The 2008 rookie tournament got underway in Kitchener, Ontario, on Saturday with the Penguins’ young talent putting up a decisive win against the Toronto Maple Leafs rookies in their own back yard. Center Mark Letestu, signed as an undrafted free agent in March 2007, racked up 4 points (1G, 3A) in the win. Right Winger Jean-Michel Daoust, a friend of Max Talbot’s who signed a tryout contract in Wilkes Barre/Scranton in January, picked up 3-points (1G, 2A). Huge defenseman Ben Lovejoy added a power play goal in the 5-2 win. Defenseman Jon D’Aversa and Left Winger Joey Haddad picked up the other two goals. Defensemen Alex Goligoski (2A), Alex Grant (1A) and Winger Aaron Boogard (1A) also got on the scoresheet.
Scoring opened at 3:31 of the first period with Daoust chipping a loose puck past Maple Leafs netminder James Reimer. Just 2-minutes later, Ben Lovejoy came down the right wing on the power play and re-directed a Letestu pass into the net. Jon D’Aversa and Joey Haddad added the 3rd and 4th goals mid-way through the second period. Mark Letestu picked up his 4th point on the night in the final minutes of the second to finish the scoring. 6’3, 220lb Aaron Boogaard threw in with a fight and handily beat the Leafs’ Joe Cooper. Rookie netminder John Curry stopped 20 shots to pick up the win.
The Penguins rookie team will face off against the Florida Panthers at 2:00pm today, and take on the Ottawa Senators on Monday at 2:00pm. Last year, the Penguins’ rookie team went 3-1 and won the Tournament Championship in Kitchener.
In other news, the Pittsburgh Penguins official training camp opens with physicals on Tuesday. In their first official meeting of the new season, the players will spend Tuesday going through a spate of physicals, testing and meetings at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) facility on the South Side. On Wednesday, 17 September, the players will assemble at Mellon Arena at 9AM for their first on-ice practice session. They will continue to meet daily at Mellon Arena from 9AM-1PM through Friday, 19 September, before heading into 5 pre-season games. All practice sessions will be open to the public and free of charge, with entry through Gate #1 opening at 8:45 AM.