Celebrating the Top 5 Moments in the WBS Penguins’ History

wbs penguins history blog
18 Mar, 24

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have come a long way since the team’s first game at the Northeastern Pennsylvania Civic Arena and Convention Center, now known as Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Over the years, they have become more than just an affiliate of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. The WBS Penguins have carved out their own place in the American Hockey League (AHL). They continue to be one of the strong contenders for the Calder Cup.

The WBS Penguins’ history is full of legends like Dennis Bonvie, Alain Nasreddine, John Slaney, and Tom Kostopoulos. But in this blog, we’re sharing the moments that have defined their legacy as a team. These are the moments that have earned the WBS Penguins a loyal fan base throughout North America.

Without further ado, here are the top five moments in the WBS Penguins’ history.

1. Inaugural Season and First Game

The inaugural season, especially the first game, is one of the most memorable moments in the WBS Penguins’ history. On November 13, 1999, the game officially brought professional ice hockey to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.

The then Northeastern Pennsylvania Civic Arena and Convention Center was packed. The buzz of excitement reached its peak as Greg Crozier netted the first goal in the arena’s history at 3:24 of the first period. Dennis Bonvie and Valentin Morozov assisted him on the score. But the game-winning goal came by Mike Pomichter, which helped the WBS Penguins cement their name in history. The boys had a terrific start to their first season with a 4-2 win over the Kentucky Thoroughbreds.

2. First Calder Cup Finals Appearance

How can we forget about the team’s first Calder Cup appearance? The Calder Cup is the most coveted prize in the AHL. The WBS Penguins team went to the finals for the first time in the 2000-01 season. It was almost a year and a half after they played their first game.

The journey to the finals was anything but easy. After reaching the playoffs, they earned a nail-biting 3-2 win against the Syracuse Crunch. WBS Penguins ended their third and final playoff match of that season with a landslide victory (4-0) over the Hershey Bears.

The Calder Cup Final ended on May 28, 2001. Although the WBS Penguins had a terrific season, where they overcame the odds, they lost the finals to the Saint John Flames. The SJF recorded their first and only Calder Cup victory.

While the WBS Penguins team didn’t win the cup, Chris Kelleher set an AHL playoff record for points scored by a defenseman in one playoff. He managed to score 7 goals and 18 assists.

3. Calder Cup Finalist Seasons

The WBS Penguins have reached the Calder Cup Finals three times. Their first final was in the 2000-01 season when they lost against the Saint John Flames. The second time they reached the final was in the 2003-04 season. It was one of the most memorable seasons in the WBS Penguins’ history.

In the 2003-04 season, the WBS Penguins defeated the Bridgeport Islanders 4-3 in a thrilling first round of playoffs. They won the second playoff round against the Philadelphia Phantoms (4-2) and the third against the Hartford Wolf Pack (4-3). Unfortunately, the Milwaukee Admirals defeated them in the finals.

The WBS Penguins entered the finals for the third time in the 2007-08 season. This season was marked by the team’s exceptional performance and the dramatic playoff games. But the elusive Calder Cup remained a dream for the team once again. They lost the final to the Chicago Wolves 2-4.

4. The Regular Season Tie in 2001

This regular season tie is arguably one of the most memorable milestones in the WBS Penguins’ ice hockey journey. After the first two periods, the formidable-looking St. Johns Maple Leafs were still leading the game 7-3. Almost every WBS Penguins fan had left the arena, thinking the team would not bounce back from this loss.

But they were wrong. After regulation, the WBS Penguins team turned the tide around. They managed to clinch an equalizer with 7-7. The game went into five minutes of overtime, which did not produce any goals from either side. So, the game ended in a tie. If anything, this game shows that anything is possible in ice hockey – or in any sport for that matter.

5. 2010-11 Regular Season Dominance

The 2010-11 regular season was when the WBS Penguins showed dominance rarely seen in the AHL. The season witnessed many extraordinary victories and record-breaking moments. The WBS Penguins recorded 58 wins in this season while losing only 21 times. The team managed to collect 117 points and scored 261 goals.

This exceptional performance earned the WBS Penguins team the first spot in the Eastern Division. Unfortunately, the team fell short of capitalizing on this momentum. They got knocked out of the playoffs after losing to the Charlotte Checkers in the second round. Yet, this remains one of the most successful regular seasons of the WBS Penguins’ ice hockey journey.

Keep Cheering for the WBS Penguins

These were some of the best moments in the WBS Penguins’ ice hockey journey. It’s our way of paying homage to a team that has been a part of ice hockey for decades. Of course, the legacy of the WBS Penguins goes well beyond these five memorable milestones. What other achievements can you think of? Feel free to share the moments that you believe honor the dedication, effort, and discipline shown by our team.

And, of course, keep cheering for your favorite ice hockey team and see the WBS Penguins take the ice in-person. Check the schedule and get your tickets today!

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