS CAN HELP PENGUINS

Troy Josephs and Zach Aston-Reese have joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after exceptional senior seasons at Clarkson and Northeastern respectively.  And while it remains to be seen what kind of impact the talented duo will have in the final month of American Hockey League action, past late season signings by the Penguins have led to positive performances.

Back in April 2014, a little known free agent named Connor Sheary signed an Amateur Tryout contract with the Penguins after completing his collegiate career at U. Mass.  The speedy forward appeared in two regular season games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before going on to post 11 points (6+5) in 15 postseason contests.  That point total was good for third on the team, and his six goals were tied for second.

The following year, Sheary led the AHL club with 45 points in just 58 games, and earned himself and NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He joined the NHL squad midway through last season, and was a key component of Pittsburgh’s fourth Stanley Cup Championship.

At the beginning of last season, Jake Guentzel was just another mid-round draft selection that you may or may not have heard of.  Grabbed by the Penguins in the third round in 2013, Guentzel went on to lead the University of Nebraska-Omaha with 46 points last season, before signing an ATO with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 22.  He recorded a respectable six points (2+4) in 11 regular season games, before turning on the afterburners in the playoffs.  His 14 points (5+9) in 10 postseason contests led the Penguins, and were the most by any player in the league when the Pens were eliminated after the second round.

Guentzel picked right up where he left off this season, posting 42 points in 33 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  He also notched a pair of goals in his NHL debut against the New York Rangers, and has 25 points (11+14) in his first 34 NHL contests (as of March 20).  His 21 tallies with the AHL Penguins this season still ranked tied for second among league rookies on March 15, despite Guentzel’s last game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coming on January 14.

Daniel Sprong was another highly-touted prospect that jumped right into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lineup and provided a spark last year.  The Pittsburgh Penguins’ second round choice in the 2015 NHL Draft recorded 46 points (16+30) in just 33 games with his junior club in Charlottetown (QMJHL), then joined the AHL club just as the Calder Cup Playoffs were getting underway.  He put up an impressive five goals and seven points in 10 postseason contests with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The 20-year old Sprong has been tearing up the QMJHL again this season.  After missing much of the campaign due to injury, Sprong has recorded 32 goals and 59 points in just 31 games with Charlottetown.  The Islanders finished second overall in the Q this season, and figure to be among the favorites when the league’s playoffs start this week.

It’s a busy seven day span for the Penguins, who will host the Hartford WolfPack at home on Tuesday night before a three-in-three weekend.  The Pens will play in Syracuse Friday and Allentown Saturday, before returning home to face the Utica Comets on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday’s game is another KIDS FREE Sunday. Fans ages 14 and younger can get into the game for free with a paid adult ticket. Plus we’ll have $2 hot dogs throughout the game, and a free postgame skating session (skates not included).

For more info or to purchase tickets, call the Penguins at 570-208-7367.