After debut college season, Austin Lemieux back at Penguins camp
This is the fourth Pittsburgh Penguins development camp for Austin Lemieux at the facility that bears his surname. In that time he’s grown from a 20-year-old kid playing junior hockey to a 23-year-old man heading into his redshirt sophomore season for a successful Arizona State NCAA program.
That hasn’t made it any easier taking part in the annual training session for those who are about to embark on pro hockey careers.
“I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and I was telling him that this doesn’t get any easier,” Lemieux said after a session at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Thursday. “It’s completely different from college — you come here for a 45-minute practice. It’s very high-paced.
“It’s my fourth year, and I thought it would get easier — but it’s certainly still pretty tough. But I enjoy coming to these, so it’s nice.”
Penguins owner and franchise icon Mario’s son, Lemieux had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 31 games in his first college season as the young Arizona State program qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time. Although the Sun Devils fell short of the Frozen Four, they advanced to the regional.
— Ryne Redd (@RyneRedd) October 7, 2018
“When I’m graduated and moved on, I think that I am going to look back and it’s going to be something pretty special for me to say that I was a part of that and helped grow the program,” Lemieux said. “Right now, it hasn’t really hit me but there’s a long way to go to build a program but I think we made huge steps last year and it’s just going to keep going on from there.”
Lemieux enrolled at Arizona State after a season in which he had 20 goals and 74 points in 45 United States Premier Hockey League games. He redshirted as a freshman but appeared in 31 of the Sun Devils’ 35 games this past season. Arizona State finished the season among the top 10 teams in the country in the PairWise Rankings.
Lemieux noted that the NCAA Division I level was “a lot faster, and guys are a lot stronger.”
“You obviously have your ups and downs,” Lemieux said, “but, certainly, to get the first year out of the way and know that you did whatever you needed to do to help the team win, did what your coach asks you. I certainly would like to produce a little more, and we will see if that comes down the line here next year.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .