Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hockey fans will get the chance to see top NHL talent in their own backyard when the Pittsburgh Penguins play in the "Black and Gold Game" Thursday night at the Wachovia Arena.
“I’m excited about it,” head coach Dan Bylsma said about the special intrasquad game. “I’m going to leave (from Pittsburgh Wednesday afternoon), and get back there early.”
Wilkes-Barre fans were eager to see superstars Sidney Crosby
and Evengi Malkin come to town, and the game sold out quickly.
“I definitely expected it,” Brooks Orpik
said about the sellout. “I think ever since they got a team there, and the new building, they’ve always had really good fan support.”
Many current Penguins stars, Orpik included, have come through Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and the Black and Gold Game gives players a chance reconnect with the hockey community there.
“It means a lot (to the fans),” WBS veteran Tyler Kennedy
said. “Everyone treated me well there. It was a great place to live, and a great place to play. I’m excited to come back.”
“It should be fun. I played my first pre-season game there,” Sidney Crosby
said. “It’s a good memory. I’m sure their fans will really enjoy (the game). It’ll be a competitive game. It should be good.”
The youngest captain to ever win a Stanley Cup, Crosby will lead one of the teams. He will go up against the NHL’s reigning scoring champion, Evgeni Malkin
, and his team.
The Stanley Cup will also be at the Wachovia Arena Thursday. Bylsma is thrilled to bring the Cup to town for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans to see.
It’s a unique experience. It’s another level exponentially,” Bylsma said. “To bring it back to Wilkes-Barre, to Jeff Barrett (CEO of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins), I wish (the trip) was longer than 36 hours.”
The Black and Gold Game also gives Bylsma a chance to revisit some good friends and rehash some memories from his two plus-seasons with the Baby Penguins.
“That’s the roots for me,” Bylsma said. “(There are) a lot of great people there, great memories about the team, a great team down there. I’m excited about the next day-and-a-half.”
The puck drops Thursday at 7:05, and all proceeds from the game go to the Penguins/United Way charity fund.