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Penguins visit Rostraver rink as part of celebration of hockey

Jonathan Bombulie
| Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, 3:03 p.m.

Most weekends, 9-year-old Lori Thompson wants to be the one stopping pucks at the Ice Garden in Rostraver.

Even though she can duck her head under the net's 4-foot crossbar when she's standing straight up, she loves playing goaltender for her youth hockey organization, the Mon Valley Thunder.

"I really like to keep them from getting a goal," she said. "I make a lot of saves. I try really hard."

On Sunday morning, Lori was OK with someone else taking a turn playing between the pipes at the 52-year-old rink, though. That's because the Penguins were in town.

As part of Kraft Hockeyville festivities, about half the Penguins roster visited the Ice Garden to sign autographs, meet fans and hold a one-hour practice.

"They came to us," said Ann Marie Thompson of Baldwin, Lori's mom. "Not all these kids will get the opportunity to go to a game or go to (the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry) and get to interact with the players. This gives them a great opportunity to come here and see them and maybe keep their drive going to play hockey."

Kraft Hockeyville is an annual contest designed to shine a spotlight on the communities that form the grassroots foundation of hockey's popularity in America.

Thanks to massive support in online voting, this year's winner was Belle Vernon, the municipality that includes Rostraver.

Festivities began earlier in the week with a visit from the Stanley Cup and Penguins alumnus Tyler Kennedy, a parade and various charitable endeavors. After Sunday's practice, a clinic with all-time NHL greats Martin Brodeur, Al MacInnis, Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar was scheduled.

"It's really cool," Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said. "To see everybody out here is great. We know we get a ton of support here in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. Today shows it gets down here to Belle Vernon."

Last month, Kraft Hockeyville officials announced Sunday night's exhibition game between the Penguins and St. Louis Blues would be moved from Rostraver to Cranberry because the Ice Garden, which is in the process of major renovations, was not "equipped" for an NHL game.

All things considered, Ice Garden owner Jim Murphy would have preferred to host the game, but Sunday wasn't the time for him to complain.

Kraft Hockeyville honors included a $150,000 grant for arena improvements. He paired it with investments of his own money to improve the rink's lighting, flooring, restrooms and ice plant.

"It's a thing of beauty," Murphy quipped. "I've never won a damn thing in my life."

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

Rebecca Tiernan (left) and nephew Garrett Hosey, 11, of West Newton, stake out a prime viewing location before Penguins players arrive for Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Rebecca Tiernan (left) and nephew Garrett Hosey, 11, of West Newton, stake out a prime viewing location before Penguins players arrive for Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Elizabeth Township residents Reagan Donnelly, 7, and sister Riona, 4, await the arrival of Pittsburgh Penguins players with their father, Bob, during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.  Riona wears a pink cap in honor of her mother, Roberta, who passed away from breast cancer.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Elizabeth Township residents Reagan Donnelly, 7, and sister Riona, 4, await the arrival of Pittsburgh Penguins players with their father, Bob, during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon. Riona wears a pink cap in honor of her mother, Roberta, who passed away from breast cancer.
Trevor Porter, 13, of Pleasant Hills, hoists a Stanley Cup replica over his head as he waits for the arrival of Penguins players to Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Trevor Porter, 13, of Pleasant Hills, hoists a Stanley Cup replica over his head as he waits for the arrival of Penguins players to Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Fans wait behind barricades for the arrival of Pittsburgh Penguins players to Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Fans wait behind barricades for the arrival of Pittsburgh Penguins players to Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins official mascot Iceburgh greets fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins official mascot Iceburgh greets fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry is the first player off the bus to greet fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry is the first player off the bus to greet fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins players meet fans and sign autographs during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins players meet fans and sign autographs during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry meets fans and signs autographs during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry meets fans and signs autographs during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins players meet fans and sign autographs during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins players meet fans and sign autographs during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins left winger Scott Wilson signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins left winger Scott Wilson signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins left winger Scott Wilson signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins left winger Scott Wilson signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Adam Johnson signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins center Adam Johnson signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins right winger Bryan Rust signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins right winger Bryan Rust signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta signs autographs for fans during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
The upgraded rink at Rostraver Ice Garden is seen during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
The upgraded rink at Rostraver Ice Garden is seen during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Belle Vernon.
Aubrie Staley, 8, and brother Braedyn, 6, of Millsboro, pose for a photo while wearing t-shirts that were signed by Pittsburgh Penguins players in attendance at Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Aubrie Staley, 8, and brother Braedyn, 6, of Millsboro, pose for a photo while wearing t-shirts that were signed by Pittsburgh Penguins players in attendance at Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Young fans kneel in front of the rink glass to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Young fans kneel in front of the rink glass to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Adam Johnson has his shot deflected by goaltender Tristan Jarry during the team's morning skate held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins center Adam Johnson has his shot deflected by goaltender Tristan Jarry during the team's morning skate held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Thomas Di Pauli is checked by goaltender Tristan Jarry during the team's morning skate held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins center Thomas Di Pauli is checked by goaltender Tristan Jarry during the team's morning skate held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Jay McClement takes a shot on goaltender Tristan Jarry during the team's morning skate held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Penguins center Jay McClement takes a shot on goaltender Tristan Jarry during the team's morning skate held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Young fans kneel in front of the rink glass to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Young fans kneel in front of the rink glass to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Fans watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Fans watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Fans watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Fans watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hold their morning skate during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Callie Rose, 12, of Canonsburg, and her mom, Cindy, meet Pittsburgh Penguins mascot Iceburgh during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Callie Rose, 12, of Canonsburg, and her mom, Cindy, meet Pittsburgh Penguins mascot Iceburgh during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Reagan Donnelly, 7, of Elizabeth Township, skates in one of the drills during hockey skills clinics held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Reagan Donnelly, 7, of Elizabeth Township, skates in one of the drills during hockey skills clinics held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Youth players battle around the net in one of the drills during hockey skills clinics held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Youth players battle around the net in one of the drills during hockey skills clinics held during Kraft Hockeyville USA events on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon.
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