Although the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have yet to face the Manchester Monarchs this season, one player will be very familiar with the new foe when the two teams take to the ice tonight.
Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff spent the first three-and-a-half seasons of his career with Manchester before signing with the Penguins this summer. Getting the chance to face his former teammates, Zatkoff said, would provide some extra motivation.
It's going to be different. I've never been in this situation before, Zatkoff said. I played against teammates from college before, but never against a whole team. It's exciting.
After Thursday's practice, head coach John Hynes still hadn't decided if Zatkoff or Brad Thiessen would get the start against Manchester. If Zatkoff gets the nod, it could offer a slight advantage on paper.
But on the ice it's a different story, he said.
I know the guys there and their tendencies, but a lot of things can happen in a game, Zatkoff said. Guys are under pressure and they don't always do what they normally do.
Regardless of the familiarity with Manchester, Zatkoff said the Penguins need to start stringing some wins together as they continue to recover from a 0-4 start.
In Manchester, they will face a team sitting atop the Atlantic Division with a 5-1 record. After a practice day on Saturday, the Penguins will take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Connecticut on Sunday.
The Bridgeport game will be a rematch of when the two teams met on Oct. 20. The Penguins lost that meeting 3-2.
While there may be an advantage for Zatkoff in facing Manchester, there's also a benefit to facing Bridgeport for a second time.
You always feel more comfortable going into a game after you've played that team already, Hynes said. You have an idea of what to expect as opposed to just scouting on video.
Veteran Warren Peters said there is a factor that will play out this weekend no matter who the Penguins are facing. Something that's bigger than the matchup, he said.
We're getting to the point where we're trying to build an identity and the opponent doesn't matter when it comes to applying it, Peters said. If we execute the game the way we want to play, we should be able to control the game no matter who we're playing against.
• The Penguins will face the Monarchs in Manchester at 7 p.m. today. They then travel to Bridgeport to play the Sound Tigers at 3 p.m. Sunday. Both games can be heard on 102.3 the Mountain or AHLLive.com.
• Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Joey Mormina wants you to help in the fight against prostate cancer.
Mormina will be showing his support for those fighting prostate cancer by growing a mustache for the month of November. The Penguins are asking fans to help put an end to prostate cancer by donating to Mormina's Mustache Mania.
The Penguins will be accepting donations through the end of November at Joey's GoFundMe page. All funds raised will be donated to the local office of the American Cancer Society in support of their Man-To-Man program. Donations will also be accepted at Penguins home games during the month of November.
Fans can follow along with his progress by checking out daily growth photos at wbspenguins.com and the Penguins Facebook Page.
Mormina's Mustache Mania will culminate on Nov. 24, when the Penguins take on the Toronto Marlies at 7:05 p.m. The first 5,000 fans entering the gates that night will receive special Mormina Mustaches to show their support of Joey and his efforts to wipe out prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society will be at the game registering participants for the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS3). More information on this long-term study into cancer prevention, as well as pre-registration surveys, can be found at www.penguinsfightcancer.org
To get your tickets for Mormina's Mustache Mania, call the Penguins at 208-7367.
WBS Penguins at Manchester
WBS Penguins at Bridgeport