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 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

PENGUINS PODCAST W/ CHRISTIAN THOMAS

Fresh back from his trip to the Karjala Tournament in Finland, a tired and jet-lagged Christian Thomas gutted out a podcast appearance with Obie and Nick. They get in depth on alien abduction, top 3 arena appearances and skating on either side of the WBS/Hershey rivalry.

Nick and Obie also take stock of the Penguins as the team extends its point streak to 10 games.

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