Son of former Pens forward Samuelsson knows his niche
Defenseman Philip Samuelsson, son of Ulf, is the most well-known second-generation Penguin playing in Wilkes-Barre these days, but he's not the only one.
Brandon DeFazio, a rookie winger out of Clarkson University, is the son of Dean DeFazio, a forward who played 22 games for the Penguins in 1983-84, the season before the team drafted Mario Lemieux.
"He always says Mario took his job. That's his joke around the house," the younger DeFazio said.
Dean DeFazio was a scorer in juniors who was known more for the grittier side of his game the higher he climbed the hockey ladder. Brandon DeFazio is following the same path.
Clarkson's leading scorer last season, DeFazio has decent puck skills, but he knows his ticket to the NHL, should he get there, will be fast and physical fourth-line play.
"In pro, you find your niche, and you go to it and do it every game," DeFazio said.
Back in action
Defenseman Brian Strait, out since suffering a hyperextended elbow Oct. 18, returned to the Baby Pens lineup Monday in a 2-1 loss to the Albany Devils.
"I went through a game and felt OK and came out healthy still. Mindset-wise, it was good that way," Strait said. "My arm isn't made of glass. It's not just going to fall apart."
There's never a good time for an injury, but Strait's timing was especially bad. If he had been healthy as the Penguins went through a series of defensive injuries over the past two months, he probably would have run his career total of NHL games from four to close to 30.
"That's just how it goes," Strait said. "It's injuries. It's hockey. You have to roll with the punches."
Monday's game was the first loss for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton against a New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate in more than six years. The Baby Pens beat the Baby Devils 18 straight times after a 2-1 loss April 1, 2005.
Back in action II
Boris Valabik, the massive, 6-foot-7, 245-pound defenseman signed by the Penguins in July, made his Baby Pens debut Dec. 17 after recovering from offseason knee surgery. He is minus-3 in his first two games.
"He's got to get in game shape and get some timing down, but I think he's done a good job for not having played in a long time," coach John Hynes said. "He understands the concepts we want to play with. I think he's on the road to recovery."
The Penguins selected Joe Morrow 21 picks before they took Scott Harrington in last June's NHL draft. Morrow is faster, flashier and puts up more points.
Yet when the time came to name Canada's final roster for the World Junior Championships, coach Don Hay kept Harrington and cut Morrow, citing the former's consistent play in his own end.
The decision didn't come as a surprise to Harrington's junior coach with the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights.
"Too much heart, too much will, too much everything," Mark Hunter told the London Free Press. "I tell pro scouts he's just like Dan Girardi."
The tournament begins tomorrow in Calgary and Edmonton.
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.Additional Information:
One to watch
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) -- Center
5-foot-11, 185 pounds
How acquired: College free agent out of the University of Wisconsin
How he's doing: A second-year pro playing on an AHL contract, Street has become the Baby Pens' most consistent scoring-line center. He scored goals in four straight games heading into a week-long Christmas break, moving into second on the team with 22 points in 26 games, three points behind winger Colin McDonald. A heady player with a good shot, Street's game is reminiscent of Mark Letestu's in the way the puck seems to follow him around.
Why he might make it to the NHL: Coaches like smart, versatile players who can shoot the puck.
Why he might not: He's not big or exceptionally fast, and he's already 24 years old.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.