The Pittsburgh Penguins youth hockey camps are all about educating youngsters and having fun.
Plenty of both took place Wednesday at the Ice Castle in Castle Shannon as 12 prospects from the Penguins’ rookie conditioning camp made appearances as guest instructors at the Penguins’ youth scrimmage camp.
Angelo Esposito, Luca Caputi, Carl Sneep, Paul Bissonnette, Joe Jensen, Ryan Stone, Tyler Kennedy, David Brown, Jonathan Filewich, Ben Lovejoy, Kyle Rank and Tim Wallace all hit the ice to work with camp instructors Mike Yeo, Phil Bourque, Derek Schooley, Besa Tsintsadze and others.
In between instructional sessions, the prospects signed autographs and posed for pictures.
“It shows you, really, how far Pittsburgh hockey has come that you have this kind of a turnout and then you also have the prospects coming out – NHL guys coming to a hockey school. It’s a big deal and the kids realize that,” said Bourque, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins and currently their radio color analyst. “Growing up in Boston, I was lucky enough to have Division II college kids come out and I thought that was a huge deal. But, to think of a guy like Angelo Esposito or these high draft picks and free agents the Penguins signed, it kind of shows you that the hockey is more serious in the Pittsburgh area.
“I have a blast doing this. It is fun. Each time I do this, I don’t realize it until I get on the ice how much fun it is to be out there with the young kids. It kind of makes me remember when I was their age and how much fun it was going to hockey school and how much you want to learn and how much you just love playing the game of hockey.”
Esposito, the Penguins’ 2007 first-round draft choice, had a great time working with the youth players.
“Yeah it’s always a lot of fun. I remember when I was a kid, when older guys or NHL guys would come on the ice with us, that is was always a lot of fun,” he said. “I think they were happy. Even for us, it’s a lot of fun to work with these little guys. Even as an older guy, it’s fun to get on the ice and skate with them. It’s always nice to give back.”
Luca Caputi, Pittsburgh’s 2007 fourth-round draft choice, echoed Esposito’s statement.
“This is great. Especially, when I was a kid, whenever I had a chance to skate with people who had an NHL jersey on, it’d be something memorable for me. Like Angelo said, just to give back is pretty exuberant,” he said. “This whole week is fun. It’s something I will never forget for the rest of my life because it only comes once. I am just enjoying it while it’s here. It’s a great bunch of guys we have out here.”
The youth hockey camp concludes Friday. The Pittsburgh Penguins Summer Hockey School takes place Aug. 20-24. It is sold out, but people may register to be put on a waiting list. For more information, click here.