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Penguins Report: WBS Scrimmage

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins descended upon the Coal Street Complex in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. for the start of training camp.

The players (camp roster here) arrived Thursday evening for a team meeting and medical testing. They hit the ice for the first time Friday to lay the building blocks for a Calder Cup run.

Follow the Penguins Report throughout the day for updates on the opening of camp.

The WBS Penguins held their first intra-squad scrimmage of training camp with two 15-minute periods on Sunday afternoon.

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma was behind the bench for Team White. The rest of his lineup consisted of forwards Cody Chupp, Philippe Dupuis, Benn Ferriero, Riley Holzapfel, Jayson Megna, Michael Neal, Zach Sill, Dominik Uher and Scott Zurevinski and defensemen Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Dumoulin, Reid McNeill, Joe Morrow and Carl Sneep.

Player development coach Bill Guerin manned the bench for Team Black. His roster featured forwards Beau Bennett, Brian Gibbons, Tom Kuhnhackl, Denver Manderson, Warren Peters, Adam Payerl, Trevor Smith, Eric Tangradi, Paul Thompson and Keven Veilleux.

The three goalies (Brad Thiessen, Jeff Zatkoff and Patrick Killeen) rotated with the squads.

WBS coaches John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine evaluated the game from the stands.

The two sides remained scoreless at the conclusion of the scrimmage. A shootout commenced to decide the winner. Thompson and Holzapfel traded scores to keep it tied following four rounds of action. In the fifth round of the shootout Eric Tangradi roofed a top-shelf shot past Killeen and Thiessen stopped Chupp to give Team Black a 1-0 victory.

A few notes to takeaway from the scrimmage…

  • I was really impressed with the fast-paced and intense nature of the scrimmage. Camp is only three days old, but there was a lot of hard hitting, hustle and energy. The competition level was awesome from both squads.
  • One forward combo featured Tangradi-Smith-Bennett. I love the makeup of that line. It has a great blend of size, speed and skill. Should be a deadly trio for opponents to deal with.
  • Another player to keep an eye on is Megna. He has tremendous speed and skill. Plus, he’s a smart hockey player. His ability to read and anticipate the play is exceptional. Remember his name.
  • Reese showed a keen ability to read the play and jump up into the action. He provided rush supported on occasions and even sneaked in the backdoor for a great setup play. Reese’s two-way defensive style seems to be a perfect fit with the Penguins aggressive, attacking system.
  • I can’t get over how brilliant Morrow is with the puck. He coolly skates through traffic with ease. He keeps his head up, his skating is smooth and his stick handling looks effortless. It’s hard not to fall in love with his talent. 



On his impressions of the scrimmage:
I thought the pace was very good. The guys definitely competed. You could tell they were very excited to play and get into some live competition. The nice thing also was that a lot of the things we instilled in the first two days, you could see they were very effective in the game, that guys were trying to execute what we were teaching.

On Tangradi-Smith-Bennett:
(Staying together) is a possibility. I think all through preseason, we’re trying to give guys different looks in terms of where they play and put them in different situations where we think they should be fairly effective. Those guys looked good today. But I think as the preseason goes on, they will play more together, but we’ll also switch it up and try different combos.

On the rookies:
They’ve done a nice job so far. As far as being able to keep up with the pace of play, understanding how we want to play, they’ve done a nice job trying to not only work hard, but implement and be able to execute in live game situations. It’s nice because they’ve been to the development camps and rookie camps, so they have a fairly good idea. They’ve done a nice job so far. It’s early, but they look pretty good.
On looking forward to getting preseason games going this week:
We threw a lot at the players. We’ve had quite a bit of meetings. We’ve had some pretty intense practices. So it’s nice they get a day off (Monday) and can kind of get refreshed and rejuvenated. Then we really go into preseason games, and I think that’s exciting for everybody and everybody is looking forward to that.


On his impressions of the scrimmage:
I think you could tell that the players were anxious to play a game. Everyone thought it was a pretty good pace. I was pretty impressed. I didn’t expect anything less. But what I was impressed with was that you could tell the players were trying to do what we tried to implement the last couple days. They tried to play the system, and I was very happy with that.

On the young defensemen:
It’s impressive to see young guys coming in. In a game where it’s probably their first scrimmage of the year, they’re trying to impress, but they’re still trying to implement what we’ve been preaching and teaching. So I was really happy with the younger guys. It was a good pace, the work ethic was there and you can see there’s a lot of good, promising young prospects.

On what they’re trying to implement:
It’s all about Pittsburgh systems. There’s a system in place in Pittsburgh and it’s the same down here in Wilkes-Barre. Right now, as we all know, there’s a lockout, but whether they start here in Wilkes-Barre and end up in Pittsburgh, it makes that call-up seamless. When they go up to Pittsburgh, it’s easier to play and just focus on the game.


On his impressions of the scrimmage:
It was good to put everything that they’re teaching us right now into a game-like situation. You saw a lot of us D working together in the corners making crisp breakout passes. Some of the stuff they’re teaching us now, it felt good to put it into a game-like style.


On getting to scrimmage after a long summer:
Yeah, finally. It’s like we’ve been waiting all summer to play a game. We had some refs out there. It wasn’t quite an exact game, but it’s fun to get going again.


Zatkoff watches a shot sail wide of the cage

Dupuis heads up ice

Thiessen about to make a save

Michael Neal (bro of James)

Coach Guerin for Team Black

Coach Bylsma for Team White

--Sam Kasan/Michelle Crechiolo


The Pens website crew had a great time covering the opening of WBS training camp. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. And hopefully, you’ve enjoyed the coverage as much as we did reporting it.

I have to say that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staff was a gracious and benevolent host. They helped us find working space and accommodated our many, many, many media requests, as well as taking us around the city (and they weren’t even angry when our camera operator set off the building alarm). We definitely appreciate the efforts of Brian Coe and Tom Grace. And a very special thank you goes to Mike O’Brien, who went above and beyond to assist us with anything and everything we needed. Mike did an incredible job and our great coverage wouldn’t have been possible without his help.

The biggest thank you goes to head coach John Hynes for letting us cover his team, as well as giving us incredible access to bring fans the best coverage of the WBS Penguins training camp. Coach Hynes is not only the best coach in the American Hockey League, but an incredible person as well. He’s as genuine and amicable as any person you’ll ever meet. Coach Hynes has real character and is a joy to be around.

I also want to thank Jason Botterill, Dan Bylsma, Dana Heinze, Mike Kadar, Josh Richards, the rest of WBS staff and, of course, all the players for taking time out of their days to talk to us.

--Pens web staff

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