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Penguins Report: Lovejoy Has Successful Debut

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Ben Lovejoy had a shaky start to his NHL career.

“I had a tough first shift,” the rookie defenseman said. “(Dany) Sabourin made a nice save for me. After that I settled down a bit.”

Lovejoy played his first professional game in Monday night’s 4-3 loss to Buffalo at Mellon Arena.

Lovejoy finished with a plus-1 rating and logged over 10 minutes of ice time but wasn’t able to get over the butterflies in his stomach.

“I don’t know if they went away but I definitely got more and more comfortable as the night went on,” Lovejoy said.

It’s not easy for a defenseman to step in. I was pleased. - Michel Therrien
“He did fine,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “It’s not easy for a defenseman to step in. I thought for his first game he wasn’t in trouble and kept his game simple. I was pleased.”

The Dartmouth grad was recalled from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with Hal Gill sidelined for two-to-four weeks with a shoulder injury. Lovejoy skated alongside former Wilkes-Barre teammate and roommate Alex Goligoski.

“We’ve played with each other before,” Goligoski said. “We know each other. I’m probably a little more comfortable than playing with someone that I haven’t played with before.

“I like playing with him. He talks out there. He’s always in good position. It’s definitely a plus.”

With Gill’s injury, Lovejoy may have an extended stay in Pittsburgh. At least he doesn’t have to worry about those first-game jitters anymore.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Lovejoy said. “It was a once in a lifetime thing. I was very excited to be out there. I’m glad to get the first one out of the way.”

> The Penguins practiced at Mellon Arena in front of 8,100 kids (turnstile count) from area schools on Tuesday. Children from 63 schools arrived on 250 buses to cheer on the Penguins.


“It was a little intense,” Ryan Whitney said. “It was louder than what we’re used to for practice. It was fun. You could tell that the kids enjoyed it and it’s something that I wish I could have done when I was little.”

The event was in coordination with the Penguins commitment to education and as a way to reach out to kids.

“It was fun,” said Sidney Crosby, who drew a loud cheer when he scored on a shootout attempt. “It doesn’t happen too often so it was a good time. They were loud. If there’s ever a time where you don’t have much energy the day after a game, they bring it. It was nice. That’s great for all those kids.”

> Defenseman Philippe Boucher returned to practice but is still listed as week-to-week. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury practiced for the second straight day, though coach Therrien said that he will not play this week. Forward Mike Zigomanis and Janne Pesonen didn’t practice. Zigomanis is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury while Pesonen was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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