Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins Franchise History
Many WBS Penguins fans likely remember our very first season in 1999 and even back when our home arena was still being constructed. However, there may be fewer people who are familiar with the teams that came before us. While we’re finishing up our 23rd season now, our franchise goes back even further. So, how did we become the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate? Let’s take a look back at the history of our franchise.
The first team in the franchise, the Fredericton Express, had its first season in 1981. Located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the Fredericton Express was the affiliate team of the Quebec Nordiques, which would later be moved to Denver Colorado and become the Colorado Avalanche, and the Vancouver Canucks. Their final season was the 1987–88 season, during which they made it to the Calder Cup Finals, where they lost to the Hershey Bears. They won the F. G. “Teddy” Oke Trophy for being the regular-season champions in the North Division twice. Following the end of their 1987–88 season, the team was relocated and became the Halifax Citadels.
The 1988-89 season was the first for the Halifax Citadels, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This follows a previous Halifax AHL team, the Nova Scotia Oilers, relocating to Cape Breton. The Halifax Citadels were the AHL affiliate of the Quebec Nordiques and played until the 1992-93 season. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team the Halifax Mooseheads would fill the void the Citadels left in the area starting in the 1994-95 season. During the 2021-22 season, the Halifax Mooseheads paid tribute to the Citadels by wearing throwback jerseys during a game.
The Halifax Citadels relocated to Cornwall, Ontario, for the 1993-94 season and operated until 1996. From 1993 to 1995, the Cornwall Aces were the AHL affiliate team for the Quebec Nordiques and stayed with the franchise when the team relocated and became the Colorado Avalanche in the 1995-96 season. Following their last season, the franchise remained dormant until 1999. Before this, the International Hockey League team, the Cleveland Lumberjacks, was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top affiliate league. However, the IHL was transitioning away from being a developmental league, so the Penguins purchased the dormant franchise to become their new AHL affiliate.
Get Tickets for the Remainder of Our Season
There have been many AHL teams throughout the United States and Canada over the years. Some franchises have stopped their operations over the years, while many current franchises were around for a while before ours began in 1981, the WBS Penguins has one of the longest-running tenures out of current AHL teams. The Hershey Bears, founded in 1938, and the Rochester Americans, founded in 1956, have both played in their current cities for their entire existence. The other current teams that predate the WBS Penguins are Providence Bruins, founded in 1992, the Syracuse Crunch, founded in 1994, and the Hartford Wolfpack, founded in 1997.
You can still catch a game in our 23rd season. See what games are left and order your tickets today!