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

PENGUINS REVEAL OPPONENT SLATE FOR 2018-19 SEASON

 

 

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced their opponents for the upcoming 2018-19 season, the club’s 20th season of hockey. Among the 16 teams that the Penguins will face next year is a new foe, the Cleveland Monsters.

Cleveland was moved to the Eastern Conference’s North Division as a result of AHL realignment announced earlier in the week on Monday, May 7. The Penguins will take on the Monsters four times this season; twice at home and twice on the road. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will also return to home-and-home sets with three Western Conference opponents that they saw in 2017-18, the Grand Rapids Griffins, Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s full slate of opponents is as follows:

Opponent Home Road   Opponent Home Road
Binghamton 2 2   Milwaukee 1 1
Bridgeport 4 4   Providence 3 3
Charlotte 2 2   Rochester 1 1
Cleveland 2 2   Rockford 1 1
Grand Rapids 1 1   Springfield 3 3
Hartford 3 3   Syracuse 1 1
Hershey 6 6   Toronto 1 1
Lehigh Valley 6 6   Utica 1 1

 

The Penguins have not faced off against the Monsters since the 2008-09 season, when they were then known as the Lake Erie Monsters. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 3-1-0-0 against the Monsters all-time.

Guaranteed home dates and the full 2018-19 schedule will be announced at a later date.

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.

PENGUINS LOCKER ROOM EQUIPMENT SALE THIS WEEKEND


The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins annual locker room sale will take place at the Toyota SportsPlex (40 Coal Street, Wilkes-Barre) on Saturday, May 19 from 10am-2pm and Sunday, May 20 from 12-pm-2pm.

Fans will be able to purchase new and used equipment, including sticks, helmets, gloves, skates, pants and pads, as well as other accessories.

Equipment will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and will only be available in person (no online sales).  Cash and credit cards will be accepted as payment.  All sales are final (no returns).

In addition, the Penguins Team Store will have select items on sale for up to 20% off.  Be sure to swing by the shop inside the Toyota SportsPlex while you’re there.

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

BLUEGER JOINS TEAM LATVIA AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Teddy Blueger (Teodors Blugers) has been added to the roster for Team Latvia at the 2018 IIHF World Championship, taking place this month in Denmark.

Blueger, a native of Riga, Latvia, recorded 45 points (21+24) in 70 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.  He finished third on the team in points, second in goals and tied for second in game-winning goals (5).  His four overtime goals led the entire American Hockey League.

The 23-year old Blueger was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round in the 2012 NHL Draft. This will be his second IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship tournament, after he appeared in seven games in the 2017 competition, held in Cologne, Germany.

For more information on the tournament, and to check out how Teddy is faring in the competition, head on over to the IIHF website.

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

LONGEST GAMES IN WBS PENGUINS HISTORY

It’s finals week at many colleges throughout the area, and kids are pulling all-nighters to get ready for their finals.

Well, there was an all-nighter in the American Hockey League last night as well.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Charlotte Checkers battled in the longest game in AHL history last night/this morning, with Alex Krushelnyski scoring at 6:48 of the fifth overtime to give the visiting Phantoms a 2-1 victory. That goal came at 1:09am.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have played seven games that have gone to multiple overtimes in the playoff history. Here’s a quick look back at those contests, from longest to shortest.

APRIL 25, 2005 – Colby Armstrong scores at 12:26 of the third overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Binghamton Senators in Game Three of the East Division Semifinals. The Penguins, who had dropped the first two games to the Pens, went on to win the next three games and advance to the East Division Final.

MAY 6, 2015 – Zach O’Brien’s goals at 4:13 of the third overtime gave the Manchester Monarchs a 4-3 win in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Monarchs advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in five games, and went on to capture the Calder Cup that season.

MAY 7, 2001 – Alexendre Mathieu’s goal at 15:43 of the second overtime gave the Penguins a 2-1 win in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the Hershey Bears. The Penguins swept the Bears in four games as they advanced to the Calder Cup Final for the first time in team history.

APRIL 23, 2016 – Jake Guentzel’s goal at 13:52 of the second overtime gave the Penguins a 5-4 win over the Providence Bruins, and a sweep of their best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinal, with all three victories coming in overtimes.

MAY 8, 2012 – Simon Despres scored at 12:08 of the second overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the St. John’s Ice Caps in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinal. The victory staved off elimination for the Penguins, who went on ti win Game Six in St. John’s three days later. However, the Ice Caps posted a 3-2 victory in game Seven to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

MAY 14, 2014 – It was Simon Despres once again playing the hero, scoring at 6:32 of the second overtime to give the Penguins a 5-4 win over the Providence Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won the series in seven games, and advanced to face St. John’s in the Eastern Conference Final.

MAY 4, 2007 – Alexander Giroux’s goal at 5:57 of the second overtime gave the Hershey Bears a 4-3 win in Game Two of the East Division Final. Hershey went on to win that series in five games.

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

QUIET LEADER WILSON LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT SEASON


It was easy to see that Garrett Wilson wasn’t in a great mood at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins exit interviews. One day after being bounced from the Calder Cup playoffs, he stood in front of the local media with his head slightly tilted downward. With the sting of being bounced from the postseason still tingling, Wilson opened his mouth.

He spoke softly, but his words packed a punch.

“We couldn’t get the job done,” he said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow… I’m kind of [ticked] off we couldn’t do more for T.K.”

There’s nothing that can be done to change what happened this April, but Wilson has made it very clear that this year’s loss will only motivate him moving forward. The U.S.S. Wilson’s course for the summer is full speed ahead for the 2018-19 season, where he’s taking no prisoners.

“That’s two years in a row that we’ve been bounced in the first round since I’ve been here,” Wilson said. “That’s definitely going to be my feel for the offseason. It’s sticking with me. I’m going to be ready to go next year, for sure.”

The 2017-18 campaign was a difficult one for the 27-year old winger away from the rink, as he lost his mother to a long battle with cancer in late November. And despite setting career highs in assists (25) and points (47), Wilson admits his mother’s passing made last season a difficult one for him to get through.

The good news is that he believes this season has steeled him for any potential bumps in the road he may come across in the future.

“I went through some adversity and think I handled it well,” Wilson said. “When I face some obstacles again in my career, I can look back on this year and use what I learned and go from there.”

Wilson also credits his teammates for propping him up during one of the most difficult times in his life. One man in the locker room that has been referred to as the ultimate teammate, won’t be back for next season, though. That’s 19-year veteran Tom Kostopoulos, who retired at the end of the season.

Wilson was one of the Penguins’ most outspoken supporters of what the captain meant to the team. That’s also another reason why this year’s playoff exit hit Wilson so hard.

With Kostopoulos ready to write the next chapter of his life, Wilson seems like a prime candidate to assume a leadership position in the room.

But Wilson believes Kostopoulos’ contributions as a captain were so great, that one person trying to bear that burden of captaincy might be difficult. Regardless of who’s wearing what letter on their chests, it will require a group effort to fill the void left by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s longtime leader.

“Losing T.K. is big shoes to fill,” Wilson said. “I don’t think one person can come and fill that leadership role all on their own. It’s going to take a good group to step up. I’m sure [WBS General Manager] Billy [Guerin] and them will get the right pieces in free agency, and we’ll all lead this together as a team.”

If the plan is to lead as a team, fans can still expect Wilson to be at the forefront of the squad, playing with a determination to get that bad taste out of his mouth.

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

AHL ANNOUNCES DIVISION ALIGNMENT FOR 2018-19


American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors, which convened for its Spring Meeting today in Chicago, Ill., has approved the following division alignment for the 2018-19 AHL season (National Hockey League affiliations in parentheses):

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders)
Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes)
Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers)
Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers)
Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)
Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins)

North Division
Belleville Senators (Ottawa Senators)
Binghamton Devils (New Jersey Devils)
Cleveland Monsters (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens)
Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres)
Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks)

Western Conference
Central Division
Chicago Wolves (Vegas Golden Knights)
Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings)
Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild)
Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets)
Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators)
Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks)
San Antonio Rampage (St. Louis Blues)
Texas Stars (Dallas Stars)

Pacific Division
Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers)
Colorado Eagles (Colorado Avalanche)
Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings)
San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks)
San Jose Barracuda (San Jose Sharks)
Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames)
Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona Coyotes)

Changes from the 2017-18 season include:

  • Colorado joining the AHL as its 31st active team and playing in the Pacific Division
  • San Antonio and Texas moving from the Pacific Division to the Central Division
  • Cleveland moving from the Central Division to the North Division

The playing schedule for the 2018-19 regular season, which begins Oct. 5, will be announced this summer.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 17th year in a row, more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games across North America in 2017-18.

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

DESPITE INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS, SPRONG STILL HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE


Name an American Hockey League player who was more electrifying than Daniel Sprong during the 2017-18 regular season.

Go on.

We’ll wait.

Can’t do it, can you?

Sprong was sensational during his first full pro season, scoring at a point-per-game clip (65 in 65), leading all AHL rookies with 32 goals, and finishing one-point behind Manitoba’s Mason Appleton for the freshman point lead.

His 32 goals were also the most by any rookie to ever don a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sweater, and tied him for second-most in team history. He also became the first Penguin in eight years to eclipse the 60-point mark.

Sprong expressed his disappointment with his team’s playoff exit when the Penguins held their exit meetings and locker clear-out day, but when prodded about his individual success, he lightened up a bit.

“Personally, I thought I had a really good year,” Sprong said. “I’m happy with my season. There were a lot of guys in this room that helped me this season, too. We created a lot of good memories together. I’m proud of the way my season went.”

The Netherlands native’s scoring prowess earned him several nicknames in his first full season as a pro; the Dutch Dangler, the Flying Dutchman, the King of Sprong Style.

There was never a question about Sprong’s offensive ability as he entered the season. The youngster was, however, tasked with improving his defensive play by the Penguins staff. It was a challenge he gladly accepted.

“Coming into the year, I was still cheating,” Sprong said. “I was looking for breaks. As the year went on, I started to play inside the game a little bit more. That in turn created more offense for me. That contributed to a lot of my success.”

This season, Penguins assistant coach Tim Army spent a lot of time in front of a computer screen reviewing game film with Sprong sitting right beside him. Engaged in the learning process, the rookie slowly but surely started to comprehend the benefits of not “cheating”, as he put it, and remaining an active participant in the play, even when he wasn’t carrying the puck on his stick.

This evolving play was a big reason why he was able to etch his way into Wilkes-Barre/Scranton record books, thanks in large part to his outburst of 11 goals and 19 points in his final 15 games of the regular season.

Despite the rousing success in year one, Sprong isn’t taking anything for granted this summer; he’s approaching the next campaign like someone who still has something to prove.

“There’s still a lot of months, a lot of steps between now and [the start of the season],” Sprong said. “I’m going to work hard in the summer, come back in shape and get ready to earn my spot.”

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

PITTSBURGH RECALLS 13 FROM WBS


The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled 13 players from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Today’s recalls include seven forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders.

Joining the Penguins are forwards Josh Jooris, Daniel Sprong, Thomas Di Pauli, Adam Johnson, Teddy Blueger, Garrett Wilson and Jean-Sebastien Dea; defensemen Lukas Bengtsson, Chris Summers, Jarred Tinordi and Andrey Pedan; and goaltenders Tristan Jarry and Michael Leighton.

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

PENGUINS FALL SHORT TO CHECKERS IN ELIMINATION GAME

 

BOXSCORE

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins saw their 2018 Calder Cup Playoff run come to an end with a 7-3 loss in Game Three to the Charlotte Checkers at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Thursday night.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored the game’s first two goals, including the first of Anthony Angello’s professional career, but their opening push was not enough as Charlotte came back with five consecutive tallies to earn enough separation to win the series, 3-0.

The Penguins got things going early as Angello collected a rebound five minutes into the opening frame. Niclas Almari, making his Calder Cup Playoffs debut, earned the secondary assist on Angello’s first pro goal.

Angello’s line combined to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 2-0 lead at 7:29 of the first period. Teddy Blueger delivered a pass to Zach Trotman, whose booming slap shot was tipped in by Adam Johnson.

The Penguins were firmly in control of the contest until the Checkers turned the tide late in the opening period. First, Lucas Wallmark found the back of the net behind a screened Tristan Jarry at 16:41 of the first period, and Greg McKegg converted on a breakaway 21 seconds later. Suddenly, the game was tied, 2-2.

The second period produced scoring chance after scoring chance for both sides, but no goals until the Checkers got a favorable bounce late. Aleksi Saarela threw the puck into the slot crease, where it deflected off a Penguin’s stick, then his skate and into the net. The pinballing puck granted Charlotte a 3-2 lead with 2:14 left before the second intermission.

Charlotte poured on the offense in the final frame, scoring two goals in as many minutes as Clark Bishop and Andrew Miller both capitalized to extend the Checkers’ lead to 5-2.

Angello scored his second goal of the game when he stole the puck from Alex Nedeljkovic and snuck it past the goaltender, giving the Penguins life at 13:31 of the third period.  However, the Checkers tacked on two empty netters to end any hopes of a comeback and bring the game to its final score, 7-3.

Jarry made 25 saves on the night while Nedeljkovic stopped 26 shots thrown his way.

The Penguins finished the regular season 45-22-6-3, good enough for second place in the Atlantic Division and the fifth-best record in the American Hockey League. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs for the 16th season in a row, the longest active streak in the AHL.