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Pittsburgh native Reese excited for Pens' opportunity

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- Dylan Reese was born in Pittsburgh approximately two months after the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Mario Lemieux and a little more than two months before Le Magnifique made his NHL debut.

Reese said it's no coincidence he became a professional hockey player.

"I grew up here watching the Pens, and I'm a product of the early Stanley Cups in '91 and '92," the newest Penguins defenseman said Thursday. "It's really a dream come true to be up here playing -- and hopefully playing in the new building here with the Penguins, so I'm excited."

Reese was recalled from Pittsburgh's American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wednesday night and joined the Penguins for their morning skate the following day in advance of their game against the Washington Capitals.

There is no guarantee he will be in the lineup Thursday -- coach Dan Bylsma traditionally has been loath to shake up a winning formula, and the Penguins have won four straight -- but Reese is hoping he'll have his chance to make an impression soon.

"I've worked hard this year and the team in Wilkes has been playing well," Reese said. "The opportunity presented itself here, so I'm happy to be up here and I'm going to do what I can.

"I've been lucky enough to play [at Consol Energy Center] a few times against the Penguins, but putting on that Penguins sweater is a little different in front of family and friends. Whether the opportunity's tonight or somewhere down the road, I'm excited for the chance if it comes."

Reese was recalled after the Penguins traded veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday for a 2014 fifth-round draft choice. Lovejoy was a healthy scratch over the previous four games in favor of rookie Robert Bortuzzo, who has performed admirably.

Top defenseman Kris Letang, however, left the morning skate early Thursday for undisclosed reasons. If Letang is not able to play, that could open up an opportunity for Reese, who has three goals and 14 assists in 74 NHL games over the past three years with the New York Islanders.

"Dylan Reese for us is a guy who has played quite a few NHL games and is a skating defenseman," Bylsma said. "He's definitely got speed but can play in a lot of different spots in the lineup. He's not a real big guy but is a gritty player with his speed and how he plays the game. It's possible he'll get some second power-play unit time with our group."

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