A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season like no other will begin Feb. 6.
The American Hockey League released its schedule for the delayed 2020-21 season Friday, including the Penguins’ 32-game slate. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first game in almost 11 months will be against the Binghamton Devils at Mohegan Sun Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 p.m.
In an effort to minimize travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Penguins will face only four teams this season: Hershey (10 times), Lehigh Valley (10), Syracuse (6) and Binghamton (6). Binghamton received a relocation waiver for the season and will play out of Newark, New Jersey.
The season runs through May 16 and looks drastically different. There are only six back-to-backs and no three-in-three weekends required to accommodate the usual 76-game schedule. A quarter of the games are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. or earlier.
No fans will be permitted at Mohegan Sun Arena to begin the season. The team’s games will be broadcast locally and streamed online by WILK Newsradio (103.1 FM).
Teams were given flexibility in terms of how many games they would commit to play based on geography and finances. The Bakersfield Condors, for example, will play a 40-game schedule against the other West Coast teams.
“As we prepare for a season unlike any other in our 85-year history, our priorities are first and foremost health and safety,” AHL President Scott Howson said in a statement. “Our main objective is to provide a safe environment for our players to continue their development toward a career in the National Hockey League.”
The league has yet to announce anything regarding a potential playoff format. The Calder Cup was not awarded last year after the league shut down March 12.
Shortly after the league released its season schedule, the Penguins unveiled their roster for the start of camp Monday.
The 23-player group includes 15 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders. It’s all but guaranteed to fluctuate by the start of the season.
The list features plenty of familiar names from last season, including forwards Anthony Angello, Jordy Bellerive and Chase Berger; defenseman Jon Lizotte; and goaltender Emil Larmi.
A notable addition is forward Tim Schaller, who joined the team on a tryout agreement. The 30-year-old has appeared in 276 career NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings.
The full list includes:
- Forwards: Justin Almeida, Anthony Angello, Jordy Bellerive, Chase Berger, Josh Currie, Jan Drozg, Frederik Gaudreau, Jonathan Gruden, Zach Nastasiuk, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Olson, Tim Schaller, Nick Scilkey, Luke Stevens, Radim Zohorna
- Defensemen: Cam Lee, Jesper Lindgren, Jon Lizotte, Josh Maniscalco, Will Reilly, Billy Sweezey
- Goaltenders: Emil Larmi, Shane Starrett
All camp practices are closed to the public amid the pandemic.
WBS Penguins 2021 schedule
- Sat., Feb. 6: BINGHAMTON, 5 p.m.
- Thurs., Feb. 11: HERSHEY, 5 p.m.
- Sat., Feb. 13: at Syracuse, 7 p.m.
- Sat., Feb. 20: at Hershey, 1 p.m.
- Wed., Feb. 24: HERSHEY, 5 p.m.
- Fri., Feb. 26: LEHIGH VALLEY, 5 p.m.
- Sat., Feb. 27: at Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m.
- Wed., March 3: SYRACUSE, 5 p.m.
- Sat., March 6: at Binghamton, 4 p.m.
- Mon., March 8: LEHIGH VALLEY, 7 p.m.
- Sat., March 13: at Syracuse, 7 p.m.
- Fri., March 19: LEHIGH VALLEY, 5 p.m.
- Sun., March 21: at Lehigh Valley, 3:05 p.m.
- Wed., March 24: SYRACUSE, 5 p.m.
- Fri., March 26: HERSHEY, 5 p.m.
- Sun., March 28: at Hershey, 1 p.m.
- Wed., March 31: at Binghamton, 7 p.m.
- Sat., April 3: at Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m.
- Sat., April 10: BINGHAMTON, 5 p.m.
- Sun., April 11: at Hershey, 3 p.m.
- Fri., April 16: LEHIGH VALLEY, 5 p.m.
- Sat., April 17: at Syracuse, 7 p.m.
- Sat., April 24: at Hershey, 1 p.m.
- Sun., April 25: HERSHEY, 5 p.m.
- Wed., April 28: LEHIGH VALLEY, 7 p.m.
- Fri., April 30: at Binghamton, 7 p.m.
- Sat., May 1: HERSHEY, 5 p.m.
- Sat., May 8: BINGHAMTON, 5 p.m.
- Sun, May 9: at Lehigh Valley, 3:05 p.m.
- Wed., May 12: SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.
- Sat., May 15: at Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m.
- Sun., May 16: at Hershey, 3 p.m.
Tyler Piccotti has covered the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for Times-Shamrock newspapers since 2017. In the Penguins Insider blog, he provides a look at NEPA’s only professional hockey team, sharing analysis and insights that go beyond the game sheet. A 2015 graduate of Syracuse University, he also has written for Bleacher Report, The Post-Standard and Lacrosse Magazine. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-821-2000; @CVPiccotti