THOMAS TAKING TIME TO LOOK BACK ON BUSY SEASON


The hockey season can be a grind.  Training camps start in mid-September, the regular season runs through the middle of April, and if your team is lucky enough to experience the playoffs, you could be playing up through June.

Because so much happens over the course of the marathon, it’s difficult for even the most passionate supporter or studious player to recall everything that happened during a season.

How did they score on the power play in game 21? What was the rush that followed the hit post on a breakaway back in the first home game of the year? How many saves did the goalie make in Game 45? It all becomes a blur with so much going on over such an extended period.

It takes something truly remarkable to stand out when the season is all said and done. 

And even though he was the busiest member of the team this season, there’s no chance Christian Thomas will be forgetting the year he had in 2017-18.

Thomas signed on with the Penguins in mid-September, moving him only a short trip north from Hershey to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Little did he know that he would soon become a world traveler after being named to Canada’s men’s national team in December.

His international tour started with Canada’s participation in the Karjala Cup. He played in Switzerland and Finland during the event, which Hockey Canada used as sort of an evaluation tryout for future tournaments. Despite not logging big minutes, Thomas impressed Canadian coaches which earned him the invite to play for his country once again in the historic Spengler Cup Tournament over the December holiday period.

Not to be forgotten is that in between those events, Thomas did pretty well while lacing up for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Thomas ultimately recorded 18 goals for the Penguins, 15 of which came at five-on-five. Only Daniel Sprong scored more goals for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while the team was skating at five-on-five (19).

Then came the big one: The Winter Olympic Games. Thomas was named to Canada’s men’s hockey team, went to South Korea, and came back with a bronze medal, capturing his country its fourth medal in the men’s event in the last five Olympics.

“This will probably be one of the most memorable years of my life,” Thomas said. “I haven’t won a championship in a long time, so winning the Spengler Cup was cool. Then winning bronze at the Olympics is something that I’ll never forget. Never.”

All the travel and important games made a long season even longer for the 25-year-old forward. Although that lengthy campaign yielded a lot of success, he’s ready for a break.

“There was a lot going on,” Thomas said with an affirming smile. “I’ll definitely take a couple weeks off. I’ll head home, unwind, but then get right back into the workouts.”

He’s getting some much deserved time off, and maybe that will give him some time to reflect on everything he was able to accomplish. Not only should he feel his pride throughout this summer, but 20, 30, even 50 years down the line when his playing career is long over, Thomas will always have the fond memories of an unforgettable 2017-18 season.

“I got to win a Spengler Cup. I got to win a bronze medal at the Olympics. I can always say that.”

2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

CHRISTIAN THOMAS WINS BRONZE WITH TEAM CANADA


Christian Thomas is bringing a bronze back to northeast Pennsylvania.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward captured the bronze medal as part of the Canadian men’s ice hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Canada defeated the Czech Republic, 6-4, on Saturday to claim the medal, with former Penguins forward Andrew Ebbett (2013-15) picking up a pair of goals in the game.

Thomas appeared in all six of the Canadians’ contests, recording two points (1+1) and a plus-3 rating.  He tallied his goal in a 4-0 win over the Republic of Korea in group play.

In his first season with the Penguins, Thomas has recorded 21 points (12+9) in 30 AHL games this season.  The 25-year old from Toronto, Ontario has 177 career points (88+89) in 314 AHL contests with six teams.

The Penguins next home game is this Sunday, February 25, when they host the Hershey Bears at 3:05pm.  It’s another Kids Free Sunday, with fans ages 14 and younger able to get into the game for FREE with a paid adult ticket.

Get your tickets for Sunday by calling the Penguins at 570-208-7367.

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OLYMPICS ROUNDUP – QUALIFICATION GAMES GET UNDERWAY TONIGHT

Noah Welch and Team USA look to advance at the 2018 Winter Olympics when they face off with Slovakia Monday night.

Now the fun begins.

The second round of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics gets underway this evening, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The qualification round features the bottom eight finishers from the opening round of play battling it out to make it to the quarterfinals. The first place teams from group play (Sweden, Czech Republic and Olympic Athletes from Russia), as well as the top second place finisher (Canada), all receive byes into the third round of play.

The United States and Slovakia, who finished with identical 1-2-0 marks in the first round, will face off in the first game of qualification on Monday night at 10:10pm Eastern Time. The Americans downed Slovakia by a 2-1 score earlier in the tourney.

The full schedule for the qualification and quarterfinals rounds is:

OLYMPIC MEN’S ICE HOCKEY QUALIFICATION ROUND SCHEDULE

DATE TIME TEAM 1 TEAM 2
Monday, February 19 10:10pm USA – 5 Slovakia – 1
Tuesday, February 20 2:40am Slovenia – 1 Norway – 2 (OT)
Tuesday, February 20 7:10am Finland Korea
Tuesday, February 20 7:10am Switzerland Germany

OLYMPIC MEN’S ICE HOCKEY QUARTERFINALS SCHEDULE

DATE TIME TEAM 1 TEAM 2
Tuesday, February 20 10:10pm Czech Republic USA
Wednesday, February 21 2:40am OAR Norway
Wednesday, February 21 7:10am Canada TBD
Wednesday, February 21 7:10am Sweden TBD

ALUMNI UPDATE

Nine former and one current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins players are competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics.  Their stats through Group Play:

CANADA
Andrew Ebbett – 2gp, 0-1-1
Chris Lee – 3gp, 0-3-3
Christian Thomas, 3gp, 1-0-1

CZECH REPUBLIC
Ondrej Nemec – 3gp, 0-0-0

GERMANY
Matthias Plachta – 3gp, 0-0-0

SOUTH KOREA
Bryan Young – 3gp, 0-0-0

NORWAY
Patrick Thoresen – 3gp, 1-0-1

SLOVAKIA
Thomas Surovy – 3gp, 0-1-1

USA
Chad Kolarik – 2gp, 0-0-0
Noah Welch – 3gp, 0-0-0

FORMER PENS DOT OLYMPIC ROSTERS

The puck will drop at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games on Wednesday, February 14, with a pair of opening round games taking place at 7:10 am Eastern Time. And there will be no shortage of familiar faces for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans throughout the tournament.

In addition to current Penguins forward Christian Thomas, nine former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be pulling on jerseys for their national teams in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Here’s a quick look at theses blasts from the past with ties to our team.

CANADA

Andrew Ebbett (C) – The Canadian forward played parts of two seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2013-15), recording 84 points (30+54) in 88 games. Ebbett also played in 29 playoff games over the two seasons, and scored 15 points (3+12).

Ebbett appeared in 33 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in parts of two seasons (2013-2015), recording seven points (1+6).

The Vernon, BC native also spent time with the Binghamton Senators (2006-2007), Portland Pirates (2007-2008), Iowa Chops (2008-2009), San Antonio Rampage (2010-2011) and Chicago Wolves (2012-2013) in the AHL.

While in the NHL Ebbett suited up for the Anaheim Ducks (2007-2010), Chicago Blackhawks (2009-2010), Minnesota Wild (2009-2010), Phoenix Coyotes (2010-2011) and the Vancouver Canucks (2011-2013). In his eight NHL seasons, Ebbett totaled 224 games and 71 points (26+45).

Ebbett has spent the past three seasons in Switzerland with Bern SC. He currently he has 46 points (13+33) in 47 games with the club this season.

Chris Lee (D) – A journeyman defenseman, Lee spent his final North American season (2009-10) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 39 points (9+30) in 79 regular season game.

Prior to his time with the Penguins, Lee saw action with the Albany River Rats, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and the Iowa Stars in the AHL.

He ventured overseas starting in 2010-11, and for the past five seasons has been a mainstay on the blueline for Magnitogrosk Metallurg in the KHL. He finished second on the team in scoring last season with 65 points (14+51) in 60 games.

 


CZECH REPUBLIC

Ondrej Nemec (D) – Drafted 35th overall in the 2002 Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nemec played part of one season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2003-2004), appearing in seven games and scoring a total of three points (1+2).

After leaving the Penguins, the defenseman returned to Europe where he has played for 14 seasons in the Czech Extraleague and the Continental Hockey League. He currently plays for Brno Kometa in the Czech Republic, and has nine points (5+4) in 38 games.


GERMANY

Matthias Plachta (LW) – Plachta was acquired by the Penguins late in the 2015-16 season, and put up seven points (2+5) in 20 games with the club. He began his only AHL season with the Springfield Falcons, posting another seven points (2+5) in 46 contests.

Plachta returned to his native Germany after his brief foray into North American, and has suited up for the Mannheim Eagles for the past two seasons (as well as for six years before making the jump to the AHL). He currently ranks third on the team with 30 points (11+19) in 49 games.


NORWAY

Patrick Thoresen (LW) – An Edmonton Oilers signee, Thoresen appeared in five games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2006-07, posting six points (1+5) in his short stay with the team. He went on to appear in 29 AHL games with Springfield the following year, recording 26 points (13+13) with the club.

In the NHL, Thoresen combined for 24 points (6+18) in 106 games with the Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers (2006-08), before returning to Europe for the 2008-09 season.

He has spent the majority of the past 10 years with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL, with whom he currently plays.

The 2018 Games will be the third time Thoresen has represented his country at the Olympics (2010, 2014).


SLOVAKIA

Tomas Surovy (LW) – A fourth round selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Surovy spent parts of five seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2001-06), appearing in 239 regular season games with the club.  The left wing currently ranks second on the Penguins’ all-time lists in goals (89) and points (187); is tied for second in game-winning goals (14); and is fourth in power play goals (27).

Surovy appeared in 126 gams with the Pittsburgh Penguins between 2002-2006, posting 59 points (27+32) and 71 penalty minutes.  He has been playing professionally in Europe since the start of the 2006-07 season, and currently suits up for his hometown team, Banská Bystrica HC 05, in the Slovakian Extraleague.

Surovy has previously represented Slovakia at the 2006 Turin and 2014 Sochi Games, recording two points (1+1) in 10 Olympic contests.  He is the seventh former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skater to be named to his national team for the 2018 Winter Olympics.


SOUTH KOREA

Bryan Young (D) – A fifth round draft pick (2004) of the Edmoton Oilers, Young appeared in 10 games with the Penguins in 2006-07, recording one assist. He spent the majority of his time in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons (2007-10), and also appeared in 22 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (2006-07).

Young appeared in 17 games with Edmonton over two seasons (2006-08), going scoreless with 10 penalty minutes.

Following the 2009-10 season, Young took his game to South Korea, and has recorded 192 points (39+153) in 283 games with Gangwon High1 and the Daemyung Killer Whales, with whom he currently plays. He became a naturalized citizen of South Korea in 2014, allowing him to represent the country this year.


TEAM USA

Chad Kolarik (C) – The Abington, PA native spent one season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2012-13), in which he appeared in 35 regular season games, recording 33 points. He also suited up in 15 playoff games, scoring 11 points.

Before joining the Penguins, Kolarik spent time with the San Antonio Rampage (2007-10), the Syracuse Crunch (2009-10), the Springfield Falcons (2010-11) and the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale (2010-11, 2012-13) in the AHL.  He also appeared in six NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers, recording one assist.

The former seventh round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004 has spent the past five season playing in Europe. He currently plays in Germany with the Mannheim Eagles, and has 44 points in 44 games this season.

Noah Welch (D) – The Boston, MA native was drafted 54th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2001. Welch spent parts of two seasons with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2005-2007) during which he appeared in 104 games, scoring 50 points. An AHL All-Star in 2007, Welch also saw action with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2005-2007), playing in 27 games and recording six points.

The former second round pick also suited up with the Rochester Americans (2006-2007, 2008-2009) and Chicago Wolves (2009-2011) in the AHL, as well as the Florida Panthers (2006-2009), Tampa Bay Lightning (2008-2009) and the Atlanta Thrashers (2010-2011) in the NHL. Welch totaled 75 games in the NHL and nine points

Welch has been playing in Europe for the past seven seasons. He currently plays in Sweden with the Vaxjo HC and has appeared in 26 games this season.


The schedule for the preliminary round, which features all 12 nations participating in round robin play within their three groups, is listed below.  For a full explanation of the remaining schedule, seeding and rules, visit the International Ice Hockey Federation website.

OLYMPIC MEN’S ICE HOCKEY QUALIFYING PRELIMINARY ROUND SCHEDULE

DATE TIME GROUP TEAM 1 TEAM 2
Wednesday, February 14 7:10am B Slovakia OAR*
Wednesday, February 14 7:10am B USA Slovenia
Wednesday, February 14 10:10pm C Finland Germany
Thursday, February 15 2:40am C Norway Sweden
Thursday, February 15 7:10am A Czech Republic South Korea
Thursday, February 15 7:10am A Switzerland Canada
Thursday, February 15 10:10pm B USA Slovakia
Friday, February 16 2:40am B Slovenia OAR*
Friday, February 16 7:10am C Norway Finland
Friday, February 16 7:10am C Sweden Germany
Friday, February 16 10:10pm A Czech Republic Canada
Saturday, February 17 2:40am A Switzerland South Korea
Saturday, February 17 7:10am B USA OAR*
Saturday, February 17 7:10am B Slovakin Slovenia
Saturday, February 17 10:10pm C Norway Germany
Sunday, February 18 2:40am A Switzerland Czech Republic
Sunday, February 18 7:10am A Canada South Korea
Sunday, February 18 7:10am C Finland Sweden

* = Olympic Athletes from Russia

CHRISTIAN THOMAS NAMED TO CANADIAN OLYMPIC TEAM


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Christian Thomas has been announced by Hockey Canada as part of Canada’s roster for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics.

The Toronto, Ontario native has nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in 23 games with the Penguins this season. Thomas has also represented Canada twice on the international stage twice in the last two months, participating in the Karjala Cup in November and emerging victorious at the Spengler Cup in December.

“It’s a dream come true,” Thomas said. “You never believe growing up that you’ll have the chance or an opportunity to play in an Olympics. It’s just a great opportunity.”

A second-round pick by the New York Rangers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Thomas has played in 334 professional games, including 27 in the NHL as a member of the Rangers and Montréal Canadiens. The 25-year-old forward has 173 points (85G-88A) in 307 career AHL games.



The preliminary round of the men’s hockey tournament at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea begins on Saturday, Feb. 10. Thomas and the rest of Team Canada will play their first game on Sunday, Feb. 11 against Russia, then proceed to face-off against the likes of the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland and the United States in the group stage. The gold medal game for men’s hockey at this year’s Olympics will be held on Sunday, Feb. 25.

The Penguins’ next game is tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 12, as they travel north of the border to Thomas’ home country to take on the Belleville Senators. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Wednesday, Jan. 17 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop between the Penguins and Phantoms 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.

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Would you like more info on tickets for any of our upcoming FAN FRIDAY games? Simply fill in your contact info below, and a Penguins ticket representative will contact you within 48 hours.

FORMER PENS WELCH, KOLARIK NAMED TO USA OLYMPIC SQUAD

Noah Welch played parts of two seasons (2005-07) with the Penguins, and represented the team at the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic.

Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Noah Welch and forward Chad Kolarik were named to the 2018 United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team on Monday.  The tournament, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea from February 9-25, will be the first since the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway, not to feature National Hockey League players.

TEAM USA ROSTER

Welch, 35, was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round (54th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.  He spent parts of two seasons (2005-07) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 50 points (14+36) in 104 games.

A native of Brighton, MA, Welch was voted a starter for the PlanetUSA All-Star Team at the 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba while with the Penguins.  He has appeared in 209 AHL games with the Penguins, Rochester Americans and Chicago Wolves, recording 77 points (19+58).

Welch appeared in 27 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins between 2005-07, recording six points (2+4), before being traded to the Florida Panthers for Gary Roberts.  He appeared in 75 NHL games with the Penguins, Panthers, Tampa Bay Lighting and Atlanta Thrashers, recording nine points (4+5) and 58 penalty minutes.

For the past seven seasons, Welch has been playing in Sweden, and currently is a member of Vaxjo HC.

Chad Kolarik recorded 33 points in 35 games with the Penguins during the 2012-13 season.

Kolarik, 31, was acquired by the Penguins from the New York Rangers for Benn Ferriero on January 24, 2013.  He appeared in 35 regular season games with the Penguins that year, posting 33 points (15+18), and added 11 points (5+^) in 15 Calder Cup Playoff games for the team.

The Abington, PA native spent parts of five seasons in the AHL with the Penguins, San Antonio Rampage, Syracuse Crunch, Springfield Falcons, Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale, recording 209 points (98+111) in 277 games.  Kolarik also appeared in six NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers, recording one assist.

Kolarik has been playing overseas for the past five seasons, and currently leads the Mannheim Eagles (Germany) with 31 points (19+12) in 32 games this season.

Team USA’s Olympic schedule features preliminary-round play against Slovenia at 7:10 a.m. ET on Feb. 14 from the Kwandong Hockey Centre; Slovakia at 10:10 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre; and Olympic Athletes from Russia at Gangneung at 7:10 a.m. on Feb. 17.

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CHRISTIAN THOMAS TO PLAY FOR TEAM CANADA IN SPENGLER CUP


Christian Thomas will get another chance to showcase his skills in an effort to make the Canadian Olympic Team, after being selected to Team Canada’s entry in the Spengler Cup tournament today.

The 91st incarnation of the Spengler Cup will feature four European club teams – HC Davos (Switzerland), Dinamo Riga (Latvia), HPK Hameenlinna (Finland) and Mountfield HK (Czech Republic) – as well as international teams from Switzerland and Canada.  The tournament takes place between Dec. 26-31 in Davos.

“It’s exciting, and I’m excited to go there,” Thomas said.  “Unfortunately I have to miss some games here.  The team in Pittsburgh and here in Wilkes-Barre have been awesome in letting me play in the tournaments.”

Canada is using this year’s tournament as a final opportunity to take a look at potential players for their Olympic team.  While the Winter Olympics have featured National Hockey League players suiting up for their home countries since 1998, this year’s tournament will not feature skaters from the world’s top league, due to an impasse between the NHL and the International Olympic Committee.

However, players participating in European leagues are eligible to participate in the Olympics, as are North American collegiate skaters, and those signed to American Hockey League only contracts.  Thomas falls into that latter set.

The Penguins forward suited up for Team Canada earlier this year at the Karjala Cup tournament, which was held in Sweden, Switzerland and Finland.  Thomas potted one goal in three games during the competition.

The Spengler Cup will give him one more chance to show off his skill in an effort to earn a spot on Team Canada when it heads to South Korea in February.

“It’s really cool.  I’m excited to go out there and show them the way I can play, and work hard,” he said. “Hopefully that’s enough to earn me a spot.”


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.


2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information

THOMAS SHOOTING FOR OLYMPIC DREAM

Christian Thomas is off to a solid start to the season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, posting six points (2+4) through the team’s first eight games.

But the speedy left wing won’t be in the team’s lineup for it’s upcoming three-game home stand.

No, Thomas isn’t being benched or disciplined.  He’ll actually be overseas shooting for a spot with the Canadian Olympic team.

Thomas is among the players who will be skating for his home country in the Karjala Cup, an annual tournament being held in Sweden, Switzerland and Finland starting on November 8.  This year’s competition is being used as a proving ground for potential Olympians from six countries.

“I never would have thought I would have a chance to play U-17, U-18 as a young hockey player,” said Thomas, who has previously represented his country while a junior player.  “This tournament here, as a good evaluation for the Olympics, is three games.  Just play your best and maybe you can wear that Canada jersey in the Olympics.”

The Winter Olympics have featured National Hockey League players suiting up for their home countries since 1998.  But when the NHL and International Olympic Committee could not come to an agreement for the upcoming Games, which are being held in South Korea, a door was opened for a new group of skaters to take part.

Players participating in European leagues are eligible to participate in the Olympics, as are North American collegiate skaters, and those signed to American Hockey League only contracts.  Thomas is the lone player currently suiting up in the AHL on Canada’s roster.

“I was talking to my agent about it, that I would have a chance  [to make the Olympics] this summer, signing an AHL deal,” said Thomas.  “I got a call from Sean Burke [Team Canada General Manager], and he asked if I would like to join the tournament.  He just needed the go ahead from Pittsburgh to allow me to miss some games here.  I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Now, just three months from the start of the Pyeongchang Games, Thomas has a chance to live out a dream.

“To represent your country is pretty special,” said Thomas.  “This year having that rule with the NHL players not being allowed to participate really helps out.  But just to be able to put on the Canada jersey is pretty cool.”

NOTES:  Team Canada’s schedule at the Karjala Cup features games against Switzerland (Wednesday, November 8), Sweden (Friday, November 10) and Finland (Sunday, November 12)…Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Andrew Ebbett, Chris Lee and Simon Despres are also on Team Canada’s roster.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ next home game will be on Sunday, Nov. 5, and once again they’ll take on the Hershey Bears. Puck drop for the Sunday matinée between the two bitter rivals is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

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.

2018-19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Season Ticket Information