The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will face a handful of new opponents in the 2017-18 season.
Seven to be exact.
The American Hockey League released team schedules on Tuesday and the Penguins will open the season on Oct. 7 - a week earlier than last year, at home against the Charlotte Checkers.
In addition to Charlotte, which last played at the Mohegan Sun Arena on May 7, 2011 when they eliminated the Penguins from the playoffs, the Milwaukee Admirals, Rockford IceHogs, Grand Rapids Griffins, Laval Rocket, Belleville Senators and Binghamton Devils represent the other new clubs on the 2017-18 schedule.
The Penguins will face Atlantic Division rivals the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Hershey Bears 12 times each, and they open the season with nine of the first 12 games at home. Four of the six road games against the Bears are on Sunday.
The Penguins will play four-consecutive home games on three separate occasions this season, once in October, December, and another split between March and April. Likewise, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has four different four-game road trips on the schedule, their longest of the season. Those stretches of road games are slated to take place in January, February, March and April.
On Jan. 12 and 13, the Penguins travel to Canada to face Belleville and Laval and the longest road stretch of the season is four games, which occurs three times.
March is the busiest month, with 16 games in 31 days, followed by December with 14 games. The Penguins wrap up the season on the road against Lehigh Valley followed by a trip to Hershey on April 15.
Pens add another blueliner
Pittsburgh signed defenseman Kevin Czuczman to a one-year, two-way contract on Tuesday. Czuczman, 26, spent last season with the Manitoba Moose, posting 32 points in 76 games. He played the majority of the ‘14-15 and ‘15-16 seasons with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In three-plus professional seasons, Czuczman 54 points (14G-40A) in 200 career AHL regular-season games, plus AHL playoff appearances, split between Manitoba and Bridgeport.
Recchi named assistant coach with Pittsburgh
Mark Recchi replaced Rick Tocchet, who took over as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes, as Pittsburgh’s assistant coach on Tuesday. Recchi, 49, previously served as Pittsburgh’s director of player development and was a familiar face in Wilkes-Barre working with the team’s young players during the season.
On June 26, Recchi was elected to the Hall of Fame as one of seven members of the Class of 2017 that will be enshrined on Nov. 13, 2017, a day off for the Penguins. The NHL’s 12th all-time leading scorer with 1,533 points in 1,652 games, Recchi is a five-time Stanley Cup champion. He won three times as a player, first with Pittsburgh in 1991, then with Carolina (2006) and Boston (2011). Recchi has added his name to the Cup two more times as an executive with the Penguins the last two seasons.