New-look Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins ready to get season underway


WBS opens the 2015-16 season Friday in Providence

Kevin Porter shoots the puck during Penguins practice earlier this week. The Penguins open the regular season on Friday against the Providence Bruins.


Pete G. Wilcox| Times Leader

Gill signs with Pens

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins signed forward Sahir Gill to an American Hockey League contract on Thursday.

Gill participated in training camp with the Penguins and was the only player to dress in all four of the Penguins preseason games. He earned two goals and two assists in exhibition play. A native of Terrace, BC, Gill appeared in 12 games with the Penguins during the 2014-15 season while on loan from the Wheeling Nailers, netting three points (one goal, two assists.)

In two seasons with Wheeling, the former Boston University Terrier recorded 22 goals, 61 assists for 83 points in 93 games. Gill led the Nailers in points (54) during his first professional season after college, 2013-14. Gill also dressed in 25 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15, scoring two goals and adding two assists.

Tom Kostopoulos has been a part of seven opening night rosters as a member of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Number eight might be the best.

“I’ve seen some good lineups in my time here,” said Kostopoulos, who begins his eighth season with the Penguins on Friday. “The depth and talent, this one might be the best.”

The 2015-16 Penguins features eight forwards who hit double-digits in goals last season, three defenseman who posted 20 or more points in a season at least once in their AHL careers, and Matt Murray in net, the league’s top goaltender last year. Seven of the 25 players on the roster were drafted in the third round or higher, including two – Derrick Pouliot and Tyler Biggs, who were 1st round picks.

“We have the makings to be a very good team,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “The rest is up to us to make sure that happens.”

After a quick training camp and preseason, the Penguins open the season Friday against the Providence Bruins. Sullivan has juggled this week of practice between teaching his system and game strategy against the Bruins, who are now Atlantic Division rivals thanks to the AHL realignment.

For one Penguins player, the game is a bit of a homecoming. Defenseman David Warsofsky signed with the Penguins this summer after spending the last four seasons with Providence.

“I knew it was going to happen because they’re in the same division, but maybe not this quickly,” Warsofsky said. “I enjoyed Providence and I’m excited about playing there.”

After Friday’s season opener, the Penguins travel to Bridgeport on Saturday for another divisional matchup against the Sound Tigers. For a team that has experienced significant turnover in the coaching staff and the roster, starting the season with a weekend on the road isn’t necessarily a bad thing, according to Sullivan.

“We’ll see what we’re made of,” he said. “On the road they’ll have an opportunity to get on the bus, have a team meal and get to know each other. Some of the best times to bond as a group is when you travel. It will be a challenge and we’re going into some tough buildings, but it will be an opportunity for our guys to get to know each other better.”

While the home fans won’t get to see the Penguins in action at the Mohegan Sun Arena until the Oct. 17 opener against Lehigh Valley, Sullivan offered a sneak peek of what to expect.

“A highly entertaining team that’s fun to watch. A group of guys that’s easy to root for,” he said. “What impresses me most about this group so far is I can tell just by their body language they’re totally vested in what’s going on here.”

Kevin Porter shoots the puck during Penguins practice earlier this week. The Penguins open the regular season on Friday against the Providence Bruins.
http://timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/web1_penguins_porter.jpgKevin Porter shoots the puck during Penguins practice earlier this week. The Penguins open the regular season on Friday against the Providence Bruins. Pete G. Wilcox| Times Leader
WBS opens the 2015-16 season Friday in Providence

By Tom Venesky

[email protected]

Gill signs with Pens

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins signed forward Sahir Gill to an American Hockey League contract on Thursday.

Gill participated in training camp with the Penguins and was the only player to dress in all four of the Penguins preseason games. He earned two goals and two assists in exhibition play. A native of Terrace, BC, Gill appeared in 12 games with the Penguins during the 2014-15 season while on loan from the Wheeling Nailers, netting three points (one goal, two assists.)

In two seasons with Wheeling, the former Boston University Terrier recorded 22 goals, 61 assists for 83 points in 93 games. Gill led the Nailers in points (54) during his first professional season after college, 2013-14. Gill also dressed in 25 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15, scoring two goals and adding two assists.

Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TLTomVenesky

Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TLTomVenesky