The wife and I recently traveled to Wilkes-Barre for a weekend away to take in a WBS Pens game at the Mohegan Sun Arena against the Portland Pirates. I've always wanted to go out there and see another part of the cog that is the Penguins machine. Needless to say, we didn't come away disappointed. Just wanted to fill you in on our experience over there.
We had attended the Pens Prospect Camp at the Consol this past summer, so we were familiar with some of the names, along with some guys we've seen get callups. After a slow start and getting down 2-0 (sound familiar?), the Pens battled back to make it 2-1 at the end of the first period. After Portland made it 3-1 going into the third, the Pens started to battle back and were rewarded with a goal to close the gap to 3-2 midway through the period. The momentum really shifted and they tied it up with 2 minutes to go. With all the energy on their side, they ended it quickly, striking 30 seconds into overtime to win the game.
I followed the WBS Pens casually before, now I am definitely a fan.
The atmosphere at the Arena was fun and the place really began to buzz when the Pens were on the Comeback Trail. Just a great energy to the building. Not too many corporate suits and people who just wanna be "cool" cause they're at a game, like the Consol gets many of sometimes. Like any place, it has it's share of yinzers. Like the old man and his wife in front of us, who wanted interference on every play and left midway through the third with the Pens trailing by 2. I laugh at you, and every hockey fan who leaves a close game early.
The food and souveneirs were simple, the "jumbotron" reminded me of the old Civic Arena, but it took me back to a simpler time. We're a little spoiled at the CEC with our huge HD screen, high tech graphics and expensive burger places. It was nice to get back to a simpler hockey experience. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
The mascot, Tux, very entertaining. A little crazy, but entertaining indeed.
After the game, we went to Lucky's for a few drinks and saw Ben Street eating with his family. Hockey players are regular people!!!
Had an opportunity to help a great cause too. The WBS Pens were supporting the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society by selling wristbands and raffle tickets for a signed Mario jersey. The cause hit close to home for them because Chris Kobella, the Season Ticket Sales Executive, is battling the disease himself. Chris dropped the ceremonial puck before the game and was helping to sell the wristbands at intermission. I went to the booth and bought a few off him. I was glad I had the brief opportunity to shake his hand and wish him luck. All the best to Chris.
You can see the Baby Pens follow the same style of play the Pens do. The defenseman pinch up when they see the oppurtunity and they are best when playing a puck possession, offensive game. But they picked up the physical play and hitting when they needed to also.
Hard to say much from a one game sample, but we have a few new favorite WBS Pens players. A few forwards that stood out to me with their hard work were Zach Sill, Paul Thompson, Ryan Craig, Bryan Lerg, Brandon DeFazio, and Geoff Walker. Joey Mormina, Brian Strait, and Alex Grant showed some solid play from the blueline. Unfortunetly, we didn't get to see 2 guys I would have liked to in Simon Despres and Philip Samuelsson who were out due to injury. Now will we see any of the aforementioned guys in the Pittsburgh Penguins uniform someday? Time will tell, like I said, it's hard to say much after one game.
I'd definitely like to go back someday and I absolutely recommend going out to any Pens fans thinking of going.
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