My two worlds are colliding, and I’m very, very excited.
After watching his teammate Ludvig Larsson sign an amateur tryout deal with the New Jersey Devils’ affiliate Binghamton just the other day, Penn State captain Chase Berger signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The WBS organization signed him to an ATO agreement for the remaining games in 2018-19, and both sides also put pen to paper for an AHL contract that will begin during the 2019-20 season.
Berger has been a statement player for the Nittany Lions for the past four years and has been one of the major components driving the success of the program, especially from a leadership standpoint. Because of that, he was nominated for the 2018-19 Senior CLASS Award, depicting the student-athletes who best demonstrate themselves in their community, in the classroom, in their character, and in competition. He also wore a letter in both his junior (A) and senior (C) seasons.
The amount of success Penn State has managed to garner in such a short amount of time is a testament to its coaching, recruiting, and development, and Berger was definitely a key cog in that process. Before Arizona State beat its record this season, Penn State was applauded for being the fastest school since gaining status as an NCAA program to qualify for postseason play. The Sun Devils qualified in their third year, Penn State qualified in its fourth.
Berger tallied a collegiate career-best 14 goals this 2018-19 season to go along with 29 total points in 39 games played, bringing his career tallies to 118 points (51 goals, 67 assists) with Penn State. In his four years, he stands alone as the only Nittany Lion to never miss a single tilt, with an Iron Man-like streak of 154-straight games played. One of the more incredible stats of note is how little Berger is penalized — he has just 17 minor penalties taken over his four years. That number is remarkable.
This isn’t the first time Berger has tested the waters in Pittsburgh, as the 24-year-old joined the Penguins on the ice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex for their 2017 summer development camp, alongside former teammate (and current Belleville Senator) Andrew Sturtz and teammate Nikita Pavlychev, who was drafted by the Penguins in 2015 and will complete his senior season in Pegula Ice Arena before making the jump to the pros.
The connection from Berger to Pittsburgh makes a lot of sense considering that invitation by the Penguins’ scouts, as they’ve probably had their eyes on him ever since the camp ended. Playing just a few hours away definitely helped in that regard.
Berger will immediately join the Baby Pens in their last-ditch quest to earn a playoff berth and keep WBS’s postseason streak alive.
(Kaitlyn also writes for the Penguins’ SB Nation site Pensburgh)