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Winter Classic Week to Feature AHL-NCAA Doubleheader on December 30 at CONSOL Energy Center

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
A unique doubleheader featuring an American Hockey League game and an NCAA Division I game will be played Thursday, Dec. 30 at CONSOL Energy Center – part of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ weeklong celebration of hockey in the week leading up to the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic.

Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University, which last year shocked the college hockey world by upsetting No. 1 Miami, will take on 2010 NCAA Frozen Four participant RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) in the college game at 3 p.m.

The Penguins’ AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, will then meet the rival Hershey Bears in the minor pro game at 7:30 p.m. Hershey is the Washington Capitals’ AHL affiliate.

The Penguins and Capitals will play in the Bridgestone Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Heinz Field.

“This is the first of a series of events we’ll be announcing to celebrate all levels of hockey in the week leading up to the Winter Classic,” said James Santilli, the Penguins’ vice president of marketing. “The doubleheader is a great way to showcase AHL hockey and NCAA hockey and give those players the opportunity to play in a new NHL arena.”

One ticket will allow fans to attend both games of the doubleheader. Ticket pricing and an on-sale date will be announced in the near future.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey have developed a strong AHL interstate rivalry over the years, and the teams will feature top prospects from both the Penguins and Capitals organizations.

“The opportunity to participate in the festivities leading up to the Bridgestone Winter Classic is one we couldn’t pass up,” said Jeff Barrett, CEO of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. “Not only will the fans in Pittsburgh get to see some of the future Penguins stars, they’ll also get to experience one of the greatest rivalries in the American Hockey League. Games between the Penguins and Bears are nearly as intense as those played between the NHL Penguins and Capitals. This will be the perfect lead-in to the outdoor contest being played two days later.”

Robert Morris and RIT will combine to provide a glimpse of the excitement of NCAA Division I hockey in the first game of the doubleheader

“We are very excited that the Penguins have asked us to participate in this special hockey event,” Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. “We feel this is going to be a great event for our student athletes as well as our university. We are privileged to be able to be part of such a wonderful event.

RIT last year won the Atlantic Hockey Association title, earned a berth in the Frozen Four and finished ranked as the No. 10 team in the country.

“This is a great opportunity and I am proud that our program gets to be a part of the Winter Classic events,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson, the 2010 NCAA Division I coach of the year. “We play a very good team in Robert Morris in a brand new, state-of-the-art arena, which will be a great experience for us.”

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