D’ORIO FACED SHOTS, CHALLENGES LAST SEASON

Alex D’Orio experienced a baptism by fire this past season with the Saint John Sea Dogs. The reigning Québec Major Junior Hockey League champions had their talent pool pillaged by pro graduation and trades. D’Orio no longer had the security blankets of Thomas Chabot, Jakub Zbořil and Simon Bourque playing in front of him, so he faced a ton of shots on a nightly basis.

Imagine what you think qualifies as “a lot of shots”, and then add even more shots on top of that.

“I had sixty saves in sixty minutes,” D’Orio said, recalling a grueling contest on March 4 against the eventual Memorial Cup winners, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. “That’s a game I’m going to remember for a lifetime.”

That’s not cherry-picking one game where the floodgates opened in front of D’Orio, either. There were 15 different instances this season in which Saint John surrendered 40 or more shots while D’Orio was between the pipes. The then-18-year-old goaltender led the QMJHL in shots faced with 1651 (an average of 37.5 per game), and his 1478 saves topped league goaltenders, as well (33.6 per game). However, his save percentage finished below .900 and he only won nine games.

Despite the dramatic drop in his statistics from his draft year to last season, both D’Orio and the Penguins are taking his heavy workload as a blessing in disguise, perhaps even fast-tracking his development.

“It’s part of the junior process being part of a rebuilding team,” D’Orio said. “I received a lot of shots. I learned a lot this year. This year, I learned how to be a starter and how to receive shots… [I learned to] never stop competing. That’s a big thing.”

Goaltending Development Coach Andy Chiodo knows a thing or two about being peppered with shots from his time a professional netminder for 14 seasons. He knows the value of a young goalie getting the kind of experience D’Orio had in Saint John this past year.

“It’s all about how you react to that,” Chiodo said. “If you take it in a way where you improve your game, try to get better, make sure you can handle that workload night in and night out, and whether you get scored on or lose the game, your mindset stays where you’re trying to help your team get better and not get frustrated. Then it can serve you well. If you get frustrated, it wears on you and you start internalizing the losses.

“[D’Orio] has to handle that the right way. For the most part, it sounds like he did.”

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

OLUND LOOKING TO MAKE THE JUMP FROM SWEDEN TO NORTH AMERICA


It may only be June, but Linus Ölund could be sending a message for what’s to come next season.

Ölund was one of the stand-outs during the first ice session at the Pittsburgh Penguins 2018 Development Camp at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Pennsylvania. Ölund tormented the Group A goalies by picking the top corner time and time again in every single drill the Penguins prospects partook in on Wednesday. His release was hard and heavy in addition to its accuracy, and he flashed some skill in puckhandling drills, as well.

The Swedish forward certainly passed the eye test in practice, but things might not come as easy once he has to make a big adjustment in-season. Ölund has spent his whole life playing on the expanded ice surface in European rinks. Expected to start the 2018-19 campaign with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, this season will be his first stab at trying to make his game translate to the smaller North American ice surface.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too hard,” Ölund said with some bravado in his tone. “Of course it’s going to take a few games to get to know the ice, but I’m going to use my head a lot when I play.”

Perhaps Ölund’s confidence carried over from his homeland’s surprising showing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Before Ölund took the ice in Cranberry, he and his fellow countrymen at development camp watched Sweden dispatch of Mexico, 3-0, and win their group to advance to the knockout stage for the first time since 2006.

Understandably, the 21-year-old was a little excited by the result.

“We were jumping up and down,” he said. “I wouldn’t think they would go out and get this kind of results, but they kicked out Italy in (qualification) playoffs. Yeah, I’m really happy.”

Sweden’s performance has been fun viewing for fans of all countries, but if Ölund can adjust to North American hockey and play as impressively as he did at the first day of development camp, he should be a joy to watch this season, too.

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

HOME AND ROAD JERSEY VOTE ON FACEBOOK

Fans, you helped us figure out the top Military Jersey in Penguins history recently (congrats to the 2011 sweater pictured to the right).  Now we’re looking for your help in selecting the best home or road sweater we’ve worn throughout the years.

There have been 10 different jerseys that have been considered ‘primary’ uniforms for the team over the years.  This is your chance to let us know which one is your favorite.

Preliminary round voting featuring four sweaters (1999 black vs 2007 white; 2007 black vs 2013 white) will get underway on Thursday, June 28 at 10am, and run for 24 hours.  Then, on Friday, June 29 at 10:00am, quarterfinals voting featuring the preliminary round winners, as well as the remaining six jerseys, will get underway.

We’ll take the weekend off, and return to action on Monday, July 2 with final four voting, and the overall winner will be decided in a head-to-head matchup culminating on July 3.

To participate, just head on over to our Facebook page, beginning at 10am on Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday. Cast your vote in each of the daily polls (remember – there will be multiple polls on three of those days, so vote in them all) and check back to see who advances the next morning.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 20th season home opener is set for Saturday, October 6 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.  The team’s full schedule will be announced in the near future.

Season tickets, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and flex packages, are on sale now, and available by calling the Penguins at 570-208-7367.  For more information, fill in and submit the form at the bottom of this page.

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

PENGUINS ANNOUNCE GUARANTEED HOME DATES

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ 20th season home opener will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6.  That contest is among the first six guaranteed home dates the team announced on Tuesday.

The Penguins’ guaranteed home dates for the 2018-19 season, all on Saturday nights, are as follows:

 

Saturday, October 6

Saturday, December 8

Saturday, December 15

Saturday, January 19

Saturday, February 16

Saturday, March 16

 

The full 2018-18 American Hockey League schedule will be released later this summer.

Season ticket packages for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 20th season, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

PAT McGRATH MINI-CAMP AT THE TOYOTA SPORTSPLEX THIS WEEK


Join current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Pat McGrath for a two-day minicamp at the Toyota SportsPlex on Thursday, June 28 and Friday, June 29. Hone your skills with the first local-born player in Penguins history!  For more information and registration CLICK HERE!


The Toyota SportsPlex has many other great programs and classes forming this summer, including:

Youth Learn to Skate – For all ages. Session begins Friday, July 13th and runs through Friday, August 31st. Classes are Friday evenings from 6:20pm to 7:20pm (There will be no class August 3rd). For more information and registration CLICK HERE!

Youth Learn to Play – For ages 16 and younger. Session begins Saturday, July 14th and runs through Saturday, September 1st . Classes are Saturday mornings from 8:00am to 9:00am.(There will be no class August 4th).  For more information and registration CLICK HERE!

Adult Skills-n-Drills – For ages 16 and up. Session begins Monday, July 9th and runs through Monday, August 27th. Classes will be held from 8:00 to 9:00pm unless otherwise noted. For more information and registration CLICK HERE!


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

KOSTOPOULOS, CHIODO EXPRESS EXCITEMENT FOR NEW ROLES, WBS MEMORIES

 

Tom Kostopoulos and Andy Chiodo both spent the start of their careers basking in the adoration of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans. Both players quickly earned the favor of the team’s supporters and became fan favorites, but it was the 2004 Calder Cup Playoffs that the two cemented their legacies with the team.

As Kostopoulos and Chiodo were winning over Penguins fans with their play on the ice, that was around the same time that the fans carved out a special place in the players’ hearts, too. Chiodo says he can still hear the earth-shaking cheers of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton faithful ringing in his head.

“Those are the kind of memories that you just can’t forget,” Chiodo said. “It’s hard to describe. The fans were so engaged. They were so loud, and the energy that we got to experience from the crowd pushed us through those playoffs.”

Their careers eventually veered in different directions following that run to the 2004 Calder Cup Final, but Kostopoulos and Chiodo are back together again on the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey operations staff. On Wednesday, the long-time Penguins captain, Kostopoulos, was hired by Pittsburgh as Player Development Coach, and Chiodo was named Goaltending Development Coach.

“I think this development role will be good for me,” Kostopoulos said. “I’m learning a lot about it already, plus I’m really excited that [Chiodo] is coming in at the same time as me. Being able to work with him after playing with him and being good friends with him for a long time, I think it will be good for us.”

In a way, Kostopoulos was an extension of the Penguins’ development staff for years. Wearing the “C” in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while playing on an American Hockey League contract, Kostopoulos and Pittsburgh had a mutual understanding that even though the veteran still wanted to score as many goals and win as many games as he could while his playing career was still active, he was to mentor the younger players and help prepare them for the next step in their careers. By all accounts, Kostopoulos thrived in that role as a leader (and his offensive production rarely waned during that time, too.) Current Pittsburgh stand-outs such as Jake Guentzel, Matt Murray, Conor Sheary in addition to likely future studs like Dominik Simon and Teddy Blueger all have been vocal advocates of Kostopoulos.

Given his success with helping talented players reach the National Hockey League as a locker room leader, it’s easy to understand why everyone in Pittsburgh felt that Kostopoulos would be a perfect fit as a development coach. The man himself agrees with that assessment, too.

“My role kind of evolved to where I was trying to do everything I could to help those younger players while at the same time competing,” Kostopoulos said. “Pittsburgh has drafted really good players, but to say something like I had even a small role in helping them get to the NHL means a lot. Now, I pick up off that, I get to be on the other side of it.”

Chiodo’s playing career didn’t last quite as long as Kostopoulos’ epic 19 seasons, but he had already carved himself out a niche as a broadcaster in Toronto before stepping into a coach’s role last year. After one season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s, Chiodo departed to rejoin the organization that gave him his start in pro hockey. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fan darling plans on using his experience as goaltending coach with the 67’s in his new role with the black and gold.

“Every time I was in Ottawa, I felt like I learned something,” Chiodo said. “I had a great staff in Ottawa. Whether it was during individual meetings, the way they handled their video, the way they prepared for games, the way we all responded after games, I was absorbing it all. I think it was an ongoing process that I really enjoyed and I am grateful for.”

Kostopoulos and Chiodo’s jobs will take them across the continent, following draft picks and other prospects in the professional, collegiate and junior hockey ranks. Part of the appeal of the position is that you’re not quite as fully inundated in as season as one would be as a player. This made it attractive to Kostopoulos, who has made it perfectly clear that he wants to spend time with his family in retirement.

Furthermore, Kostopoulos, Chiodo, and Pittsburgh’s other development coach, Jarrod Skalde, are all based out the greater Toronto area. They won’t have to go far to congregate and discuss Penguins prospects and their progress, and Kostopoulos can still be close to home for his kid’s soccer game or a family movie night.

“Once my kids are finished with school in Dallas, (Pennsylvania,) we’ll be settling back in Ontario,” Kostopoulos said. “I think it’s a hub to travel and see Penguins prospects, but also get my kids back around their grandparents. It’s an exciting position for my whole family, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Of course, the job also requires frequent visits to Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Wheeling. Kostopoulos and Chiodo will mostly be confined to the press box and coaches’ offices, but if you happen to cross paths with one of them in the halls of Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, feel free to say hello. Even though they’re hockey ops now, they still feel the connection made as players with Penguins fans.

“I have such fond memories of the fans, the organization and that time period in my career,” Chiodo said. “The time that I had in Wilkes-Barre is something that I really remember in a fond way, and I’m excited to go back.”

TOM KOSTOPOULOS AND ANDY CHIODO HIRED BY PITTSBURGH


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today that former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton players Tom Kostopoulos and Andy Chiodo have been hired to player development roles within the organization. Kostopoulos was named player development coach, and Chiodo was named goaltending development coach.

Both Kostopoulos and Chiodo will work closely with Penguins’ director of player development Scott Young and player development coach Jarrod Skalde.

Kostopoulos, 39, and Chiodo, 35, rank among the most popular players in the history of the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins, and both made their NHL debuts with Pittsburgh in the early 2000’s.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Kostopoulos recently wrapped up a 19-year professional career that included a combined 1,468 NHL and AHL regular season and playoff games. He is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s all-time leader in games played (658), goals (187), assists (282) and points (469), and he is one of only four players in hockey history to have logged 600 games at both the NHL and AHL levels. Kostopoulos served as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s captain for the final five seasons of his career.

Although he was playing in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Kostopoulos played an instrumental role in Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017. As Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s captain, Kostopoulos helped assimilate several of the young players who played starring roles for Pittsburgh to the professional ranks, a group that included Matt Murray, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Brian Dumoulin, Conor Sheary and Tom Kühnhackl.

Kostopoulos, the Penguins’ seventh-round selection (204th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, broke into the NHL with Pittsburgh during the 2001-02 campaign. He skated for Pittsburgh through the 2003-04 season, before playing with Los Angeles, Montréal, Carolina, Calgary and New Jersey. He totaled 157 points (61G-96A) in 630 NHL regular season games and five points (3G-2A) in 16 postseason contests.

Chiodo hails from Toronto, Ontario and the goaltender enjoyed tremendous success with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the outset of his professional career in 2003-04, helping the Penguins reach the 2004 Calder Cup Final. Chiodo led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 18 wins in the regular season that year, then tacked on three shutouts during the team’s playoff run.

Chiodo, who was selected by the Penguins in the seventh round (199th overall) in the 2003 NHL Draft, saw his only NHL action with Pittsburgh that season. He sparked a late season revival after joining the club in February. His first NHL win came on February 25, 2004, a 4-3 overtime defeat of the Phoenix Coyotes. Not only was that Chiodo’s first win, but that victory ended the Penguins’ franchise-record-tying 18-game winless stretch. Chiodo posted a 3-4-1 record in eight games with Pittsburgh, as the Penguins went on a 12-5-3 run to close the season after winning just 11 of their first 62 games.

Following his three-year run in the Pittsburgh organization, which included time with the Wheeling Nailers as well, Chiodo continued to play professionally in North America and Europe through the 2016-17 campaign. His 14 seasons included stops in Russia, Finland and Austria. In 2007-08, his Finnish team, Kärpät, won the SM-liiga championship.

Chiodo spent the 2017-18 season as the goaltending coach for the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League.

Season ticket packages for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 20th season, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.

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

PITTSBURGH NEWS: PENS RE-SIGN LINDBERG, ANNOUNCE PROSPECT CAMP


The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed forward Tobias Lindberg to a one-year, two-way contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

The two-way deal carries an average annual value of $650,000 at the NHL level.

Lindberg, 22, was acquired by the Penguins back on Feb. 23 in the blockbuster three-team deal with Ottawa and Vegas where the Penguins also acquired Derick Brassard. Following the trade, Lindberg remained with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, Vegas’ minor-league affiliate, for the duration of the season.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden produced 10 goals, 13 assists, 23 points and a plus-8 in 64 contests with the Wolves. He tacked on one assist in two playoff games. Lindberg has spent the majority of the last three seasons in the AHL with Chicago, Binghamton and Toronto, producing 73 points (27G-46A) and a plus-26 in 164 games.

Originally selected by the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round (102nd overall) in 2013, Lindberg has six games of NHL action on his resume, all with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015-16. On March 31, 2016, Lindberg picked up the first of his two NHL assists when he set up a Brooks Laich goal against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Arena, Lindberg’s NHL debut.

Lindberg starred for the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals during his first season in North America in 2014-15. That year, he helped Oshawa win the OHL playoff championship, followed by a Memorial Cup title. Lindberg had five points (3G-2A) in four Memorial Cup appearances, including setting up the title-clinching goal scored by current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli.

In regular-season action that year, Lindberg finished second on the team in goals (32) and third in points (78) in 67 contests. Then during the playoffs, he finished third on the club again with 19 points (7G-12A) in 21 appearances.

Lindberg was acquired by the Toronto organization from Ottawa in the 2016 megadeal that saw defenseman Dion Phaneuf swapped from Toronto to Ottawa. Vegas had acquired Lindberg in October of 2017 as part of a package that sent goaltender Calvin Pickard to the Maple Leafs.


The Pittsburgh Penguins will host their annual prospect development camp next week, June 27-29, at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

Camp will begin with a pair of practices on Wednesday, June 27. Team A hits the ice from 2:15-3:00 PM; Team B follows from 3:15-4:00 PM.

On Friday night, beginning at 7:00 PM, all players will once again be broken into four teams to compete in a 3-on-3 tournament. Earlier that morning, the teams will hold traditional game-day morning skates. Team B skates at 10:30 AM, followed by Team A at 11:30 AM.

Thursday’s practice sessions will be held at 9:45 AM (Team A) and 10:45 AM (Team B and the goalies).

All practices are open to the public free of charge.

The Penguins will release their development camp roster early next week.

As in past years, development camp will feature a variety of off-ice presentations and activities focused on helping players transition to becoming a professional athlete.

Below is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2018 Development Camp Practice Schedule at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex:

Wednesday, June 27
2:15-3:00 PM – Team A Practice
3:15-4:00 PM – Team B Practice

Thursday, June 28
9:45 AM – Skills Session (Team A)
10:45 AM – Skills Session (Team B)
10:45 AM – Goalies Session (Rink 2)

Friday, June 29
10:30 AM – Team B Morning Skate
11:30 AM – Team A Morning Skate
7:00 PM – 3-on-3 Tournament

WHEELING NAILERS TRYOUT CAMP JULY 21-22


The Toyota SportsPlex is excited to once again announce an open tryout for the Wheeling Nailers, ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The tryout is scheduled for Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22, 2018, and a minimum of three participants will be invited to attend Wheeling’s 2018-19 training camp.

“Last year, Wheeling ended up offering four players training camp invites from this tryout,” said Jarrod Skalde, Pittsburgh Penguins player development coach. “It’s a great opportunity, and we’re already looking forward to another strong showing from some of these skaters.” Skalde, along with former Nailers assistant coach Jay Spess, will oversee this year’s tryout.

Registration information is available at www.toyotasportsplex.com. The tryout is limited to 75 participants. All interested parties must provide proof of medical insurance and be paid in full prior to participating. The cost to attend the camp is $350.00.

“This was a great event last year, and I’m glad we’re able to host it again,” added Jason Jarecki,  General Manager of the Toyota SportsPlex. “As I’ve said before, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these players.”

A full tryout camp itinerary will be provided upon completion of registration. For additional information, please contact Jay Spess via e-mail at jspess@toyotasportsplex.com

PENGUINS ANNOUNCE FRONT OFFICE CHANGES

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have named Nick Hart play-by-play broadcaster/media relations director and Jason Spess manager of team services, it was announced today by CEO Jeff Barrett.

In addition to Hart and Spess’ new duties, broadcaster Mike O’Brien is leaving the organization to pursue other opportunities in Boston, Massachusetts.

Hart joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton prior to the 2015-16 season, serving as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s media relations manager while providing color commentary for the team’s broadcasts. Hart, 25, is a 2015 graduate of Ohio University with a degree in journalism.

Spess has served as assistant general manager of the Toyota SportsPlex for the past two years and served as an assistant coach with the Penguins’ ECHL affiliate the Wheeling Nailers, last season.

O’Brien joined the Penguins prior to the 2011 season, serving initially as the team’s media relations manager and color commentator, before taking over play-by-play duties prior to the 2013-14 season.  He later added team services to his job description, handling all travel arrangements and player movement for the club.

“Mike did a tremendous job during his seven year tenure in Wilkes-Barre, not only behind the microphone, but behind the scenes handling the team services functions for the club,” said CEO Jeff Barrett.  “We are also happy to hand these new duties to Nick and Jason, who have worked tirelessly for the team over the past several years.”

The Penguins will begin their 20th season in the American Hockey League this October. Season ticket packages for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 20th season, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.