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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins fans got their first glimpse of Evgeni Malkin and other Penguins rookies Saturday at Mellon Arena.

Approximately 1,541 fans attended the Penguins’ rookie camp practice Saturday morning. Sunday’s session from 10-11:30 a.m. at Mellon Arena is open to the public as well. It is the last chance for the public to see rookie camp, as the sessions Monday and Tuesday are closed.

The enthusiastic crowd cheered loudly after Malkin, the Penguins’ second-overall pick in 2004, dazzled with several acrobatic moves in a one-on-one drill. Malkin was surprised to see so many Penguins fans show up for practice.

“I didn’t expect a lot of people. I was real impressed,” said Malkin through translator Besa Tsintsadze. “I never had a crowd at a practice before with all the clapping. I thought it was a little bit different, but afterwards, I felt comfortable and got used to it.”

Malkin has not had the chance to see much of Pittsburgh in his short time in the Steel City. However, he appreciates how supportive the area’s sports fans are.

“I have seen how people love football and hockey,” he said. “It’s a really motivated city. I am really excited.”

The fans were impressed with Malkin, Jordan Staal and the other Penguins prospects.

“The major reason I came was to see Malkin. I wanted to just check him out on the ice,” said Todd Kern of Penn Hills. “I saw him on the Russian Web sites, but I wanted to see him in person. I wanted to see Staal too, and the young talent and see what we have coming up.”

Rebecca Banner made the long drive from Canton, Ohio, to see Malkin and the other youngsters.

“I came to see Malkin and Staal and [Noah] Welch. They are three of the best rookies,” she said. “Malkin has been noted as the most-dangerous man on the ice, so I had to drive two hours to come see it for myself.”

Mark DiCocco, of Penn Hills, couldn’t wait to come see the youngsters at rookie camp.

“I wanted to see the new kids,” he said. “It’s always good to come see the players and the new kids.”

Justin Anderson, of Penn Hills, was just happy to see activity on Mellon Arena ice.

“I love the game,” he said. “The Penguins need our support. Hopefully this is not the last rookie camp we get to watch.”


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