PENGUINS TRIUMPH IN SEASON OPENER AGAINST CHECKERS
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins started their 25th season in the win column, defeating the Charlotte Checkers, 4-2, at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Friday night.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton emerged victorious in what was a longstanding defensive dragout to begin its 2023-24 campaign 1-0-0-0. All six of the night’s goals occurred in quick succession during the third period, with the Penguins getting the better of their division rival on opening night.
After a special teams-laden first period, action opened up in the second. Charlotte swiftly brought the crowd to its feet after what they thought was the game’s first goal, but Will Lockwood’s backhand strike was disallowed due to goaltender interference.
Colin White earned an excellent opportunity to put the Penguins on the board with a shorthanded breakaway at the 14-minute mark of the middle frame. However, White was stymied by Checkers goalie Spencer Knight. Knight made several other clutch stops on the Penguins before the second intermission.
Offense erupted early in the third, with the Atlantic Division foes combining for three goals in 99 seconds of gametime.
First, Austin Rueschhoff potted the Penguins’ first goal of the season, rifling a wrister past Knight 1:52 into the final frame. Jonathan Gruden extended Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lead at 3:17, but Lockwood responded for Charlotte a mere 14 seconds later.
Leading by one goal, the Penguins’ clamped down on the penalty kill during a third-period man-advantage opportunity for the Checkers. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finished the night a perfect four-for-four on the P.K., including that key kill in the final frame.
Xavier Ouellet buried an empty-net goal for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 1:23 remaining, following by another empty netter from Dmitri Samorukov. Charlotte tacked on another tally to save face with eight seconds left in regulation.
Magnus Hellberg earned the win in net for the Penguins, recording 26 saves in his debut with the club. Knight finished with 25 saves for the Checkers.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Charlotte will duke it out again in a rematch tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 14. Game time for the Penguins’ second contest of the season is 6:00 p.m. at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
The Penguins will host their home opener on Saturday, Oct. 21 against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Puck drop will be 6:05 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Season-ticket packages for the Penguins’ 25th season of hockey are on sale now. Full-Season, 22-game, 12-game, Flexbook and Premium Seating plans are available by reaching out to the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367. Individual-game tickets are also available by visiting Ticketmaster.com, the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office or calling the Penguins’ front office at (570) 208-7367.