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Strait Continues To Progress

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

06/30 Brian Strait Interview

06/30 Brian Strait Podcast

Growing up in Waltham, Mass., Brian Strait was a fixture at Boston University hockey games.

He watched as a Terriers defenseman named Ryan Whitney developed into a Penguins first-round draft choice in 2002.

Also a part of the Penguins organization, Strait hopes to skate alongside Whitney in Pittsburgh one day.

Strait, Pittsburgh’s 2006 third-round draft choice (65th overall), completed his sophomore season at Boston University. Though the Terriers shrugged off a slow start to win nine of 10 games heading into the Hockey East tournament before bowing out in the semifinals, Strait enjoyed another solid campaign.

In addition, he represented Team USA at the World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic. And, even though the Americans dropped their last two contests to finish fourth, Strait gained more experience from participating in the event.

Penguins prospect Brian Strait captained Team USA at the 2008 World Junior Championship.

“It was a great experience. I wanted to help BU win some more games and get a medal at the World Juniors,” he said. “Individually, it was great. I was able to step into a bigger role at BU and I was able to play as a top-four defenseman at the World Junior Championship and it’s something I will take with me and learn from it and, hopefully, do better in the future.”

A two-way defenseman, Strait finished with 10 assists in 37 games for Boston University. He had three goals and three assists in 36 games last season. But, this year, he was able to slice his penalty minutes from 47 to 20.

“It’s just part of the process. I feel like I am progressing. It’s showing a little bit,” he said. “I am just trying to do the right things. If you keep growing and progressing, you’ll get to where you want to be.”

Strait was one of the top defensemen for Team USA as well as the team’s captain. He’s no stranger to international competition as he captained the Americans to gold at the 2006 World Under-18 Championship.

“It was great. I played for the U-18 team before and I always want to put that U.S. jersey on, so it was a great experience,” he said. “Being named captain again was unbelievable. It always means a lot more when the team votes for you than when the coaches pick you because you know you have the respect of your teammates and they respect what you say in the locker room and on the bench and how you go about your day. They try to model that, which is great, and I appreciate that from them.

“Making the team was something I was really striving for at the beginning of the year and I got there. But, we didn’t medal, which was a disappointment, but it was another experience I will take with me.”

Strait was in Pittsburgh last week to take part in the Penguins conditioning camp. Once again, he valued the experience.

“It’s great. I was excited to come back. I had a real good experience last year,” he said. “It was a learning experience and it was nice to see the city and get used to the organization. I felt a little more comfortable this year.”

And, for the second-straight year, he got a chance to get on the ice with many of the other Penguins prospects.

“I don’t really look at the other guys as much just trying to progress myself. I look at what I need to do to get better individually,” he said. “I know what I need to do to get better and I know what I need to do to play at the next level. I am close, but I still have some work to do.”

Strait’s summer work is in full swing now.

“I started my summer workout in mid-May. It’s really picking up right now,” he said. “You lose a lot of strength through the season, so I am getting back to where I was at the beginning of last season, so that is good.”

Strait found time to follow the Penguins and their top farm squad, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as both teams advanced deep into the playoffs this year.  

“It was real exciting. My parents and I have been following the Penguins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and it was exciting to see they made it to the Stanley Cup Final and Calder Cup Final,” he said. “It’s unfortunate they lost both of them, but it really speaks volumes for the organization and what they can do in the future.”


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