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Penguins development camp to end with ‘competitive’ 3-on-3 tournament

There was a trophy that will be inscribed with the names of the winning team’s players in perpetuity. There was a morning skate similar to that before an NHL game. There were coaches who are former NHL players and referees and fans on hand who expected a true game atmosphere.

In short, if describing the games in Friday evening’s 3-on-3 prospect development tournament, don’t call them “scrimmages.”

“It’s going to be a fun night,” said the Penguins’ highest-selected player in the most recent draft, Calen Addison, “but at the same time, we are all competitors and we are at an NHL camp. So, absolutely, we all want to win.”

The overall experience, the learning opportunities and the chance (particularly for the unsigned players here on tryouts) to impress are the top priorities for the players at the Penguins development camp this week at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.

The annual tournament (in its third year) is something of a reward for the players, a fun cap to the week. But the Penguins for the first time have added a trophy — the Michel Briere Cup — to present to the winners. They will inscribe the winning team’s players’ names on it, and winners from the past two years had their names retroactively added.

“For sure there’s a drive for everybody to win this,” said goalie Alex D’Orio, who earned a contract in the fall after being on a tryout at the 2017 development camp. “Everybody wants to show what they are able to do in the 3-on-3, which is always more competitive and with more offense. So it’s going to be a nice night.”

Many of the players at this camp play for junior leagues that have followed the lead of the NHL and instituted 3-on-3 for overtime, so that aspect won’t be entirely new.

Organizationally, the Penguins have built around skill and speed, so the 3-on-3 is right up their alley. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the prospects they’ve drafted, signed or targeted would thrive in that sort of game, too.

“It’s for sure fun; a lot of open ice to work with,” said quick, talented and diminutive recent fifth-round forward Justin Almeida. “And it benefits my game, too, so I look forward to that.”

The four teams are named after Penguins development camp alumni who went on to win Stanley Cup rings : Brian Dumoulin, Matt Murray, Olli Maatta and Jake Guentzel. They’re coached by Penguins staffers Tom Kostopoulos, Scott Young, Kevin Stevens and Jarrod Skalde — all but the latter played for the Penguins.

“I was fortunate, I won (as a development tournament coach) last year,” Skalde said with a smile. “I am going back-to-back this year, so it’s important to me.

“But the message right now is just have some fun with it. We had a good couple days here, we got to see them on the ice, they got some good stuff in the gym — and now it’s kind of time to have some fun with some 3-on-3 hockey that will be competitive. It’s a naturally competitive thing.”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.


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--------- at the Penguins Prospect Camp at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Thursday, June 28, 2018.
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