STERN EMERGES AS QUALITY D-MAN DURING FIRST AHL SEASON


Fans of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have grown accustomed to seeing undrafted, unheralded players work their ways up from the ECHL and solidify themselves in the American Hockey League. Barry Goers falls into that category, as does Sahir Gill. Carter Rowney is perhaps the most notable example of these type of players, not only becoming a team MVP in the AHL, but now holding  a roster spot in the NHL.

Now, Brett Stern is trying to add his name to that list.

After spending the first season and a half of his pro career with the Wheeling Nailers, Stern played 17 regular season contests and one playoff game with the Penguins. All of those games came while on a professional tryout agreement.

Despite playing without an AHL contract, Stern left a big impression on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s coaching staff.

“Stern played terrific,” said head coach Clark Donatelli. “When he came in, too, his first few games were all division games. Hershey, Lehigh, he was thrown right into the fire… He showed he could play. He’s an AHL player.”

Stern’s emergence was made all the more impressive considering who his colleagues were once he made it up from the ECHL. He wasn’t handed ice time on team bottoming out in the standings, he was making waves on the eventually MacGregor Kilpatrick Trophy-winning club. Furthermore, the Penguins’ defense boasted the likes of Tim Erixon, Cameron Gaunce, Frank Corrado and Derrick Pouliot, who have all logged significant time in the NHL at one point in their careers or another.

There weren’t exactly a lot of open spots on the Penguins’ blue line, and yet Stern continued to stick around.

“This group is a special group of players,” he said. “Just looking around the rest of the defensemen in this locker room, it’s pretty surreal to think you’re playing with them.”

The transition straight to the AHL wasn’t an easy on for Stern, though. While his strong, shut-down defense was turning heads right from the get-go, there was a lot going on beneath the surface.

“It’s hard at first,” Stern said. “You don’t feel comfortable, but at the same time, you want to play with confidence and the mindset that you’re there for a reason. It was tough at first, but I got settled in eventually. And I think I got better and better as the year went on.”

That gradual improvement has been a hallmark of Stern’s game since he turned pro following four seasons of unprecedented success with Minnesota State University’s hockey program. Stern claims that biggest steps he’s made from the start of his first pro season, is shaking the “college hockey mentality” that didn’t necessarily cater to his style of play.

“Because you only play 40 games in a season and mostly on weekends, college hockey is a little bit easier to just go, go, go,” he said. “It’s a lot of running around and hitting and guys ending up out of place. It’s not as structured. The pro game, you can’t be running around. If you’re out of position, they’ll expose you in a heartbeat. It’s a thinking game. You want to outsmart the other team a lot of the time as a defenseman, so it’s like a game of chess. It took me a while to adjust to that, but I think the pro game suits me more.

It’s more think then react, whereas the college game is more react then think.”

When he’s not hunting, fishing or visiting his relatives north of the border, Stern will spend most of his summer thinking about what the next move is for him in his career and then reacting accordingly.

“Hopefully, I see more time in the AHL next year,” Stern said. “But if not, I’m going to keep working. That’s not a reason to stop. I just need to take the lessons I learned from this year and apply them to getting better moving forward.”


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 ADD FOUR DEFENSEMEN

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have signed defensemen Niclas Almari and Connor Hall to amateur tryout contracts for the remainder of the 2016-17 season. Additionally, defenseman Kevin Schulze has signed a professional tryout agreement with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and the Penguins have recalled defenseman Ryan Segalla.

Almari split his first pro season between HPK Hämeenlinna (Liiga) and Lempäälän Kisa (Mestis) in Finland. During that time, he earned four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 47 games. He also won the Legacy Bowl with HPK’s junior club as Jr. A SM-liiga champions on Apr. 1, 2017. The 18-year-old blueliner from Espoo, Finland was taken in the fifth round (151st overall) of this past summer’s 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hall, a third round pick (77th overall) by Pittsburgh in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, comes to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after his second season with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. The six-foot-four defenseman appeared in 17 games with the Rangers this season before he underwent shoulder surgery in December. In 64 career OHL games, Hall has earned three goals, nine assists, 12 points and 95 penalty minutes.

Schulze led the Nailers this season with 47 assists and tied current Penguin Cody Wydo for the team lead in points (60). The rookie out of the University of Wisconsin was the only defenseman in the ECHL to lead his team in points at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Segalla, who is also playing in his first season of pro hockey, made his AHL debut in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 4-0 win at Lehigh Valley on Mar. 25, 2017. In one AHL game, the Hanover, Mass. native did not earn any points. The 22-year-old has posted three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 62 games with the Nailers this season.

Segalla was drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Wednesday, Apr. 12, the last of 12 season meetings between the Penguins and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop between the Penguins and Phantoms is scheduled for 7:05 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.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS RECALL CHRISTIAN HILBRICH FROM WHEELING

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have recalled forward Christian Hilbrich to the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL).

Additionally, the Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled forwards Oskar Sundqvist, Jean-Sébastien Dea, and defenseman Derrick Pouliot from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Hilbrich has appeared in five games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, earning no points or penalty minutes in that time. The six-foot-seven forward made his AHL debut on Feb. 17, 2017 while the Penguins were visiting the Albany Devils.

In 65 contests with the Nailers this season, Hilbrich has posted 16 goals and 29 assists for 45 points and 48 penalty minutes. The 24-year-old rookie has a team-best plus-21 rating, and was named Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for his efforts during the period of Jan. 9 – 15 after collecting nine points (5G-4A) in four games during that span.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is today, Sunday, Apr. 9, when it faces the Providence Bruins for the final time this season. Puck drop between the Penguins and Bruins is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Penguins’ next home game is Wednesday, Apr. 12, and they’ll take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Individual game 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.

Penguins ticket packages, including packages for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

SEAN MAGUIRE REASSIGNED TO PENGUINS, CODY WYDO SIGNED TO PTO

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that the Pittsburgh Penguins have reassigned goaltender Sean Maguire to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Additionally, the Penguins have signed forward Cody Wydo to a professional tryout agreement. Maguire and Wydo both join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.

Additionally, forward Kevin Porter and goalie Tristan Jarry have been recalled by Pittsburgh.

Maguire appeared in one game for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, the Penguins’ final game of the season. He stopped all four shots faced in regulation and overtime before losing in the shootout.

In 35 contests this season with Wheeling, Maguire has put forth a 14-16-4 record with an .897 save percentage, 3.20 goals against average, as well as two shutouts. The Powell River, B.C. native was named ECHL CCM Goaltender of the Month for January after going 6-1-1 with a .938 save percentage, 1.79 goals against average and two shutouts in nine games. He later set a career high with 41 saves on Mar. 5, 2017 at Fort Wayne.

This is the first stint with an AHL club for Wydo, whose  30 goals and 60 points lead the Nailers, and his 30 assists rank second on the team. The second-year pro has earned 27 points (14G-13A) in his last 24 games prior to signing with the Penguins. Last year, Wydo finished the season third on the Nailers in points with 50 (23G-27A) as a rookie. Furthermore, those 50 points were good for ninth-best among ECHL rookies.

The Southgate, Mich. native was a four-year letterman at Robert Morris University, and captained the team in his senior season. Wydo was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award after his senior season with the Colonials.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tonight, Saturday, Apr. 8, when it faces the Hartford Wolf Pack   for the eighth and final time this season. Puck drop between the Penguins and Wolf Pack is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at XL Center. The Penguins’ next home game is Wednesday, Apr. 12, and they’ll take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Individual game tickets for Apr. 12’s game and 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.

Penguins ticket packages, including packages for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

PENGUINS SIGN NICK SORKIN TO PTO

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have signed forward Nick Sorkin to a professional tryout agreement. Sorkin joins the Penguins from the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.

Sorkin has appeared in 57 games this season with Wheeling, scoring 14 goals and adding 43 assists for 57 points. The Rockville, Md. native ranks third on the team in points and second in assists. Sorkin also played five games in the AHL this season with the San Diego Gulls on a PTO, but did not record any points.

The Penguins are the third AHL team he has been with, after San Diego and the Hamilton Bulldogs, for which he made his AHL debut back in 2014. Sorkin has earned 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 total points in 82 career AHL games.

Before turning pro, Sorkin spent four years at the University of New Hampshire playing in 142 career games. He posted 98 total points with 34 goals, and 64 assists while playing in front of current Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tonight, Friday, Apr. 7 when they take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop between the Penguins and Phantoms is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game isn’t until Wednesday, Apr. 12, and its opponent will once again be the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Individual game tickets for Apr. 12’s game and 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.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

DESMITH’S JOURNEY LEADS TO ALL-ROOKIE TEAM AWARD

Casey DeSmith wasn’t expecting to be named to the American Hockey League’s All-Rookie Team on Wednesday morning.

That’s because he didn’t even know the honor existed.

But the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltender was more than happy to accept the recognition when he was told about his inclusion prior to yesterday’s practice at the Toyota Sportsplex.

“It was exciting.  Obviously I had no idea going into [Wednesday],” DeSmith said.  “And then Clarkie announced it on the ice in front of the whole team, and everybody was pretty excited for me.”

It’s hard to argue against DeSmith’s spot on the team, which also includeds current Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guetnzel.  As of April 6, DeSmith led all rookies and ranked fourth overall with a 2.14 goals against average, and had posted 19 wins in 25 appearances.  He and teammate Tristan Jarry have helped the Penguins to the league’s lowest goals against total as the season enters its final two weeks.

DeSmith got his first taste of pro hockey least year with the Wheeling Nailers, but found it difficult to crack the lineup in the team’s three-goalie rotation.  He saw some midseason action with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, winning his first AHL start on January 3 against the Hartford Wolf Pack.  But still found himself the odd man out when he was returned to the Nailers.

Through a series of injuries in Pittsburgh and circumstances in Wilkes-Barre, DeSmith was signed to a PTO in late April and wrestled the number one goalie spot away as the Pens headed to the playoffs.

DeSmith backstopped the Pens to three straight overtime wins against the Providence Bruins, including a 59-save, double OT victory in the series deciding third game, and followed that up with a 33-save shutout win against the Hershey Bears in Game One of the Division Final.  He appeared in nine of the Penguins’ 10 postseason contests, going 5-4 with a 2.44 goals against average.

That performance helped earned DeSmith an AHL contract for the 2016-17 season, where he’s continued to shine in his first full season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

“I guess going into this year I didn’t feel quite as much as a rookie as other people did maybe, just because I did have that time in the playoffs last year, getting thrown into the fire there.  Really it helped me feel even more part of the team,” he said.

PENGUINS REASSIGN RYAN SEGALLA TO NAILERS

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have reassigned defenseman Ryan Segalla to the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL).

Segalla, playing in his first season of pro hockey, made his AHL debut in the Penguins’ 4-0 win at Lehigh Valley on Mar. 25, 2017. In one AHL game, the Hanover, Mass. native did not earn any points. The 22-year-old defenseman has posted three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 57 games with the Nailers this season.

Segalla was drafted in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is Friday, Mar. 31 when it travels to Mass Mutual Center for the team’s last match-up of the season with the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Penguins’ next home game is Saturday, Apr. 1, and their opponent will be 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.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

SEGALLA EXCITED TO GET THE CALL

Ryan Segalla and the Wheeling Nailers wrapped up a thrilling, 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Elmira Jackals on Wednesday night just across the PA-NY border.

Twelve hours later, Segalla was on the ice in Wilkes-Barre, taking part in his first regular season practice as a member of the Penguins.

The rookie defenseman was recalled by the AHL club after the Nailers’ game against Elmira, which finished up at about 9:30pm last night.  Just about three hours later, he was checking into a hotel in Luzerne County.

“It’s been pretty exciting.  Coach pulled me aside [after the game] and said ‘Congratulations, you’re going up,’” said the 22-year old Segalla, who made the trip to NEPA with Wheeling teammate Brett Stern, who was signed to a third pro tryout contract by the Penguins on Thursday morning.  “We just hopped in a car and drove up here. Got here about 12:45.”

Selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2013 NHL draft, Segalla spent three years at the University of Connecticut, where he recorded 21 points (3+18) in 86 games with the Huskies over three seasons.

Segalla, who has 10 points (3+7) in 56 games with the Nailers this season, knows what’s expected of him at the next level.

“You have to find a way to help your team produce,” he said.  “I have to play hard in the corners, just keep it simple, make the first outlet pass, just play defense.”

NOTES:  Forward Garrett Wilson, who has been out of the lineup since suffering an injury against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on February 14, returned to practice with the team today, although he was sporting a red no ‘no contact’ jersey…The AHL puts out a daily Playoff Primer, which shows upcoming schedules for all teams, who is in playoff position and who is not, magic number to clinch a playoff spot and other variables.  This season the league is including a Strength of Schedule column, which shows the combined points percentage of all remaining opponents for any team.  According to the AHL, the Penguins have the third-toughest remaining schedule in the league at .589.  They trail only the Hartford WolfPack (.605), who has already been eliminated from playoff contention, and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (.619).  The Pens and Phantoms meet five more times over the last month of the season, starting with a home and home this weekend.

PENGUINS RECALL RYAN SEGALLA, SIGN BRETT STERN TO PTO

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have recalled defenseman Ryan Segalla and signed defenseman Brett Stern to a professional tryout agreement. Both Segalla and Stern come to the Penguins from the team’s ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.

Segalla, playing in his first season of pro hockey, has posted three goals and 7 assists for 10 points in 56 games with the Nailers. The Hanover, Mass. native signed an American Hockey League contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton following three seasons at the University of Connecticut.

Segalla was drafted in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Stern made his AHL debut earlier this season as a member of the Penguins on Monday, Jan. 16 at Syracuse, and went on to appear in four games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton throughout the month of January. He later played in two more games with the Penguins on a second PTO in February. The 25-year-old second year pro earned no points and no penalty minutes in that time.

Stern has played in 45 games with Wheeling this season, posting six goals and 18 assists for 24 points, as well as a plus-two rating. Last year, Stern finished the season with seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points, the second-highest total among Wheeling defensemen.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tomorrow, Friday, Mar. 17, when it travels down the turnpike to Allentown to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop for the Penguins’ clash with the Phantoms is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at PPL Center. The Penguins’ next home game is Saturday, Mar. 18, and once again they’ll face the Phantoms.

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.

Penguins ticket packages, including 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON SENDS CHRISTIAN HILBRICH, BRETT STERN TO WHEELING

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have reassigned forward Christian Hilbrich to the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) and released defenseman Brett Stern from his professional tryout contract. Stern will also report to the Nailers.

Hilbrich has appeared in five games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, earning no points or penalty minutes in that time. The six-foot-seven forward made his AHL debut on Feb. 17, 2017 while the Penguins were visiting the Albany Devils.

In 51 contests with the Nailers this season, Hilbrich has posted 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points and 32 penalty minutes. The 24-year-old rookie has a team-best plus-20 rating, and was named Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for his efforts during the period of Jan. 9 – 15 after collecting nine points (5G-4A) in four games during that span.

Stern has played in 42 games with Wheeling this season, posting six goals and 15 assists for 21 points, as well as a plus-six rating. He made his AHL debut with the Penguins on Monday, Jan. 16 at Syracuse, and has appeared in six games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next game is tonight, Saturday, Mar. 11, and its opponent will be the Providence Bruins. Puck drop between the Penguins and P-Bruins is scheduled for 7:05 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.

Penguins ticket packages, including 12-game, and 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.