HERSHEY –While the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears alumni both enjoyed the outdoor experience on Saturday, the current Penguins enjoyed a unique experience of their own earlier in the day.
The Penguins practiced in the old Hershey Arena, which was built in 1936 and was the home of the Bears until 2002.
While Saturday's practice was all business for the Penguins, they couldn't help but admire the old building.
It's an awesome building, said defenseman Dylan Reese, who practiced at the building in the past with other teams. This is probably my favorite building to skate in. It's got the old scoreboard, old stands and no nets behind the glass. It's a special place.
For head coach John Hynes, Saturday's practice was his first time being in the old barn.
I wish we had an opportunity to play here, Hynes said. It'd be great to play a Hershey-Wilkes-Barre game in this type of environment.
• Hynes said Jeff Zatkoff will start in goal for today's game. Warren Peters is doubtful to play and Phil Dupuis is out, he said.
• While today's outdoor game is full of nostalgia, the Penguins are well aware that there are two points on the line against the rival Bears, whom they trail by three points for third place in the East Division.
We want them to enjoy the atmosphere and experience because this doesn't come around all the time, Hynes said. But at the end of the day it is a business trip with two points on the line. When the puck drops we'll be ready to play.
• While mild temperatures and poor ice delayed the start of Saturday's alumni game, wind gusts and falling temperatures into the low 30's should eliminate any thawing problems by game time. The Penguins first chance to skate on the outdoor ice will beat 10 a.m. today for a pregame skate.
• Penguins alum Dennis Bonvie dropped the gloves during Saturday's game against long-time nemesis Louis Robitaille of the Bears and playfully wrestled in the corner. Instead of receiving a fighting major, however, the AHL's all-time penalty minutes leader was given a delay of game penalty. Bonvie didn't mind.
That stuff is over with. It's nice just to get back and laugh about it, he said.
• Saturday's game not only re-united former Penguins with their teammates, they also got to see former head coach Glenn Patrick, who was behind the bench. For Martin Sonnenberg, seeing his old coach was just as special as catching up with his teammates.
Glenn was there when I signed my first contract – we sat down in a hotel in Syracuse. My first four years were with Glenn and it was special to see him again, Sonnenberg said.
• Bonvie said he wouldn't mind participating in more alumni games and it is a possibility. Penguins CEO Jeff Barrett, who joined Patrick behind the bench for the game, said if the logistics can be worked out more alumni contests may be held in the future.
We are going to try to do it, Barrett said. It has to be the right situation with getting guys here, and we want to do it more in Wilkes-Barre. It's definitely something we're going to look at.
•Sonnenberg retired from professional hockey two years ago, but after Saturday's game he admitted to having a desire to play again. Sonnenberg, 34, scored three goals in the game. Every day I want to play. I would love to go back to Europe and play, but I don't think I can handle the American League anymore, he said. Also, there is another reason why Sonnenberg's dream of a comeback isn't likely. With four kids, Dad has to be home, he said.