April 8, 2010 is a night that will forever be remembered in Pittsburgh Penguins history as the team closed out the final regular-season game at Mellon Arena with a riveting pre-game ceremony honoring over 50 former players and staff members and followed that with a 7-3 victory over the New York Islanders.
|Upper St. Clair native and New York Islanders defenseman Dylan Reese protects the puck from the Penguins Sidney Crosby during the final regular-season contest at Mellon Arena on April 8. Credit - Getty Images |
While the day-long festivities and Sidney Crosby
’s 500th career NHL point ensured the night would be a special one for the home team, one member of the visiting squad also had a night he won’t soon forget.
Islanders rookie defenseman Dylan Reese, who grew up admiring Mario Lemieux and Tony Tanti as he learned the game on the tennis courts in his hometown of Upper St. Clair, Pa. and played his amateur hockey with the Pittsburgh Hornets and Pittsburgh Forge, played his first NHL game in his hometown in front of 25-30 family and friends – a total which included his mom and dad, who he credits for giving him the chance to even have such an opportunity.
“My parents have been nothing but exceptional,” Reese. “They have been the best parents that somebody could ask for. They gave me the opportunity to be successful.”
Reese, who was traded to the Islanders from the Columbus Blue Jackets organization on March 1 and made his NHL debut with New York on March 4 at Atlanta, had the date circled on his calendar not long after joining the Islanders, especially knowing it would be the final regular-season contest at the Igloo.
NHL Hockey Players from
Eleven players from Western Pennsylvania have played in the NHL, including Ryan Malone, pictured above.
“When I got called up to the Islanders I saw that game on the schedule but I didn’t know how long I would be (with the big club),” Reese said. “I was really hoping I was going to get the chance to be a part of it.”
Thanks to his steady play following the recall, which included a three-game point streak (1G-2A) where he posted a plus-8 rating heading into the Mellon Arena finale, there wasn’t much of a question whether Reese would lace up the skates that night.
Although he went scoreless and posted a minus-2 rating in 12:42 minutes of ice time, Reese enjoyed his first experience playing in his hometown, even if he was unable to catch the ceremony which included many of the players he grew up admiring.
“I wish we could have caught the ceremonies but we were in the locker room,” Reese said. “It was such a great atmosphere here that night. I had seen so many great games (at the Mellon) and gotten the chills on so many occasions that to be a part of that game was really indescribable for me.” >> RELATED ARTICLE: Dylan Reese Becomes 11th Western Pennsylvania Native to Play in NHL