LEIGHTON LOOKING TO STOP PUCKS FOR, NOT AGAINST, PENGUINS


Michael Leighton is one of the most accomplished goaltenders in American Hockey League history, and most notably holds the league’s record for career shutouts with 50.

Much to the chagrin of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans, six of those clean sheets have come against the Penguins.

But after being acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins via trade this week, Leighton is now looking forward to stopping pucks for club instead of against it.

“I always liked playing against this team and in the [Mohegan Sun Arena].  I always felt comfortable,” Leighton said after his first practice with the Penguins on Wednesday morning.  “Hopefully I can turn that around and help the team win.”

A well-traveled veteran, Leighton suited up for eight eight AHL teams, as well as four NHL clubs, between 2001 and the end of the 2016-17 season.  But his hockey odyssey this season has been nothing short of frustrating for the native of Petrolia, Ontario.

Leighton signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the summer, and was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch to start the 2017-18 season.

After appearing in nine games with the Crunch, Leighton was traded with forward Tye McGinn to the Arizona Coyotes on November 14.

But his travels didn’t stop in the desert southwest.

With the Coyotes’ minor league club, the Tucson Roadrunners, already with two goaltenders, Leighton was loaned out to the Chicago Wolves, who were short on pucks toppers due to a rash of injuries with their parent club, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Leighton filled a gap in Chicago, playing in five games with the Wolves between November 21 and December 10.  But, with Vegas’ goaltending situation returning to near normal, Max Legace was reassigned to Chicago, making Leighton the odd man out once again.

He was returned to Arizona, but never pulled on a game sweater for the Roadrunners.

“They were just looking to trade me the whole time,” Leighton said.  “I was doing a lot of sitting around, not practicing much, kind of just waiting for a trade to happen.”

That move finally came on Tuesday, when Pittsburgh sent Josh Archibald, second-year goaltender Sean Maguire and a sixth round draft pick to Arizona in exchange for Leighton and a future fourth-round pick.  That has opened the door for the 17th year pro to play a prominent role with the Penguins.

At 36-years old, Leighton would be the oldest player on most teams in the AHL.  But, with Penguins captain Tom Kostopoulos clocking in at 38, Leighton is happy to deflect some of the ‘old man’ jokes from his teammates.

“I’m actually really excited.  I’ve been the oldest guy on my team for a little while now,” he laughed when the subject was brought up.  “I played with Tommy in Carolina a long time ago, so it’s good to see a friendly face.”

But Kostopoulos isn’t the only player Leighton is familiar with inside the Coal Street locker room.  He’s also played alongside Ryan Haggerty (Rockford IceHogs), Tom Sestito (Adirondack Phantoms), and even Penguins assistant coach J.D. Forrest (Albany River Rats) during his AHL career.

“It’s difficult coming in meeting 25 new guys,” he said. “So to have a couple of friendly faces you’ve played with or at least played against, they know you, it makes it a lot better.”


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Dec. 22 against the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop for the first meeting of the season between the Penguins and Devils 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 22-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

PITTSBURGH ACQUIRES GOALTENDER MICHAEL LEIGHTON

Photo Courtesy Chicago Wolves

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired goaltender Michael Leighton and a 2019 fourth-round draft pick from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Josh Archibald, goalie Sean Maguire and a 2019 sixth-round draft pick, it was announced today by Penguins executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

The 2019 fourth-round draft pick acquired by the Penguins originally belonged to the Minnesota Wild.

Leighton, who is signed to a two-way contract worth $650,000 at the NHL level, will report to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.

Leighton, 36, has split this season between the Arizona Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning organizations, spending time at the AHL level with the Syracuse Crunch and Chicago Wolves. He has played in a combined 14 AHL games this year, going 4-4-4 with one shutout.

A native of Petrolia, Ontario, Leighton is a five-time AHL All-Star who broke into professional hockey with the Norfolk Admirals back in 2001-02. Since then, he has won 20 games at the AHL level six times. During the 2007-08 campaign, Leighton was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Year while playing for the Albany River Rats.

Leighton has played in 110 career NHL games with Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia and Carolina. He played parts of three seasons with the Hurricanes from 2007-10 when Rutherford was Carolina’s GM.

Leighton backstopped the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2011 Stanley Cup Final appearance, going 8-3 with three shutouts in the postseason. He was originally drafted by Chicago in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 1999 NHL Draft.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Dec. 22 against the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop for the first meeting of the season between the Penguins and Devils 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 22-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

NAILERS NEWS – December 19, 2017


The Wheeling Nailers posted a 2-1-0-0 mark last week, and currently sit in second place in the ECHL’s North Division with a 15-10-2-0 record.  Here’s a look at the latest team info in our NAILERS NEWS feature.


RECENT ACTION

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12 vs. INDY (3-2 WIN):  Troy Josephs netted the decisive goal at 6:29 of the third period, leading the Nailers to a one-goal victory against the Fuel.  Freddie Tiffels and Cam Brown staked Wheeling to a two goal lead, before Indy rallied late in the second frame for a pair of goals just 55 seconds apart.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15 at READING (4-0 Loss):  The Nailers suffered their first shutout of the season in the opener of a two-game set against the Royals.  The result wasn’t for lack of trying, however, as Wheeling peppered Reading goalie Mark Dekanich with 50 shots.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16 at READING (4-2 WIN):  Wheeling bounced back for a road win against the Royals.  After a quiet first 39 minutes, Kevin Schulze opened the scoring with 42 seconds remaining in the second period.  Wheeling extended the lead to 3-0 on third period tallies by Reid Gardiner and Troy Josephs, before Reading stuck twice.  Cody Wydo’s empty netted capped the win for the visitors.


THE WEEK AHEAD

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22 & SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23 vs. BRAMPTON:  The Nailers head into the holiday with a pair of games on home ice against their North Division foes.  The Beast sits in fifth place in the six team division with a 12-10-1-2 record, but have won four of their past five contests.  The clubs split their first two meetings on Oct. 22 and 27 in Brampton.


LEAGUE LEADERS

The NAILERS lead the entire ECHL with a  22.6% conversion rate on the power play (26 goals/115 attempts).

CODY WYDO is ninth in the ECHL with 30 points, tied for 13th with 17 assists, tied for eighth with 13 goals.

GARRETT MEURS is tied for 17th in the league with 25 points and tied for 14th with 12 goals.

REID GARDINER is tied for 17th in the ECHL with 25 points and tied for 14th with 12 goals.  Gardiner also ranks second among ECHL rookies in points and goals.

DEREK ARMY is tied for fourth with five power play goals.

CAM BROWN is tied for third in the ECHL with 20 assists.  He also ranks third among league rookies in points (24) and leads first year players in assists.

NICK SORKIN is tied for 13th in the league with 17 assists.

HUNTER FEJES is tied for eighth in the ECHL with 13 goals and tied for 11th with four power play goals


NAILERS NOTES

TROY JOSEPHS has three goals in six games since joining the Nailers earlier this month, including a pair of game-winning goals.  Josephs began the season sidelined after off season surgery.

The NAILERS’ first goal last Tuesday against Indy was the team’s 6,000th all-time.

WHEELING’S game on Friday night in Reading was the 1,800th game in team history.


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

PENS AND PINS RETURNING JANUARY 7


Come on out and join the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for their ninth annual Pens and Pins Bowling Tournament, benefitting the Penguins GOALS Foundation.

Fans will get the chance to bowl with one of their favorite Penguins players while raising money for charity.

Registration is just $50 for individual or $200 for a team of five, and includes two rounds of bowling with your player (randomly selected), shoe rental, a free Pens and Pins T-shirt, plus pizza and soda for all bowlers.

For more information, or to register, call the Penguins at 570-208-7367.


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

FESTIVUS CELEBRATION DECEMBER 23


We’re pulling the aluminum pole out of the crawlspace and setting it up for our first ever Festivus Celebration on Saturday night, December 23, when we face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 5:05pm (SPECIAL START TIME).

Penguins players will be airing their grievances with the Phantoms while donning these special Festivus inspired sweaters, which will be auctioned off during the game.

Be sure to stop and have your photo taken with the Festivus pole on the concourse (we find tinsel distracting), and enjoy the feats of strength the Pens will be performing on the ice.

The first 4,000 fans in attendance will also receive the third in our series of four Penguins Trading Card Strips, featuring five Pens players plus a voucher good for a free treat from Grotto Pizza.

Get your tickets for Saturday night’s game at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online through TicketMaster.com or by calling the Penguins at 570-208-7367.

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

PREVIEW: PENGUINS AT WOLF PACK – DECEMBER 15, 2017


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins begin a weekend swing through Connecticut when they face off with the Hartford Wolf Pack tonight at 7:15pm.

The Penguins (15-7-1-1, 32 pts, .667%) currently hold down second place in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division, while the Wolf Pack (10-12-3-2, 25 pts, .463%) sit in seventh place in the eight team division.

Tonight’s game is the second of six meetings between the clubs this season.


TIME: 7:15 p.m.
PLACE: XL Center
WATCH: AHLLive.com
LISTEN: WILK News Radio


SEASON SERIES

 DATE  ROAD  HOME  TIME/RESULT
 Saturday, October 21  Hartford  WBS  3-2 SOW
 Friday, December 15  WBS  Hartford  7:15pm
 Friday, December 29  Hartford  WBS  7:05pm
 Sunday, January 21  WBS  Hartford  5:00pm
 Saturday, March 17  Hartford  WBS  7:05pm
 Friday, March 30  WBS  Hartford  7:15pm

RECENT ACTION

The Penguins recorded five consecutive goals to overcame a 3-1 deficit and post a 6-3 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds on Wednesday night. Daniel Sprong scored twice for the Pens, upping his team-leading goal total to 14 on the season. Greg McKegg and Pat McGrath each recorded their first AHL goals of the season, and Andrey Pedan and Ryan Haggerty recorded a goal and an assist each. Casey DeSmith recorded his 10th win of the season in net.

Hartford jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then hung on to post a 5-3 victory over the Thunderbirds last Sunday. Vinni Lettieri led the offense for the Wolf Pack, posting two goals and adding an assist. It was the first two-goal game of the rookie forward’s career.


PENGUINS NOTES

Daniel Sprong is tied for fifth among rookies with 21 points, leads all first-year players with 14 goals and is tied for first with seven power play tallies. Sprong is tied for second among all AHL skaters in goals scored and power play goals.

Forward Ryan Haggerty has recorded 10 goals in his first 14 games this season. He netted 11 in 58 games with the Penguins last year. His plus-12 rating leads all Penguins skaters.

Casey DeSmith returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this week, and recorded his 10th AHL victory this year with his 24 save performance against the Thunderbirds on Wednesday. His 10 wins are tied for firth in the league.


WOLF PACK NOTES

Hartford is currently on a five-game point streak (3-0-1-1). Four of their past five games have been decided in extra time (one in overtime, three in a shootout).

The Wolf Pack holds the fourth ranked power play in the league with a 20.5% success rate (24 PPG/117 chances).

Vinni Lettieri is tied for 12th overall and tied for fourth among AHL rookies with 11 goals. Lettieri is also tied for fifth overall and third among rookies with six power play goals.

Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev is third in the league in minutes played with 1030:08.


CONNECTIONS

Penguins defenseman Chris Summers spent parts of three seasons (2014-17) with the Wolf Pack, recording 24 points (7+16) in 161 games with the team.

Penguins forward Ryan Haggerty broke into the AHL with Hartford in 2014-15, posting 33 points (15+18) in 76 games with the club.

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

FUNDRAISER FOR CHRIS HALLOCK


Chris Hallock is a Scranton police officer, a husband, and a new father to an eight week old boy named Giovanni.

He’s also recently been diagnosed with AML FT3, an acute type of leukemia.

The son-in-law of Penguins team store manager John Zaino, Chris is currently being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and is expected to undergo treatment for at least a year, if not longer.

We’re looking to help with Chris’ medical expenses through a pair of special fundraisers from the team.

First, we have a special ticket plan set up for our game on Saturday, December 23 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.  By purchasing through this offer, we’ll donate $4 for every ticket purchased back to the Hallock family’s medical fund.

The Penguins will also be selling special Leukemia awareness t-shirts at the game that night, as well as in the team store located inside the Toyota SportsPlex on Coal Street.  Proceeds from the shirt sale will be donated to the medical fund as well.

Ticket packages are available in the Blue, Gold or Red Zones, and start at just $17.50, which includes the $4 donation back to Chris and his family.

To order tickets for the game, call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367, or simply fill in the form below.


PREVIEW: PENGUINS vs THUNDERBIRDS – DECEMBER 13, 2017


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Springfield Thunderbirds meet for the first of four meetings this season on Wednesday, December 13.

The Penguins (14-7-1-1, 30 pts, .652%) sit in third place in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division, while the Thunderbirds (10-17-1-0, 21 pts, .375%) hold down eighth place.

TIME: 7:05 p.m.
PLACE: Mohegan Sun Arena
WATCH: AHLLive.com
LISTEN: WILK News Radio
TICKETS: 570-208-7367 or at the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office


SEASON SERIES

 DATE  ROAD  HOME  TIME/RESULT
 Wednesday, December 13  Springfield  WBS  7:05pm
 Friday, January 5  Springfield  WBS  7:05pm
 Wednesday, February 7  WBS  Springfield  7:05pm
 Friday, April 13  WBS  Springfield  7:05pm

 


RECENT ACTION

The Penguins posted a 4-1 victory over the Hershey Bears on Sunday afternoon at the Giant Center. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton got first period goals from Christian Thomas, Daniel Sprong and Thomas Di Pauli en route to the win. Zach Trotman tallied a third period marker as well, and Sean Maguire made 18 saves for his first AHL victory this season.

The Thunderbirds suffered a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday afternoon. The defeat saw Springfield’s December record fall to 1-4-0-0.


PENGUINS NOTES

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s nine home wins are tied for third in the AHL, behind only the Providence Bruins and Rockford IceHogs 10 apiece.

Daniel Sprong is tied for seventh in the league with 12 goals and tied for second with seven power play goals. Those numbers also tie him for first place in both categories among rookie skaters.

Sprong is also tied for sixth among rookies with 19 points.

Thomas DiPauli’s eight goals place him in a tie for eighth among rookies,


THUNDERBIRDS NOTES

Springfield’s road record is just 2-10-1-0 (5 pts, .192%), placing the team 30th in the 30 team league in the category. The Thunderbirds are averaging less than two goals per game when away from the Mass Mutual Center (25 goals in 13 games).

The Thunderbirds are the most penalized team in the AHL with 479 penalty minutes.

Alexandre Grenier leads the Thunderbirds and is tied for 11th in the league with 23 points. His 16 assists are tied for 10th overall.


CONNECTIONS

Forward Bobby Farnham spent parts of three seasons (2012-15) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 39 points (17+22) and 666 penalty minutes in 191 games.

Defenseman Tim Erixon spent two seasons (2015-17) wit the Penguins, recording 37 points (7+30) in 119 games.

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

MURRAY ACTIVATED; DESMITH RETURNED


The Pittsburgh Penguins have activated goaltender Matt Murray from injured reserve and reassigned Casey DeSmith to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Murray, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, leads Pittsburgh with 11 wins in 21 games played this season. He has missed the past five games with a lower-body injury suffered on November 27 against Philadelphia.

DeSmith, 26, logged his first NHL action with Pittsburgh earlier this season. He made his NHL debut on October 29 in Winnipeg against the Jets.

The 6-foot-1, 181-pound DeSmith has compiled a 9-2-1 record, 2.29 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 12 AHL appearances this season.

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 32-9-4 with a 2.08 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and two shutouts in 47 career games.

Last season, DeSmith 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.

 

The Penguins’ next game is Wednesday, Dec. 13 against the Springfield Thunderbirds at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Puck drop between the Penguins and T-Birds is 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 22-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

PREVIEW: PENGUINS vs BEARS – DECEMBER 10, 2017


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins return to Hershey for the second consecutive Sunday to face the Bears at 5:00pm.

The Penguins (13-7-1-1, 28 pts, .636%) sit in third place in the extremely tight Atlantic Division standings, while the Bears (12-11-0-3, 27 points, .519%) place sixth in the eight team division.

Sunday’s contest is the fifth of 12 meetings between the teams this year.  The Penguins have a 2-0-1-1 record so far, while the Bears are 2-2-0-0 in the first four matchups.

TIME: 5:00 p.m.

PLACE: Giant Center

WATCH: AHLLive.com

LISTEN: WILK News Radio


SEASON SERIES

 DATE  ROAD  HOME  TIME/RESULT
 Friday, October 7  Hershey  WBS  3-2, Win
 Sunday, November 5  Hershey  WBS  3-2 SOL
 Sunday, November 12  WBS  Heshey  5-1 Win
 Sunday, December 3  WBS  Hershey  4-3 OTL
 Sunday, December 10  WBS  Hershey  5:00pm
 Saturday, December 30  WBS  Hershey  7:00pm
 Wednesday, January 24  WBS  Hershey  7:00pm
 Friday, February 2  Hershey  WBS  7:05pm
 Sunday, February 25  Hershey  WBS  3:05pm
 Sunday, March 18  Hershey  WBS  3:05pm
 Tuesday, April 3  Hershey  WBS  7:05pm
 Sunday, April 15  WBS  Hershe  3:05pm

RECENT ACTION

The Penguins dropped a tough 2-1 decision to the Charlotte Checkers on Friday night in Wilkes-Barre.  Daniel Sprong netted his team-leading 11th goal of the season, and Sean Maguire stopped 28 shots in his first AHL start this season.

The Bears defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 4-2 last night in Hershey.  Lucas Johansen, Chris Bourque, Garrett Mitchell and Tyler Graovac tallied for the home side, and Vitek Vanecek stopped 24 shots between the pipes.


PENGUINS NOTES

Daniel Sprong is tied for third among rookie skaters with 11 goals this season, and ranks second among first year players with six power play goals.  His 11 goals are tied for 10th among all AHL scorers, and his six power play goals are tied for third overall.

Thomas Di Pauli is tied for 13th among rookies with seven goals.


BEARS NOTES

Chris Bourque leads all AHL skaters with 32 points, is tied for second with 21 assists, tied for 10th with 11 goals and tied for fifth with five power play tallies.

Travis Boyd is tied for sixth with 17 assists.

Mathias Bau is tied for eighth among rookies with eight goals.


CONNECTIONS

Penguins forward Christian Thomas spent the 2016-17 season with the Bears, and led the team in goals (24) and power play goals (12).  His goals, assists (25) and points (49) totals were all career highs.

Bears center Zach Sill spent parts of five seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and ranks sixth on the team’s all-time list with 277 games played. Sill recorded 73 points (33+40) and 315 penalty minutes with the Penguins betweenez 2009 and 2014.

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