Thousands of youth hockey players from around the area look up to the Penguins, and on Monday, one lucky team got the chance to see the team up close and in person.
The Penguins invited the Arctic Foxes Squirt-II team to the Iceoplex at Southpointe to watch the team practice, and then the 9-, 10-year-old players got to take the ice for their own practice and learn from some National Hockey League players.
The kids were very vocal during practice, and Sidney Crosby
said it’s always exciting to give young fans such opportunities.
“When we were growing up and following teams and looking up to players, I didn’t always have that opportunity to be in a place where there was an NHL team,” Crosby said. “I remember my chance getting to see professionals up close, so kids are normally excited and I’m sure they are happy to get a close look at everyone.”
Mark Shuttleworth, Penguins director of amateur hockey, said the organization used to do this several years ago and he is working to bring it back.
“It’s great to give kids a chance to come watch practice up close and get a free hour of ice time,” he said.Deryk Engelland
and Mark Letestu joined the Arctic Foxes on the ice for practice and worked with the future stars on various drills.
“We all have dreams and whether those kids want to play professional hockey or whatever they want to do, I’m sure they are pretty excited to see some guys they follow or watch on TV up close,” Crosby said. “That’s a nice experience for them.”
The honor of being someone that children look up to is not lost on Crosby.
“We all had people we looked up to, so hopefully a lot of guys in here can be those people for young kids,” he said.