We welcomed a new player to the Penguin flock this month.
Actually, a flock of penguins is called a "waddle" (something I discovered through the magic of Google) but flock has a much more "family" feel to it. So, joining the Penguin flock....family...waddle...whatever......say hello to 8-year old Anthony D'Ambrosio.
Anthony joined our Novice house league team a few weeks ago, coming over in a trade for Chris Mosios, who you met in last week's blog. Chris was one of our top snipers, while Anthony is playing his first year of minor hockey. With a few teams struggling, the league made a move to improve the parity between teams and while we hated to lose Chris, we're also pumped about Anthony becoming a Penguin.
In Canada, a lot of hockey-crazed parents send their kids on the ice for their first games and practices when they're 4 years old. Like Anthony, however, our 8-year old, Max, was a little late to the party. More interested in reading "Harry Potter" than "Hockey Now", Max didn't take the minor hockey leap until last year. Are Max and Anthony behind some of our top players in terms of skill development? Sure. But Max goes to the front of the net every so often and has been able to pick up the odd point. Anthony, meanwhile, chalked up his first point, a hard-earned assist, in our latest victory which improved our record to 9-4; good enough for second place in the league standings.
Like Max, Anthony has a big body and you can tell he has a lot of athletic ability. Anthony actually started out the season as a goalie but after getting pummeled a few times, he decided to hang up the pads and focus on becoming a power forward. It's the right move, as he's a real hustler who loves battling for the puck.
Obviously, it's not easy being traded at 8-years old and it took awhile for Anthony to get comfortable with the news that he was starting all over again on a brand new team. Coaches, however, play a huge role in providing a welcoming environment and I'm lucky to have a great group of Penguin assistants. Greg Schell is the youth development coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs and played a major part in the Leafs activities during the NHL Winter Classic in Michigan. Following Anthony's Penguins debut, Coach Greg presented Anthony with an official Maple Leaf cookie; one of the many marketing items on sale at the outdoor extravaganza.
"Are you gonna eat it or save it for a souvenir?", I asked Anthony, who got a big grin on his face as he began chowing down on the blue and white icing covering the cookie.
At practice the next day one of our other assistant coaches, Rob Scarcello, came riding to Anthony's rescue. Rob noticed Anthony's skates were laced up in a peculiar manner and, after Rob helped him re-lace, Anthony was flying around the ice in much-more confident fashion.
Like his skates, meanwhile, Anthony is beginning to look comfortable in his new Penguins uniform. We provide our Penguin parents with a game day program every week; a good way to help them identify who's who and another method in developing a feeling of "team" for everyone involved with the squad. Part of our program identifies each of the kid's favorite NHL player. Anthony, however, wasn't sure about his hockey hero and needed some time to think about it.
The other day, he was finally ready to pick a player.
"Sidney Crosby," he said.
There you go.
The perfect Penguin for a kid who's fitting in perfectly with the mighty East York Penguins.
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