Welcome back Pens fans! My name is Dustin, one of the newest members of the Pittsburgh Penguins Ice Crew. With the 2015-2016 NHL season well underway, I’d like to tell you about my experience of becoming a member of the Ice Crew and what it has meant to me, as well as let you in on what we’ve been up to in order to prepare for the season.
The journey to become a member of the Ice Crew began in July with the first day of auditions at CONSOL Energy Center. For weeks I eagerly awaited the first day of auditions and when it finally arrived I was a bit nervous but more so excited. Every summer for the past sixteen years I’ve participated in some type of tryout to make a hockey team, so an on-ice audition felt natural. On day one the rink was full of quick and agile skaters all prepared to give it their all in the hopes of impressing the judges and landing a spot on the team. After a handful of various drills and sprints, the judges took some time to deliberate before announcing the names of those who were to come back for a second audition. I was thrilled to learn that I had made it to the second day of auditions and began preparing for the next round of auditions.
Similar to how I felt on the first audition, I again felt nervous for the face to face interview with the judges. Standing in front of and presenting to a group of people is always a nerve racking situation, especially for me! But as I waited for my interview, I found that I was surrounded by a great group of people and I began feeling relaxed and at ease. Thankfully I was able to contain my nerves and sweaty palms enough to advance to the final round of auditions!
On the third and final day of auditions, the members of the 2015-2016 Ice Crew were announced and I was fortunate to be one of them! I was overwhelmed with happiness and couldn’t believe that I had made it! Once the team was picked and the celebrations had ended, it was time get down to business and hit the ice for practice. Luckily for us, the brand new, state of the art UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex had just opened its doors and was ready to host our practices. Week by week we worked on improving our speed and skills and continuously practiced the shoveling routine we use during the TV timeouts at Penguins games. The veterans passed on plenty of pointers and advice to the rookies as everyone became accustomed to working together. It didn’t take long for Laura, the Ice Crew Coordinator, to transform us into a well-oiled, snow shoveling machine!
Making the Ice Crew has been an absolute dream come true. Pulling on a Penguins sweater and skating on the same ice as some of the best hockey players in the entire world creates a feeling that simply cannot be described with words. Furthermore, becoming a part of the Ice Crew has also been particularly special for me and couldn’t have happened at a better time. As I graduated from college in May, it marked the end of my competitive hockey playing career. So being on the Ice Crew enables me to continue being around the game that has been such a major part of my life for so long. Thanks to everyone on the Ice Crew, I could not be more excited for another new hockey season with my new team.
Let’s Go Pens!