Welcome to the first edition of Baby Penguins Banter for the month of September!
The American Hockey League rolled out their regular season schedule last week. This edition will be devoted to looking at some of the most notable games on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2010-2011 season schedule.
Mark your calendar to follow the Baby Penguins on these dates:
October 9, 2010: Penguins vs. Hershey Bears
Saturday, October 9 marks the Penguins home opener against the Hershey Bears.
The Bears are the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals and are the defending two-time Calder Cup champions. The Penguins have put up some remarkable efforts against Hershey in the regular season (they even won a game 5-0 this past February) but have struggled against them in the playoffs.
Both teams already have a drastically different look from last season.
Last year, the Penguins were mostly made up of players with limited professional experience. Now, those players are another year older and wiser and know a little more about what Hershey brings to the table.
Hershey, who has been dominant for the last two AHL seasons, was depleted over the summer. The Bears’ most significant loss was offensive powerhouse Alexandre Giroux, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers organization. They also lost Kyle Wilson (to Columbus), Chris Bourque (to Europe), and Greg Amadio (to Detroit).
The Penguins will need to win this game to leave a good impression on their fanbase, who were largely dissatisfied with the 2009-2010 season. They will also have to show the Bears that they can compete with them during the 10-game season series.
October 15 and 17, 2010: Penguins at Charlotte Checkers
The Penguins will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on one of the AHL’s newest teams, the Charlotte Checkers.
Charlotte is the new affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, who decided to relocate their AHL team to North Carolina for the 2010-2011 season.
The Checkers are in the East Division with the Penguins, and the two teams will square off eight times this season, starting with these two meetings.
December 12, 2010: Penguins at Albany Devils
Get out your poker chips and take a spin at the slot machine! On December 12, the Penguins will travel to Atlantic City to take on the Albany Devils, AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.
AHL hockey is not new to the city of Albany. For several years, New York’s capital was home to the Albany River Rats. The River Rats were originally affiliated with the Devils but became the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes prior to the 2006-2007 season.
Last year, Carolina made the decision to move their AHL affiliate to Charlotte, North Carolina. The new team will be the Charlotte Checkers, who spent several seasons in the ECHL but will switch leagues for the 2010-2011 season.
This will not be the first time this season that the Penguins will square off against the Devils. However, what makes this game exciting is that it will be played in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Boardwalk Hall has not hosted a hockey game since the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies of the ECHL closed up shop in 2005.
December 30, 2010: Penguins vs. Hershey Bears
You may think this is just an ordinary home game for the Pennsylvania rivals, but it’s more than that.
The Penguins will head to Pittsburgh to play a “home” game in the Consol Energy Center, the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will be held as part of a hockey doubleheader two days before the 2011 Winter Classic.
The game will also mark the first time Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has played in Pittsburgh since the 2001-2002 season. That year, they took on the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks at Mellon Arena and wore Pittsburgh Hornets throw back jerseys.
January 21, 2011: Penguins at Adirondack Phantoms
On January 21, the Penguins will take on the Adirondack Phantoms, AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The Flyers’ AHL affiliate was formerly based in Philadelphia and known as the Philadelphia Phantoms. The team left for Glens Falls, New York for the 2009-2010 season due to the upcoming demolition of the Wachovia Spectrum.
The Penguins previously played at Wachovia Center during the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs, and this game marks their first trip back since then.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton recently signed Geoff Walker and Ben Street to AHL contracts.
Walker spent last season with the Manchester Monarchs, the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, and the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ ECHL affiliate. He had 14 points in 37 games with the Monarchs and 23 points in 26 games with the Reign.
Street will be entering his first year of professional hockey after spending five years at the University of Wisconsin. He had 30 points in 43 games and tied his career high from the 2007-2008 season.
Are there any Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins topics you want to hear about in a future edition of Baby Penguins Banter?
Do you have any questions about the players who will be on the team this year?
Let me know in the comments or drop me a message.