Last Thursday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins released their schedule for the 2011-2012 season, their 13th in the American Hockey League.
The Penguins will open the season at home on Saturday, October 8 against divisional rivals the Hershey Bears. They have another home game the next day, Sunday, October 9, against the Connecticut Whale.
Highlighting the Penguins’ schedule are four games against the St. John’s Ice Caps, the newest addition to the AHL and the affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets. St. John’s returns to the AHL after a six-year absence. They previously played as the St. John’s Maple Leafs from 1991-2005.
WBS also plays at home on New Year’s Eve against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Long-time WBS forward Tim Wallace signed with the Sound Tigers’ NHL affiliate, the New York Islanders, over the summer and could very well be in a Bridgeport uniform for this match-up. The game is scheduled for a special 5:05 p.m. start time.
The Penguins will not play a divisional rival from last year, the Charlotte Checkers. The Checkers moved to the West Division as a result of re-alignment. However, the Pens will face the Portland Pirates, who they did not play in the 2011-12 season. The Penguins and the Pirates will play each other four times this year.
This is the first year the AHL is playing with a shortened, 76-game regular season schedule. All teams will play 38 home games and 38 road games. This allows more rest for players and eliminates stretches of four games in five days. There will also be an extra week added to the season, which will end on April 15, 2012.
Before the Penguins kick off the regular season, they will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in Black and Gold Game II on Monday, September 19. This is a chance to see Pittsburgh players such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal sport Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jerseys. In 2009, the exhibition game sold out before tickets went on sale to the public. However, this year, tickets are still available as of this writing.
In addition, the Penguins have home preseason games on Friday, September 30 against the Bears and on Sunday, October 2 against the Adirondack Phantoms.
A preview of the Penguins’ 2011-2012 season will be posted in late September or early October.