PENGUINS WEEKLY – 10/10/17

 

 Penguins preparing for their first three-in-three weekend

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (0-1-0-0) searches for its first win of 2017-18 against Lehigh Valley, Syracuse

 

Weekly Rewind

Saturday, Oct. 7 – PENGUINS 2 vs. Charlotte 5
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opened its 19th season of play and quickly saw one of its young stars, Daniel Sprong, light the lamp early in the first period. Thomas Di Pauli also notched a shorthanded goal for the Penguins, but their new Atlantic Division foe, the Charlotte Checkers, had two shorties of its own in store to counter. Charlotte used its special teams attack of one power play goal and two shorthanded goals to defeat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on its home opener.

The Week Ahead

Friday, Oct. 13 – PENGUINS vs. Lehigh Valley
The Penguins look for their first win of the season as they renew their rivalry with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 7-4-0-1 against Lehigh Valley last season, including a franchise record shutout streak that lasted more than three games (268:49). The Phantoms are   1-0-0-1, and most recently lost in a shootout to Hartford.

Saturday, Oct. 14 – PENGUINS at Lehigh Valley
The Penguins and Phantoms face-off once again in the second match-up of their weekend home-and-home. The Penguins have seen much success in the Phantoms’ barn since their relocation to Allentown in 2014. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has a 13-3-1-1 all-time record at PPL Center.

Sunday, Oct. 15 – PENGUINS vs. Syracuse
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton closes out its first three-in-three weekend of the season with a Sunday matinée at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza against the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, the Syracuse Crunch. The contest is also the first Kids Get In Free Sunday of the year. Kids age 14 and under enter free of admission with the paid purchase of an adult ticket. Syracuse is off to an 0-1-1-0 start to the season, with its last game being an overtime loss to Rochester.

Ice Chips

– Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is now 10-9-0 in home openers and  9-10-0 overall in its season openers.

– Seven different players made their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins regular season debut on Saturday: Kevin Czuczman, Adam Johnson, Andrey Pedan, Daniel Sprong, Chris Summers, Christian Thomas and Zach Trotman.

– Thomas Di Pauli’s goal on Saturday was the first shorthanded tally of his pro career.

– Saturday night was the first time since Mar. 19, 2013 vs. Worcester (Freddie Hamilton) that the Penguins allowed two shorthanded goals to the same player in one game.

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

 

DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM GP W L OTL SOL PTS Pt%
1. Charlotte 2 2 0 0 0 4 1.00
2. Providence 1 1 0 0 0 2 1.00
3. Lehigh Valley 2 1 0 0 1 3 .750
4. Hartford 2 1 1 0 0 2 .500
5. Bridgeport 1 0 1 0 0 0 .000
6. Springfield 1 0 1 0 0 0 .000
7. PENGUINS 1 0 1 0 0 0 .000
8. Hershey 1 0 1 0 0 0 .000

 

TEAM LEADERS

SKATERS GP G A PTS
Thomas Di Pauli* 1 1 0 1
Daniel Sprong* 1 1 0 1
Teddy Blueger 1 0 1 1
Tristan Jarry 1 0 1 1

 

GOALIES GP W-L-OT GAA SV% Shutouts
Tristan Jarry 1 0-1-0 4.02 .886 0

* = rookie

UPCOMING GAME SCHEDULE

DATE                  OPPONENT     LOCATION                             TIME    

Fri, Oct. 13          Lehigh Valley     Mohegan Sun Arena               7:05 p.m.

Sat, Oct. 14         Lehigh Valley    PPL Center                                7:05 p.m.

Sun, Oct. 15        Syracuse            Mohegan Sun Arena               3:05 p.m.

 

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Wed, Oct. 4        (D)     Kevin Spinozzi                      Signed to PTO

 

PENGUINS DROP OPENING NIGHT DECISION TO CHECKERS, 5-2

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Daniel Sprong notched his first regular season goal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but the team ultimately fell, 5-2, in their 2017-18 season opener to the Charlotte Checkers at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Saturday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (0-1-0-0) surrendered back-to-back shorthanded tallies to Charlotte (2-0-0-0) rookie Warren Foegele, who has kicked off his pro career with four goals and two game-winning goals in his first two games.

The Penguins’ first goal of the season came from Sprong on the power play when he scorched a wrist shot past the blocker side of Jeremy Smith at 7:40 of the opening frame.

Valentin Zykov notched a goal for Charlotte with only 1:59 remaining in the first period, evening the score at 1-1.

The second period became a special teams fest for both clubs, with Charlotte and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton combining for seven power play opportunities in the middle stanza. Thomas Di Pauli used a shorthanded goal at 14:46 of the second period to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead, but that was taken away three minutes later by a man advantage marker from the Checkers’ Phil Di Giuseppe.

Foegele gave Charlotte its first lead of the contest, 3-2, with a shorthanded tally with less than a minute left before the second intermission. Foegele found the back of the net again with yet another shorthanded goal 9:37 into the third period, making it 4-2, Charlotte.

Di Giuseppe nailed a long-distance empty-net goal in final two minutes of regulation, bringing the game to its final score of 5-2.

Tristan Jarry posted 31 saves in net for the Penguins. Smith stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Oct. 13 at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 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.

DANIEL SPRONG FOCUSED ON IMPROVING HIS DEFENSIVE SKILLS

Everywhere Daniel Sprong has gone, he’s been really, really good at one thing: scoring goals. Ever since he was one of few young lads tearing up the rink in Amsterdam, he was scoring goals. Once he crossed the pond and was terrorizing the bantam and minor midget ranks up and down the eastern seaboard, it was because he was scoring goals.

Sprong has continued to generate offense in bunches since the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted him in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.  But now they’re looking for him to find a new trick: they want him to learn how to play defense.

The oft-cited but always elusive “200-foot game” is what Sprong is focused on achieving these days. Last year, after shoulder surgery denied him the first few months of the season, Sprong used his time back with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Québec Major Junior Hockey League to not only score many more goals, but to work on rounding out the defensive aspects of his skillset.

“I had good teammates and good coaches that helped me out with my 200-foot game in the Q last year, and I think my plus/minus showed it,” Sprong said. “And these games at [the 2017 Prospect Challenge], each game got better and better. It’s never going to be perfect at this time of year, but I’m making progress and getting closer to where I need to be.”

It’s hasn’t been an overnight adjustment for Sprong, largely because his game has been predicated on generating offense his entire life. And when he looks at the roster of the NHL team that drafted him, there’s plenty of existing offensive firepower with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel to name a few. So Sprong feels the pressure to demonstrate his worth amongst a crowded field of competition.

“Pittsburgh has a lot of scoring depth and me being an offensive guy, of course I have to worry about creating chances every time I’m on the ice to prove myself,” Sprong said.

That creates quite a mental paradox for a young player. On one hand, you want to do the one thing you’ve done your whole life, while the people in charge of you want you to do the opposite. Instead of being overwhelmed by it all, Sprong has welcomed this challenge with open arms.

Furthermore, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach Tim Army says that Sprong is far from the first player to go through that conundrum.

“That’s the pressure of this immense offensive potential and ability,” Army said. “But then it’s about the process of players learning how to best take advantage of that ability. The only way you can take advantage of it, is being diligent without the puck in all three zones. Pro hockey’s too difficult, it’s too humbling. If you’re not diligent off the puck, you’ll quickly find you’ll dry up offensively, too.”

A young offensive stud isn’t exactly accustomed to playing off the puck all that often, though. Sprong has been the go-to guy for his teams to drive the play shift after shift. Now that he’s starting from scratch and isn’t going to always be in those same situations, well, that’s the current learning curve he’s on right now.

“That’s just all part of being a pro,” coach Clark Donatelli said. “Those offensive players, especially coming out of juniors, their defense IS having the puck. Now when you try moving up, you might have the puck less, so you have to adapt your game. He’s such a high talent that he’ll figure it out.”

Sprong is also far from the first player to go through these growing pains. Donatelli and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton GM Bill Guerin both used the phrase “superstars” when talking about the game’s history of offensive players thriving once they learned how to effectively play defense. Army, on the other hand, had more specific examples.

“I think back to all those years ago when I was in Anaheim, and we drafted Paul Kariya,” he said. “And then when we traded for Teemu (Selänne). They were really young guys at that time. They obviously had brilliant offensive ability, but to learn the game from an away from the puck vantage point, it took some time.Eventually, by them playing, and you being patient with them and instructing them, they begin to figure it out.”

Now, both Kariya and Selänne are Hall of Fame bound.

That’s not to say Sprong is destined for Younge Street, but those two names provide a perfect example of what his career could be if he harnesses the power of the mythical 200-foot game. Only then can he truly reach the skyscraper high ceiling of his offensive talents. More goals for Daniel Sprong. Though he’s probably used to hearing that at this point.

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

PENGUINS PROSPECTS HIT THE ICE IN BUFFALO THIS WEEKEND

Jeff Taylor will be among the players who suited up for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins participating in the 2017 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo

Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese headline the 24-man roster (full roster and player bios) that the Pittsburgh Penguins will send to participate in the 2017 Prospects Challenge held at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, New York from September 8-11.

This year, the Penguins will compete against rookies from the host Buffalo Sabres, the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins. This is Pittsburgh’s first year competing in Buffalo after several years participating in a rookie tournament in London, Ontario.

Pittsburgh will play in the opening game of the Prospects Challenge on Friday, September 8 at 3:30 PM. The Penguins will also play on Saturday, September 9 at 3:30 PM against New Jersey, before concluding with a night contest against the Sabres on Monday, September 11 at 7:00 PM.

All three games will be broadcast live on penguins.nhl.com with Josh Getzoff handling play-by-play duties. Michelle Crechiolo and the Pens’ social media team will be on hand to provide coverage all weekend.

Prior to departing for Buffalo, the Penguins prospects will practice on Thursday, September 7 at 10:30 AM at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Pa. Players, coaches and members of the development staff will be available to the media immediately following practice.

During the Prospects Challenge, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Clark Donatelli will be behind the bench for the Penguins, alongside his assistants, J.D. Forrest and Tim Army.

Sprong, 20, who skated in 18 NHL regular-season games for the Penguins as an 18 year old in 2015-16, has been a member of Pittsburgh’s ‘Black Aces’ taxi squad during the back-to-back Stanley Cup runs. Back in 2015, Sprong used a strong rookie tournament in London, Ontario to eventually make the NHL roster out of training camp, before returning to his junior club in Charlottetown of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Last year, Sprong’s season was delayed by offseason shoulder surgery, but when he returned to the ice, he was one of the most dominant skaters in the QMJHL. In just 31 games with Charlottetown, he produced 32 goals and 59 points, including four hat tricks and a four-goal game.

Aston-Reese, 23, joined the Pittsburgh organization as an undrafted free agent from Northeastern after leading the NCAA in goals (31) and points (63) in 2016-17. In a brief late-season cameo with WBS, Aston-Reese scored three goals and eight points in 10 games.

Here are some tidbits on the remainder of Pittsburgh’s Prospects Challenge roster:

*Five more players in addition to Sprong and Aston-Reese – defensemen Lukas Bengtsson, Ethan Prow and Jeff Taylor; and forwards Teddy Blueger and Thomas Di Pauli – are prospects signed to NHL contracts that have also logged action with WBS.

*Rookie free agent forward Adam Johnson, who inked an entry-level deal with Pittsburgh following a strong showing at the team’s annual prospect development camp in July, will compete in his first game action in a Penguins jersey. Johnson was second on Minnesota-Duluth in goals (18) and points (37) as a sophomore last year.

*Three members of the Penguins’ 2017 draft class will suit up, including top pick Zachary Lauzon. The 18-year-old defenseman was chosen by the Penguins in the second round (51st overall). He will be joined by forward Jan Drozg, a fifth-round (152nd overall) pick, and fellow blueliner Antti Palojarvi, who was selected in the sixth round (186th overall).

*Freddie Tiffels, a 22-year-old 2015 sixth-round (167thoverall) draft pick, will be joining Johnson in seeing his first game action with Pittsburgh following a three-year collegiate career at Western Michigan.

*Of the 24 players attending the Prospects Challenge, 17 attended Pittsburgh’s prospect development camp in July.

Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2017 Prospects Challenge Schedule

Thursday, September 7

10:30 AM – Practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex

Friday, September 8

9:00 AM – Morning Skate (KeyBank Rink)

3:30 PM – Game vs. Boston (Kaybank Rink)

Saturday, September 9

9:00 AM – Morning Skate (New Wave Energy Rink)

3:30 PM – Game vs. New Jersey (KeyBank Rink)

Monday, September 11

11:00 AM – Morning Skate (New Wave Energy Rink)

7:00 PM – Game vs. Buffalo (KeyBank Rink)

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