The Pittsburgh Penguins won't be using the CONSOL Energy Center September 26th, so they'll yet the young guns of USA Hockey take the ice. The 2nd Annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game will be in Pittsburgh next month. The game will feature forty of the best American hockey players eligible for the NHL Draft in 2014. Tickets to the event will range from $9.50 to $19.00 (or $14.30 to $25.55 if you buy online).
On why the fledgling hockey game is coming to the Steel City, Penguins GM Ray Shero said, “In Pittsburgh, we have had the opportunity the past couple years to have events like the NCAA Frozen Four. We also hosted the Tier-1 Nationals at Robert Morris University last spring. In 2012, the Penguins hosted the NHL Draft. Finally, we are hosting a college hockey tournament at CONSOL Energy Center around Christmas. There is a lot going on in city of Pittsburgh."
He added, “The Penguins have done a fantastic job youth-hockey wise growing the game at the grassroots level in Pittsburgh with David Morehouse, our CEO, and Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, our owners. The opportunity to host this game with these 40 players is exciting to us.”
There will also be two very familiar faces to Penguins fans coaching these future NHLers.
In the red corner . . . Mark Johnson. The son of legendary coach 'Badger' Bob Johnson, Mark Johnson played in 669 NHL games (including his first two and a half seasons with the Pens) scoring 203 goals and tallying 305 assists. There's also a Olympic Gold Medal in his trophy case from the 1980 Lake Placid Games. In one of the greatest hockey games ever played, Johnson scored two goals against the powerhouse, mammoth, darn near unbeatable (except that day!) Soviet Union. His goal in the first period of that game chased Vladislav Tretiak from the net. Since 2002, he's coached the University of Wisconsin-Madison women's ice hockey team, winning four national championships (2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011).
In the blue corner . . . Joe Mullen. A man that kind of needs no introduction, but will get one anyway. Mully won three Stanley Cups (one with Calgary in 1989 and two with the Penguins in the '91 and '92) and appeared in a staggering 1,062 NHL games. He was the first American players to score 500 goals and finished his playing career (as a Penguin) with 502 goals and 561 assists. Obviously, he made the cut for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Currently, Mullen is a assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Shining the spotlight bak on the players, seventeen of the forty participants are ranked among the top one hundred for next year's draft. Notables include: forward Blake Clarke of the OHL's North Bay Battalion, defenseman Jack Glover of the U-18 U.S National Team, and center Nick Schmaltz of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. A complete list of the players can be found here.
The puck drops around 7pm. The Penguins regular season won't begin until October 3rd, so why not go and see the future?
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