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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Looking Ahead: WBS Pens Game of the Month

The start of the 2017-2018 hockey season is unfortunately still months away. However, the AHL schedule has just been released. Now is the time to bust out your google calendar and let me convince you which games are worth checking out.

Wilkes-Barre isn’t that bad of a drive from Pittsburgh (~5 hours) and is so worth a trip. Tickets are cheap, the local food is great, and the team is fantastic.  If you’re planning a trip to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in my fair city here are you best bets for each month of which game to check out:

Friday October 13th home versus the Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Samuel Morin about to trip over the blue line. 

This is easily the game of the month for October, plus Pittsburgh isn’t playing that evening. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are the Flyers AHL team and the Pens/Flyers blood feud has been flowing steadily at the AHL level since 1999 when the Penguins first broke into the league, and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were the Philadelphia Phantoms.  Chose a reason to hate the Phantoms: they have a hulking 6’7 cheap shot artist named  Samuel Morin on defense,  they won the Calder Cup in the lockout year,  or simply the fact that they wear orange and ARE the Flyers.  If the Pens win, drive down to Allentown Saturday October 14th to rub it in and watch the Pens play them again, or if the Pens lose drive down to Allentown Saturday October 14th to seek revenge.

Sunday November 5th home versus the Hershey Bears

Look at their smug nondescript banners, gross. 

 The Penguins biggest rival is the Hershey Bears, the primary affiliate of the Washington Capitals. The Hershey Bears have enjoyed unprecedented success in the AHL and have won a disgusting amount of Calder Cups (11) versus the 0 that WBS has won. In many ways the WBS Pens are the Capitals of the AHL, especially after posting the best record in the league last season and being eliminated in the 2nd round. This rivalry is hostile on the ice and in the stands. This is a must see game.  Also, face off is Sunday at 3pm. Pittsburgh will be traveling back from a Western Canada road trip and your schedule will certainly be wide open for this.

Friday December 1st home versus the Milwaukee Admirals

This will get you banned from WBS ice for 10 years. 

Rather than watch Pittsburgh play an AHL game team tonight (The Buffalo Sabres) check out the Ads first appearance in WBS in over 10 years. The Ads are the AHL Affiliate of the Nashville Predators so this will be billed as the AHL Stanley Cup Final rematch. Deep down, die hards know it really is the 2004 Calder Cup Final Rematch. For more details on how that went(hint BADLY is an understatement).

Saturday January 27th. home versus the Binghamton  Senators Devils

Won't miss this creep. 

 Sure it’s the same day as the NHL All Star Game Skills Competition, but let’s be honest that’s still super boring to watch. The Binghamton Devils are a brand new AHL team. Binghamton used to have the Senators,  but they have since moved on to better pastures in Belleville, Ontario. Binghamton is high on the WBS Pens rival list, and the Devils suck making this new AHL team tops  of the garbage pile and worthy of your hatred in person.  

Sunday February 25th home versus the Hershey Bears

Tom Sestito talking to some mutants. 

Pittsburgh is off. There is hockey on at 3 pm on a Sunday, and the Pens are playing their biggest rival for the umpteenth time this season. Tempers will flair and fans will be angry. These games are always a must see.

Sunday March 18th home versus the Hershey Bears

Par for the course. 

Pittsburgh is off again. Luckily there is another Sunday game at 3 pm against the Bears. If you have never seen the WBS Pens play the Hershey Bears you haven’t lived and I’m quite certain you’re actively avoiding them at this point.

Saturday April 7th home versus the Binghamton Devils

Better than the Sens logo, but still painfully dull. 

 The NHL regular season is over. This is the last home game for the WBS Penguins. Likely the WBS Pens will have secured a playoff spot. Equally likely is that the Devils will be out a playoff spot. There is nothing like pouring salt into the wounds of rivals.  Plus there is a solid chance you’ll win a jersey or other prize thanks to the end of the year give away night. What’s not to like?

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