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NHL Stadium Series

Penguins, Steelers take in Heinz Field transformation

Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust impressed with site of Stadium Series

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers jointly promoted the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Heinz Field on Wednesday.

Penguins forwards Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust joined Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats rinkside in the Steelers stadium. Moats stood while holding a football between the two Penguins, who each posed with hockey sticks.

The Penguins will play the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV) with Moats in attendance. He has attended past Penguins games at PPG Paints Arena, including a few during the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, but was taken aback by the Heinz Field transformation.

"It's a shock, especially when you look at just how much space there is from the hockey arena to the actual sidelines," Moats said. "I remember I was talking to Conor and I was saying that when I come to your arena, the rink looks massive. That's because all the seats are down there. When you come out here, it's like it's not that big at all."

Sheary had a similar experience Wednesday but thinks his teammates will adapt quickly once the game starts Saturday.

"I think when you first step out here, it's kind of an awe experience and you kind of forget you're playing in a game," Sheary said. "I think you get that out of the way early, but I think it'll be a lot of fun for the guys.

"It's pretty cool. I got to experience a football game from the crowd and the stadium looks a lot bigger from down here, but just to see the ice rink and all the stuff going around it, with all the Penguins and Flyers stuff going on, it's cool to see."

The scene became more entertaining when Moats, who wore a Penguins hat, was handed a stick. Sheary and Rust taught him how to handle it properly as a right-handed shot before Rust struck a Heisman pose with each of the three laughing.

Sheary and Rust each is recovering from an upper-body injury that likely will keep him out Saturday. Sheary has missed nine games and isn't expected to return until early March. Rust could be out until late March or early April.

Despite their inability to play Saturday, Rust and Sheary each said they're excited for their teammates.

"Anytime our team can just go through this experience [it's fun]," Rust said, "and just being a part of the team and being able to see it all and take it all in, if I play or not, it's always fun."

While Rust and Sheary spoke, Moats stood in the background and examined the two sticks the forwards held earlier. He picked one up to see if he could perfect his form, which he later called his "jab step," but accidently dropped it when he went to set it against a guard rail.

It was clear Moats, who held the stick while speaking with the media, was made to play football instead of hockey, which he openly admitted.

"The fact that (hockey players are) going crazy fast and showing their agility on ice, for me, I've maybe ice skated once in my whole life, and I know how difficult that was," Moats said. "I feel like they can easily come out on the field and at least run. … Also, the fact that they're flying around on ice doing it, taking the hits all with the hand-eye coordination as well, I feel like it definitely shows their skill set."

Rust made the respect between the two sports mutual.

"Football is a very big topic of discussion in our locker room during the season and I know a lot of our guys are really big fans," Rust said. "It definitely is amazing how big the sport of football is and it's fun that we're able to kind of get that experience even just a little bit for a day."

After complimenting hockey as a whole, Moats said he would like to see Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell play on a line with Penguins forward Sidney Crosby, wide receiver Antonio Brown dance after scoring a goal, and linebacker James Harrison play goalie without a mask while growling at the opposition.

"You understand the Pens and the significance that they play [in Pittsburgh]," Moats said. "Think about them just winning the Stanley Cup last year, you can see that the brand of hockey that they put out there is not a mediocre product. It's top level.

"So, I feel like they definitely warrant what they deserve and what they receive as far as fan support and other sports supporting them as well."

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