Team Francis coach Kevin Stevens didn’t panic Sunday when his troops fell behind 2-0 to Team Herbie. Instead, he just stayed relaxed and let his guys play their game.
It worked perfectly as Team Francis scored the next five goals to post a 5-2 win in the championship game of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ annual training camp tournament at Mellon Arena.
Stevens, whom the Penguins hired as a scout on Sept. 2, guided his troops to an unblemished 4-0 record.
“I wasn’t surprised we went undefeated. I always expect to win,” he said. “The guys played great. They are a good bunch of guys. They played hard and they all played well and worked together well.”
However, Stevens doesn’t attribute his team’s perfect run to any profound coaching strategies on his part.
“Not many, believe me,” he said with a laugh. “I just open the door and shut it and just get out of the way when they are rolling like that.”
Maxime Talbot scored on a penalty shot and Tyler Kennedy found the back of the net to give Team Herbie (2-2) a 2-0 edge.
However, Matt Murley scored on a penalty shot for Team Francis to trim the deficit to 2-1 at intermission.
In the second period, Matt Hussey tied the game at 2-all when he slid a backhander past Marc-Andre Fleury. Kenny Corupe slammed in a rebound to give Team Francis a 3-2 edge.
Tomas Surovy scored the final two goals. He roofed a shot past Fleury that clanged off the crossbar and trickled into the net. He later tapped in a rebound to cap the scoring.
Jocelyn Thibault stopped 13 of 15 shots in the first half for Team Francis, while Dany Sabourin saved all 13 shots he faced in the second period. Fleury stopped 40 of 45 shots for Team Herbie.
Team Badger 8, Team E.J. 5
Erik Christensen scored a tourney-best five goals to lead Team Badger to the win in the third-place contest.
“My first three camps I never had a goal,” said Christensen, a third-round pick in 2002. “Sometimes, you get nights where pucks sort of follow you around and everything you shoot goes in the net. I am not complaining. I am proud I had a decent start to the camp and hopefully I am making an impression.”
Certainly, Christensen is making an impression as he finished with a tournament-best seven goals overall. In addition, his seven points tied him with Stephen Dixon (Team Francis) for the tourney lead. Sidney Crosby (Team Herbie), Rico Fata (Team E.J.) and Johannes Salmonsson (Team E.J.) all wound up tied for second with six points.
Kurtis McLean gave Team E.J. (2-2) a 1-0 edge when he wristed the puck over Sebastien Caron’s glove. Sean Collins quickly retaliated for Team Badger (0-4). He converted a penalty shot to knot the score at 1-all.
Christensen collected the next two goals. He flipped the puck over Andy Chiodo’s right shoulder for the first and slammed in Konstantin Koltsov’s pass at the top of the crease for a 3-1 edge.
Ben Eaves scored on a penalty shot and Christensen completed the hat trick when he slipped the puck between Chiodo’s leg pads for a 5-2 lead.
Fata trimmed the deficit to 5-3 on a penalty shot before intermission. Fata scored again at the start of the second period. Salmonsson converted a penalty shot for Team Badger to tie the game at 5-5.
Alexandre Rouleau roofed a penalty shot past Chiodo for a 6-5 Team Badger lead.
Christensen closed the scoring with two more tallies. On a 2-on-1 break, he one-timed a pass from Collins into the net and later wristed the puck past Chiodo for the 8-5 triumph.
Caron stopped 26 of 31 shots in the win. Chiodo saved 24 of 32 shots.
Penguins practice resumes at 8 a.m. Monday at Mellon Arena. It will be closed to the public.