The beautiful weather on this Saturday afternoon – sunny and 85 degrees with a breeze – couldn’t deter a huge crowd of Penguins fans from heading indoors to watch some hockey in July.
“It couldn’t be any more beautiful out there than it is in here,” said Chooch Moody of Mars, decked out in a black Penguins jersey and cap. “No doubt about it.”
About 5,000 fans came to CONSOL Energy Center for the free scrimmage, which concluded the 2011 prospect development camp that took place this week that saw 28 players learn what it takes to become a Pittsburgh Penguin.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Mike Stosko of South Park, who brought his wife and two children. “It’s nice watching the young guys flying up and down the ice.”
Most fans agreed that they wanted to get a look at defenseman Joseph Morrow
, the Penguins’ first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and forward Eric Tangradi
, who played 14 games with Pittsburgh last season.
“You read about (these players) on the Internet and now you get to see them,” Stosko said. “Hopefully we get to see them throughout the season.”
Ed and Lois Eiseman, transplanted Penguins fans who currently reside in Ohio, drove in from Cleveland to catch the action.
The Eisemans were pleased that the Penguins made it possible for them and the other fans in attendance to watch the organization’s prospects in action.
“As soon as we heard about it, we were like, OK, it’s a Saturday afternoon, we’re here in the ‘Burgh,” Ed said. “It’s free and open to the public. Some people don’t even get in here.”
While it may be surprising to see such a turnout on a gorgeous summer day in the middle of July, no one there was surprised.
“Penguins fans are there all the time,” said Lois. “The fan support is just phenomenal. “
Moody agreed, saying “There’s a good core of hockey fans here. I’m not surprised at all.”
And since the fans can’t wait for the upcoming 2011-12 Penguins season to begin, this helped some of them get their hockey fix during the long summer months.
“I get jonesin’ about this time, so I need some hockey,” Moody said.Photos of the fans at the 2011 Penguins prospect development camp open scrimmage (click here for full photo gallery):