Upper St. Clair native Vince Trocheck enjoyed a breakout season with the Florida Panthers last year, scoring 25 goals and surpassing 50 points as his upstart Panthers' squad won the Atlantic Division title.
One year later, Trocheck is on pace to better both marks, which earned the Panthers' leading scorer his first NHL All-Star Game berth.
"This has been a blast," Trocheck said following Saturday night's NHL Skills Competition. "Just the fact that I am here is an awesome honor. All the guys have been great. Just watching everyone in all these events was awesome."
Trocheck, who was selected by the Panthers in the third round (64th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, became the third Pittsburgh-born player chosen that year to play in an NHL All-Star Game, joining second-round selections Brandon Saad and John Gibson, who represented the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks, respectively, last year in Nashville.
Making his first All-Star appearance this year in Los Angeles was even more special for Trocheck because the one-time Penguins fan growing up was able to share the moment with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, and Trocheck's current teammate, former Pens star Jaromir Jagr, both of whom were chosen as part of the NHL's 100 Greatest Players on Friday night.
"I grew up watching both of those guys," Trocheck said. "So to be here and have them be here at the same time is pretty cool."
As one of the many young stars taking the game by storm the last couple seasons, adding an All-Star berth to his resume is another feather in the cap for Trocheck, who began the campaign skating for Team North America, the darlings of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey held in September.
"It's been a ride," Trocheck said. "It feels like a long season already. World Cup was about a month long. It's been a condensed season so far because of that, it's been a long ride, but I am having fun."
Trocheck probably scored points with the fans back in Pittsburgh when he won his heat in the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater competition on Saturday over the Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds, with Trocheck completing his lap around the ice in 13.320 seconds.