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Pens get disco fever at Night of Assists

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

As Bryan Trottier joined Dan Potash onstage to welcome everyone to the Penguins Disco for the third annual "Night of Assists" presented by Highmark, the AT&T SportsNet anchor asked the seven-time Stanley Cup champion what 1970s song he was looking forward to the most.

"That's easy," replied Trottier, who broke into the league back in 1975. "This song is generational. It was hot when it first came out. I danced to this song with my daughters, I dance to this song now with my granddaughters. DANCING QUEEN!"

Trottier wasn't the only one looking forward to that song, as Patric Hornqvist and Marcus Pettersson are both big fans of the Swedish band ABBA - so much so that they and their significant others dressed up as them for Halloween. 

"We rocked that," Hornqvist said with a grin.

Sidney Crosby had to agree. He and the rest of his Penguins teammates were all wearing 70s-inspired shirts that had plenty of shine and sequins, but Crosby joked that he wasn't someone who could pull the look off. When asked who could?

"'Petey' rocks this outfit so well," Crosby said. "He had a similar Halloween costume to this. For whatever reason, he wears it well."

"We all love the outfits we got," Pettersson said with a grin. "I think we all feel comfortable with it. It's a very fun event, seeing all the people that showed up and raised money for charity."

The Penguins players manned a variety of games along with a photo booth at the event, which was hosted on Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. All of the proceeds will benefit the Penguins Foundation's youth initiatives and special needs programs that benefit children throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.

"In just two seasons, we've raised over $900,000 from this very event," said Amanda Susko, Senior Director of Foundation Programs and Strategic Planning. "We're hoping that tonight that we can top the $1 million-dollar mark. We're so fortunate to have such great support from the Pittsburgh Penguins team, the coaching staff, the front office and just the entire organization to help us make this night truly spectacular."

In 2018, the first-ever Night of Assists created a vintage circus on the ice, while the 2019 charity gala transported guests to the 1940s for a Valentine's Day sweetheart swing. This year, the theme traveled back to the 1970s to get down on the dance floor and, as Potash said, be 'groovy and dynamite.'

"I love it. I absolutely love it," said Melissa Terrant, attending the event for the second straight year. "As soon as I heard what the theme was I went on Amazon and ordered the outfits. I couldn't wait to come to this."

The night began with a VIP reception in the Lexus Club, where the players mingled with guests while sipping cocktails at 'The Funk Factory Bar.' 

After a team photo in the locker room, they joined Potash, dressed as Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever; Trottier, wearing a shiny silver shirt that Potash joked had been hanging in his closet; and Penguins alumni from the 1970s onstage for introductions. After that, they dispersed onto the arena floor and the festivities began.

In front of the stage at center ice was a dance floor, with two 'Boogie Bars' open on each side of it. Poker games such as blackjack, craps and roulette with 70s-inspired names were set up around it for guests to try their hands with players serving as hosts. 

One of those players was newest Penguin Jason Zucker, who had been traded to Pittsburgh from the Minnesota Wild just 48 hours earlier. 

While it's been a whirlwind these last couple of days, tonight was the perfect way for him to get to know his new organization and the fans he'll be playing in front of from now on. The event was also right in his wheelhouse, as he's from Vegas and is a fan of roulette.

"It's been a crazy 48 hours, but it's been a lot of fun," he said. "It works out perfect. It's been fun to meet the fans, meet the guys. The city really embraces its team, so it's been fun to see."

Apart from the casino games, a hot commodity was the photo booth called "The Pens Club," where fans had the chance to take pictures with Jared McCann and Nick Bjugstad in front of 70s-inspired décor, including shiny disco balls.

Another unique feature for this year's event was "The Roller Disco," a rolled ice cream station. Guests were able to choose from either a Cool Beans Disco Roll the Solid Gold Disco roll. Teddy Blueger and Sam Lafferty spent the majority of the evening working hard to produce the sweet treats for patrons. 

"We had tryouts for this," Lafferty joked.

But of course, the main attraction was the prize wheel where Crosby and Hornqvist were stationed. They've been paired together all three years, starting with a prize wheel similar to this one in 2018 before bartending in 2019.

"I want to start by saying I love being partnered with Horny every year," Crosby said with a smile. "That's always enjoyable. He's just got good energy all the time. I don't know if we did a good enough job at bartending or maybe we did too good of a job (laughs), but we're back here this year."

In between spins of the prize wheel, Hornqvist and Crosby paused to chat with patrons who stopped by their station.

"We're really excited to be here," Deanna Blewett said. "I just hope the players enjoy it too because us as fans, we're over the moon. For them, we feel like we know them, so it's different for us than it is for them. I hope they enjoy it as much as we do."

They really do, as those interactions are something the captain looks forward to every year.

"I think just meeting the people, it's obviously for a good cause so I think everyone here is here for the right reasons," Crosby said. "Everyone just tries to enjoy themselves and have a good time."

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