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MacIntyre fighting for NHL spot

| Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, 12:46 a.m.

The era of the enforcer is pretty much over in the NHL, right? That's what conventional hockey wisdom says.

Steve MacIntyre would like to know why, then, he could name seven NHL Eastern Conference heavyweights in 30 seconds off the top of his head.

“There are some big boys coming around,” MacIntyre said before rattling off the names of Kevin Westgarth in Carolina, George Parros in Florida, John Scott in Buffalo, Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton of the Islanders and Cam Janssen and Krys Barch in New Jersey.

That doesn't even include Toronto's Colton Orr, Boston's Shawn Thornton or Philadelphia's Jody Shelley.

With NHL teams playing a schedule weighted heavily with division and conference games this season, bad blood will probably surface.

And when it does, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound MacIntyre will be a phone call away in Wilkes-Barre.

“They signed me for two years,” MacIntyre said. “I don't think they signed me for nothing.”

The Internet rumor mill had MacIntyre being claimed off waivers by Toronto last week, but the reports turned out to be false. MacIntyre is happy about that.

“I love it here,” he said. “Best organization I've ever played for and I've played for a few over my 10 years.”

Because his reputation precedes him, MacIntyre has been able to find only two willing dance partners in 20 AHL games this season. Both fights — against Hershey's Matt Clackson and Portland's Joel Rechlicz — would have been considered 10-8 rounds in MacIntyre's favor by any boxing judge.

“I've built my reputation as an enforcer and as a fighter,” MacIntyre said. “Maybe I have that fear factor. Maybe guys are like, ‘We'll just let him play with the puck and let him do his own thing.' That's something I have to take as a plus and be a better player.”

Outdoor game

The Baby Pens will play the first outdoor game in the 14-year history of the team when they face the Hershey Bears today at Hersheypark Stadium. A crowd of about 17,000 is expected.

“It'll definitely bring back your childhood a little bit, but at the same time, it's a big game against a divisional rival,” defenseman Alex Grant said. “It's one we gotta have.”

Injury report

Rookie winger Tom Kuhnhackl, the German-born sniper picked by the Penguins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, is out for the year after having surgery to repair an upper-body injury.

“He was playing well as far as being able to play at this pace and being an effective player,” Baby Pens coach John Hynes said. “His attention to detail was really good. He was a guy who we saw very encouraging signs with. Unfortunately, he got hurt.”

Jonathan Bombulie has covered the Baby Pens for the Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre since the team's inception in 1999. He can be reached via email at jbombulie@aol.com.

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