STANLEY CUP CONNECTIONS

They did it again.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship on Sunday, June 11, defeating the Nashville Predators, 2-0, to keep the treasured trophy in the Steel City for another year.

In a few weeks, the Cup will see the names of more than four dozen Penguins players, coaches and support staffers etched onto its base.  And, as in both the 2009 and 2016 championship seasons, there will be no shortage of connections to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins there.

Twelve Pittsburgh Penguins players who qualify to have their names on the chalice have played at least one game with the AHL Penguins.  Kris Letting and Marc-Andre Fleury become the first three-time champions to pass through Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Matt Murray, Tom Kuhnhackl, Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta have been members of both of the Pens back-to-back teams.

Joining that group of repeat winners are newbies Carter Rowney, Jake Guentzel, Josh Archibald and Scott Wilson.  Wilson was a member of Pittsburgh’s Cup run last spring, but due to injuries and a lack of games played, did not qualify to have his name on the trophy.  Rowney, Guentzel and Archibald all spent parts of this season in NEPA.

Head coach Mike Sullivan spent part of the 2015-16 season guiding Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before being promoted to Pittsburgh, and is now the first head coach since the great Toe Blake in 1956 and 1957 to guide a team to Stanley Cups in his first two years behind an NHL bench.

Three other former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staffers figure to see their names written in hockey immortality for a second straight season as well.  Patrick Steidle spent more than a decade with his hometown team before joining Pittsburgh’s athletic training staff in 2013.  Jim Britt worked his way up from intern in Wilkes-Barre to his current position as the Pens team services manager.  And Andy Saucier parlayed two seasons as the AHL team’s video coach into the same position with Pittsburgh.

Players and coaches with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ties have been featured on the Stanley Cup in seven of the past nine seasons.  Here’s a year-by-year view of some names you probably know.

2017 (Pittsburgh Penguins):  Josh Archibald, Brian Dumoulin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jake Guentzel, Tom Kuhnhackl, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Matt Murray, Carter Rowney, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Scott Wilson, Mike Sullivan

2016 (Pittsburgh Penguins):  Brian Dumoulin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Tom Kuhnhackl, Kris Letang, Ben Lovejoy, Olli Maatta, Matt Murray, Kevin Porter, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Jeff Zatkoff, Mike Sullivan

2015 (Chicago Blackhawks):  Daniel Carcillo, Michal Rozsival

2013 (Chicago Blackhawks):  Daniel Carcillo, Michal Rozsival

2012 (Los Angeles Kings):  Rob Scuderi

2011 (Boston Bruins):  Andrew Ference

2009 (Pittsburgh Penguins):  Marc-Andre Fleury, Alex Goligoski, Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Miroslav Satan, Rob Scuderi, Max Talbot, Dan Bylsma, Mike Yeo

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

WBS GRADS HAVING IMPACTS ON PITTSBURGH POSTSEASON

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue their quest for back-to-back Stanley Cups this Saturday night, when they host the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals.  And like last year, the Pens progress has been led by players with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pedigrees.

Lets start at the top – as in the top goal scorer.  Jake Guentzel, who began the season in NEPA, has rattled off an NHL-best nine goals in his first 12 playoff games.  Included in his performance was a postseason hat trick in Game Three against the Columbus Blue Jackets and a total of three game-winning goals.  One of those was the OT winner to cap the hat trick agains Columbus.

Guentzel has posted 14 points so far, which is good for fourth in NHL.  His most recent point –  an assist on Bryan Rust’s goal in Game Seven against the Washington Capitals – broke Pittsburgh’s record for rookie scoring in a postseason.  That mark was formerly held by Jaromir Jagr, who needed 24 games to hit that mark in 1991.

Speaking of Rust, he continues to show clutch play in the biggest games.  Rust recorded both goals in a 2-1, Game Seven win against the Tampa Bay Lightning last season to get the Pens to the Stanley Cup Finals, and followed that up by notching the series clinching against the Caps earlier this week.

Rust has five goals in 12 games this postseason, including a pair of game-winners. Three of his 11 career playoff goals have been GWGs.

On the other end of the rink, Marc-Andre Fleury has been the saving grace, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.55 goals against average and .927 save percentage.  He turned aside 29 shots in the finale against Washington, giving him nine shutouts in his Pittsburgh playoff career.

The two-time Stanley Cup winner is Pittsburgh’s all-time playoff leader among goalies in games (112), starts (110) and wins (61).

Six other skaters who saw regular play with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton have also suited up in the 2017 playoffs for Pittsburgh, including Conor Shear (11gp, 0-3-3), Tom Kuhnhackl (11gm, 1-1-2), Scott Wilson (8gp, 1-1-2), Brian Dumoulin (12gp, 0-2-2), Carter Rowney (7gp, 0-0-0) and Chad Ruhwedel (2gp, 0-0-0).  Both Rowney and Ruhwedel spent time in NEPA this season, and made their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts this year.

Pittsburgh and Ottawa will face off at PPG Arena on Saturday at 7:00pm and Monday at 8:00pm.  The series moves to Ottawa for Games Three (Wednesday) and Four (Friday).  Both of those contests are scheduled for 8:00pm starts.


Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season are on sale now.  Call the Penguins directly at 570-208-7367 to get yours, or fill in the form below, and a Penguins account executive will reach out to you.

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

PENGUINS ALUMNI REPORT

Pittsburgh Penguins forward CONOR SHEARY is on quite the hot streak lately, recording nine points over the past four games, and earning the NHL’s First Star of the Week award.

Sheary has picked up six goals and three assists during the Penguins’ current four-game winning streak.  He has three two-goal games and points in every contest, giving him his first four-game point streak at the NHL level.

The former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton skater has eight games during the month of January, tied for the most in the league, and currently ranks fourth on the Penguins with 34 points and third with 17 goals.

Sheary spent parts of three seasons playing in NEPA, recording 81 points (27+54) in 90 regular season games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.  As of Monday, the Winchester, MA native had totaled 44 points (24+20) in 83 games with Pittsburgh.

Here’s a look at WBS alumni currently on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster:

BRYAN RUST:  Currently skating on a line with Sheary and Sidney Crosby, Rust has put up 24 points (12+12) in 43 games with Pittsburgh.  The speedy winger is creeping up on 100 games with the NHL club (he currently sits at 98), and has produce 37 points (17+20) in parts of two seasons in the Burgh.

Rust totaled 33 points (16+17) in 63 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over parts of three campaigns.

SCOTT WILSON:  Wilson has 13 points (5+8) in 43 games this season with Pittsburgh, and 19 points (10+9) in 68 career games with the big club.

In parts of three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Wilson recorded 77 points (41+36). His 22 goals last season ranked third in the team, despite his appearing in only 34 games with WBS.

JAKE GUENTZEL:  The rookie forward has shown he’s ready for the bright lights of the NHL with seven points (4+3) in nine games with Pittsburgh.  He made an immediate impression, scoring on his first NHL shot during his debut on November 21 against the Rangers, and following that up with another tally later in the game.

Guentzel joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after his college schedule came to an end last year, and all he did was lead the Pens in playoff scoring (5+9=14 in 10 games).  He currently ranks second in the AHL with 21 goals and 42 points despite an extended stay with Pittsburgh.

TOM KUHNHACKL:  The German-born Kuhnhackl has found it difficult to crack the Pittsburgh lineup recently, appearing in just two games since December 16.  He has five points (2+3) in 25 games this season to go with 20 (7+13) in 67 games last year.

In parts of four seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Kuhnhackl picked up 59 points (29+30) in 154 games.

ON THE BLUELINE

STEVE OLEKSY has one assist in nine games with Pittsburgh this season, and has brought a physical edge to the blue line with 22 penalty minutes.  He has 23 points (3+20) in 73 career games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and led the club with 123 penalty minutes last year.

CHAD RUHWEDEL tallied his first NHL goal in his second game with Pittsburgh back on December 23, and has added two assists in nine games with the team.  His 16 points (4+12) in 28 games are second most among WBS defenders this season.

CAMERON GAUNCE picked up assists in his first two games after being recalled last week.  He had eight points (2+6) in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first 39 games this season.

BETWEEN THE PIPES:

MATT MURRAY:  Since returning from a two week stint on the medical report, Murray has appeared in five of the Penguins past six games, including each of the past four contests.  He’s posted a 4-1-0-0 mark in that time while allowing 14 goals.  Half of those came in an 8-7 OT victory against the Washington Capitals, and he’s only let in one goal in each of his past three appearances.  For the season, Murray has posted a 17-4-0 mark in 22 games with a 2.32 GAA and .923 save percentage.

Murray rewrote the AHL record books while with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 12 shutouts during the 2014-15 season, setting the league record for longest shutout streak (304:11) and earning the league’s top goaltender and rookie awards.  He posted a 45-20-4 mark in two-plus seasons.

MARC-ANDRE FLEURY:  The two-time Stanley Cup champion and former first overall draft pick has a 13-7-0 record this season, and holds a 370-213-67 mark with Pittsburgh all-time.

Fleury appeared in 71 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during parts of three seasons, posting a 39-23-4 record and 2.32 goals against average.

ON THE INJURY REPORT:

KRIS LETANG:  One of the NHL’s top puck moving defensemen, Letang had 23 points (4+19) in 30 games before suffering a lower body injury on January 14 against Detroit.   Letting has scored more points for Pittsburgh (375) than any other Wilkes-Barre/Scranton graduate.  He suited up for 10 games with WBS at the start of the 2007-08 season, recording seven points (1+6).

BRIAN DUMOULIN:  A fractured jaw has kept Dumoulin on the sidelines since December 27.  He had seven assists in 35 games prior to that this season.  He appeared in 188 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from 2012-15, posting 78 points (15+53).

GOODBYE TO ‘THE ROCK’

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The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins travel to Newfoundland for a pair of games against the St. John’s IceCaps this Saturday and Sunday and, barring a meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals, this will be the Pens’ final trip to ‘The Rock’.  The Ice Caps, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, are slated to relocate to Laval, Quebec next season, where they will be rechristened the Rocket.

The Penguins and IceCaps have forged a solid, if infrequent, rivalry since St. John’s reentered the league in 2011-12.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has dominated the regular season schedule, posting a 16-4-0-0 mark (including a 9-1-0-0 record at the Mile One Centre), while the IceCaps have recorded a pair of post-season series victories (2012, 2014).

As we prepare to take to the ice in the Maritimes one last time, here’s a look back at the highlights from the all-time series between the Penguins and IceCaps.

JANUARY 14, 2012:  The first ever meeting between the clubs saw a combined 10 goals, as the Penguins posted a 6-4 win in Newfoundland.  Bryan Lerg led the way with three points (2+1) for the Penguins, while captain Ryan Craig recorded a pair of goals himself.  Ben Street scored on a second period penalty shot against David Aebischer, while Brad Thiessen stopped an attempt by Carl Klingberg in the third period.  Street’s goal was one of three shorthanded tallies in the game by the Penguins.

JANUARY 15, 2012:  Ben Street scored 1:33 into overtime to give the Penguins a 4-3 win.  Bryan Lerg netted his second shorthanded goal in as many games.

MAY 8, 2012:  Simon Despres scored 12:08 into the second overtime, giving the Penguins a 3-2 win in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Wilkes-Barre.  The victory extended the series and sent the team’s back to St. John’s for Game Six.  The Pens would win that contest, 4-2, and force a Game Seven, in which the IceCaps prevailed.

JANUARY 23, 2013:  Brad Thiessen made 26 saves as the Penguins posted a 3-0 shutout in Wilkes-Barre.  Alex Grant, Philip Samuelsson (now with the IceCaps) and Riley Holzapfel recorded first period goals.

APRIL 13, 2013:  Jeff Zatkoff matched Thiessen’s earlier effort, stopping 18 shots for another 3-0 shutout, this one taking place in St. John’s.  Dominik Her recorded a pair of goals for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Bobby Farnham (also a current St. John’s skater) picked up a pair of assists.

APRIL 14, 2013:  Chad Kolarik notched the OT winner at 2:09 of the extra frame to complete a hat trick, as the Penguins posted a 5-4 win.

NOVEMBER 23, 2013:  Five different Penguins posted third period goals as the home team posted a 5-2 win.  Tom Kostopoulos and Bobby Farnham each had a goal and an assist in the game.

MAY 31, 2014:  One of the most famous goals in recent Penguins history.  Zach Sill scored with 16 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Penguins the lead in what would go on to be a 4-2 victory in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final in Wilkes-Barre.  Chuck Kobasew tied the game at 2-2 with 7:30 left in the third – on what has simply become know as ‘The Shift’ in Penguins lore – and his empty net goal with seven seconds to play lit fireworks which saw 11 players handed misconduct penalties.  The win forced a Game Six in St. John’s, which the IceCaps won, 5-0, giving the team it’s first trip to the Calder Cup Final.

OCTOBER 17, 2014:  Reid McNeill scored at 2:56 of overtime to give the Penguins a 2-1 road win, and their first victory of the season.

NOVEMBER 29, 2014:  Matt Murray stopped 22 shots for his second shutout of the season, and Jean-Sebastien Dea recorded the lone goal as the Pens posted a 1-0 win in NEPA.

NOVEMBER 4, 2015:  Tom Kuhnhackl recorded two goals and an assist, Jean-Sebastien Dea picked up four points (1+3) and the Penguins posted a 5-2 win in Wilkes-Barre.  Will O’Neill recorded three assists against his former team, and Matt Murray stopped 41 shots.

JANUARY 13, 2016:  The IceCaps took a 3-2 lead into the second period, and extended that to 4-2, before the Penguins rattled off four straight goals to post a 6-4 win in St. John’s.  Scott Wilson (1+2), Conor Shear (1+2) and Derrick Pouliot (0+3) each had three points in the game.

The Penguins return home on Friday, December 9 when they play the Hershey Bears at 7:00pm.  It’s an Eyewitness News Fan Friday, with $14 lower bowl tickets, select draft beers for just $2 from 6-7:30pm, and a post-game autograph session with two Penguins players.

Penguins ticket packages, including 22-game12-game, and 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling 570-208-7367.