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

DONATELLI, FORREST TO LEAD TEAM USA AT HLINKA TOURNAMENT


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins training camp is still more than a month away, but two members of the team’s coaching staff will be back behind a bench later this week.

For the second consecutive season, Clark Donatelli will guide the United States Under-18 Select Team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.  The eight-team tournament will be held in Breclav, Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia, starting on August 7.

Among the assistants joining Donatelli with Team USA will be Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach, J.D. Forrest.

The tournament features the top players under the age of 18 from the major hockey playing countries.  The teams are split into two groups (Group A – Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, USA; Group B – Canada, Finland, Russia, Slovakia), with each team playing once against the other countries within its group.

The top two teams in each group will advance to play in semifinal and medal rounds, while the lower ranked teams will face off to determine places five through eight.

Donatelli and Forrest were among the coaches and administrators who helped select the team of 22 skaters from a pool of players at USA Hockey’s Boys Select 17 Player Development Camp, held last month in Amherst, NY.

Last year Donatelli led the U.S. to a second-place finish in the competition, guiding the team to a 4-0 record before falling to the Czech Republic, 4-3, in the championship game.

We will have updates after every game online, and J.D. Forrest will be keeping us updated from overseas with blog posts and photos throughout the tournament.  We hope you’ll follow along with us.

The full U.S. team schedule for the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup:

 DATE  OPPONENT  TIME (E.T.)  ROUND  LOCATION
 Thursday, August 3  Hungary U-20  2:00 pm  Exhibition Game  Budapest, Hungary
 Saturday, August 5  Slovakia U-18  11:30 am  Exhibition Game  Bratislava, Slovakia
 Monday, August 7  Sweden  9:30 am  Preliminary Round  Breclav, Czech Republic
 Tuesday, August 8  Switzerland  9:30 am  Preliminary Round  Breclav, Czech Republic
 Wednesday, August 9  Czech Republic  1:00 pm  Preliminary Round  Breclav, Czech Republic
 Friday, August 11  TBD  TBD  TBD  TBD
 Saturday, August 12  TBD  TBD  TBD  TBD

Ivan Hlinka played in 256 games as a member of the Czechoslovakian national team and scored 132 goals in international competition. He also played in 544 games in Czechoslovak league, scoring 347 times.  Hlinka was among the first Czech-born players to suit up in the National Hockey League, joining the Vancouver Canucks in 1981.  He set a Canucks rookie record with 60 points (later broken by Pavel Bure).

In 2000, Hlinka took over the head coaching reigns of the Pittsburgh Penguins, guiding the team to a 42-28-9-3 mark, and a spot in the Eastern Conference Final.  He was killed in an automotive accident in the Czech Republic in August of 2004.

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

GUERIN JOINS LIST FOR GOAL IN ONE GOLF CLASSIC


United States Hockey Hall of Fame member, Stanley Cup champion and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins general manager Bill Guerin has joined the roster for the team’s GOAL IN ONE Golf Tournament, presented by GWC Warranty.

Guerin joins an impressive lineup of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton alumni, including the Pittsburgh Penguins’ two-time Stanley Cup winning coach Mike Sullivan; current New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes; Devils assistant Alain Nasreddine; and Glenn Patrick, who guided the Penguins during the team’s first four seasons in the American Hockey League.  Former Penguins players Dennis Bonvie and Chris Kelleher will be on hand, as will current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaches Clark Donatelli, Chris Taylor and J.D. Forrest.

The two-day event will feature a VIP reception at the Westmoreland Club on Sunday, July 16, followed by the 18-hole, captain and crew format tournament at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club on Monday, July 17.  Golfers will be treated to continental breakfast, lunch on the course, hors d’oeuvres and a pig roast dinner, as well as an open bar during the meal, and a special gift for each participant.

More names will be added to the lineup in the near future.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Penguins GOALS Foundation, which provides young people and families with the opportunity to experience the game of hockey firsthand, as well as the Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge in Dallas, PA.

Registration for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins GOAL IN ONE Golf Tournament, presented by GWC Warranty, is $1000.00 per foursome.  Spots are extremely limited.  To reserve your team’s spot in the tournament, contact the Penguins at 570-208-5425, or email Shari Zbegner at szbegner@wbspenguins.com for more information.

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

MIKE SULLIVAN TOPS GUEST LIST AT GOAL IN ONE GOLF TOURNAMENT


Stanley Cup winning head coach Mike Sullivan will headline a stellar group of guests at the 2017 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins GOAL IN ONE Golf Tournament, presented by GWC Warranty.

The two-day event will feature a VIP reception at the Westmoreland Club on Sunday, July 16, followed by the 18-hole, captain and crew format tournament at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club on Monday, July 17. Golfers will be treated to continental breakfast, lunch on the course, hors d’oeuvres and a pig roast dinner, as well as an open bar during the meal, and a special gift for each participant.



In addition to Sullivan, who spent part of the 2015-16 season behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton bench and has guided the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive season, the tournament will feature several other current and former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaches.

Current New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes, as well as Devils assistant Alain Nasreddine, will be on hand, as will Glenn Patrick, who guided the team during its first four seasons. Current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaches Clark Donatelli, Chris Taylor and J.D. Forrest, will participate as well.

More names will be added to the lineup in the near future.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Penguins GOALS Foundation, which provides young people and families with the opportunity to experience the game of hockey firsthand, as well as the Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge in Dallas, PA.

Registration for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins GOAL IN ONE Golf Tournament, presented by GWC Warranty, is $1000.00 per foursome, and is open now. To reserve your team’s spot in the tournament, contact the Penguins at 570-208-5425, or email Shari Zbegner at szbegner@wbspenguins.com for more information.

SIX EYES ARE BETTER THAN FOUR

For the first time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins history, a head coach will be flanked by two assistants on the bench.

Clark Donatelli will be joined on the bench during the season by new assistant coaches Chris Taylor and J.D. Forrest. Both men have been active in individual instruction with players through the early goings of Penguins training camp. Day two of camp saw Taylor and Forrest take the reins on several drills, as well, so that Donatelli could work with a different sect of players elsewhere on the ice.

The three-man coaching unit already appears to be meshing quite well, and the same could be said for Forrest’s move to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Forrest rolled into Wilkes-Barre for the first time in early August to scout the area and has had a smooth adjustment to his family’s new home ever since.

“This is a nice area, we like our spot,” Forrest said. “School’s been awesome, the kids are adjusting well. The organization makes it really easy.”

Forrest makes a point to mention school, because as a father of a six-year-old daughter who only knew a European education system during Forrest’s days coaching in Austria, he and his wife Sarah weren’t sure how she would handle the whirlwind of changes.

“My oldest, Madison, she’s going to an American school for the first time,” Forrest said. “We were a little worried about that, but it’s been smooth. The whole thing’s been great.”

On the other hand, Taylor has been all go, go, go in terms of work and hasn’t had much time to hit the brakes and explore Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“No, not really” Taylor said with a smile. “My biggest concern so far has been getting comfortable at the rink, getting to know everybody from the players to the office staff. We’re trying to get everything organized with our video, practices, and just making sure we’re on top of our game.”

In fact, Taylor has been grinding away in the coaches’ office so much, he hasn’t even had the opportunity for anyone to show him around for some good eats. He is completely clueless when it comes to all things NEPA right now.

“I haven’t been out on the town yet,” Taylor said. “Hopefully, I will soon.”

Somebody get this man some Old Forge pizza, stat.

Taylor and the rest of the coaching staff’s preparation has led to high-paced practices that has had the players at Penguins training camp sweating bullets as they try and shed the rust from the off-season. Seeing the intensity of the practices has brought back fond memories of Forrest’s playing days, but with an added bonus.

“It’s exciting at first,” Forrest said. “Getting back on the ice and getting that feeling, it’s not too different from being a player, except now I don’t have to worry about being in such great shape.”