It’s not every day that a hockey player gets a chance to play in the first-ever hockey game in a brand new arena. Even more rare is the opportunity to play in that game on a line with one of the greatest players in the world.
But that’s what Brett Sterling has a chance to do Wednesday night in the first-ever game in CONSOL Energy Center. Head coach Dan Bylsma announced that Sterling will play on a line with Sidney Crosby
and Pascal Dupuis
in the Penguins’ preseason opener against Detroit.
“Brett Sterling, in the first few days, is showing that he can possibly put those pucks in the net in this league like he did this past year in the American Hockey League,” Bylsma said. “So we’re giving him an opportunity.”
Sterling has proven to be a scoring threat in the AHL. In 2006-07, he notched 55 goals for the Chicago Wolves, the Atlanta Thrasher’s tom minor-league affiliate. The following season he scored 38 goals.
He hasn’t lost that touch, scoring two goals in Monday’s scrimmage as Group C defeated Group A 2-1. So Sterling is looking forward to the opportunity Bylsma is providing.
“If you look at the top players in the league, the Pens have about four or five of them,” Sterling said. “So, to get to play on a line with a guy like (Crosby) is great.”
Sterling prides himself on being a player who can get into the crease and the dirty areas of the ice and punch in goals. And he believes that Crosby’s style of play will help him do that.
“Obviously Sid can score, but he’s god unbelievable vision and he’s an unbelievable passer” Sterling said. “If he can get me the puck, hopefully I can bury it. That’s been my game.”
Crosby is looking forward to giving Sterling an opportunity to make the Penguins’ roster.
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“I think he is going to do well,” Crosby said. “He’s had a good camp so far. He shoots the puck well and he’s smart.”
At 5-foot-7, Sterling is one of the shorter guys on the team, but he doesn’t see that as a disadvantage, and neither does Bylsma.
His second goal of the scrimmage, he was standing right in the blue paint. Guys were all around him and he puts in that goal. No one cared how big he was when he was standing in the paint and scoring that goal. Sterling is a guy that scores goals - Dan Bylsma
“His second goal of the scrimmage, he was standing right in the blue paint,” Bylsma said. “Guys were all around him and he puts in that goal. No one cared how big he was when he was standing in the paint and scoring that goal.
“Sterling is a guy that scores goals.”
The fact that Wednesday’s game is the first ever-hockey game at CONSOL Energy Center only adds to Sterling’s excitement.
“It makes it more fun,” Sterling said. “I’ve heard nothing but unbelievable comments about the fans and just the whole city in general and the way they treat these guys.”
While he’s looking forward to the atmosphere of the first game, his main focus is making the most of the opportunity he is getting.
“I’m just really happy and having a great time,” he said. “Hopefully, tonight will be a great start.”