Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Tristan Jarry and David Warsofsky have arrived in Allentown, Pa. and are both participating in the first All-Star weekend of their careers. First up is tonight’s Skills Competition, for which the American Hockey League announced the participants for each event earlier this afternoon.
Warsofsky will be one of the eight players selected for the CCM Hardest Shot challenge, before joining other All-Stars for the Pass and Score and Breakaway Relay.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Warsofsky said. “It should be a lot of fun… I think I have a hard shot. I don’t know how it’s going to stack up against the other guys, but I should hold my own.”
Jarry, on the other hand, will be tasked with stopping a lot of shots in other events. He will find himself staring down some of the top snipers from the Western conference in the AHL Live Rapid Fire shooting gallery, the Pass and Score odd-man rush display, and finally, the Breakaway Relay.
“They’re all pretty exciting,” Jarry said. “I can’t say I’m more excited for one of them over the other. I’m just excited for all of them.”
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has only gone to one shootout this season, and that was the only time Jarry tended goal for a shootout in his two-year pro career. However, he’s not at all concerned about any rust in the final event thanks to the constant conditioning in practice from his captain, Tom Kostopoulos.
“T.K. loves doing a shootout,” Jarry said with a grin. “So he makes us do them at least once a week. I don’t think we miss any practice during our shootouts.”
While this is both Warsofsky and Jarry’s first All-Star event of any kind in their careers, one man in their locker room at PPL Center has become a veteran of sorts of the league’s annual display of elite talent. Matt Taormina of the Syracuse Crunch has been named to four AHL All-Star Classics and is participating in the festivities for the third year in a row. The defenseman has compiled the experience necessary to depart these words of wisdom to this year’s first-timers like Warsofsky and Jarry.
“Relax and have fun and enjoy it,” Taormina said. “There’s no pressure, so it doesn’t really matter what you do. Just have fun. We’re technically on break, too, you know? So keep it light. Take the time to talk to the other guys in the conference and get to know them a little better. Those are the guys you’re grinding away with through the year, so get to know how good of guys they are now. Because when the season starts again and you hit the ice, that’s a different story.”
• Warsofsky noted that he likes to use a stick with a lot of flex in the shaft during the season, and has no plans to change things up for the Hardest Shot competition. He’s also looking forward to seeing any action photos caught of him using all the torc possible in his flexy stick when the event is over.
• Last night in the NHL Skills Competition in Los Angeles, Calif., Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith stole the show by scoring a goal from 200 feet into a tiny hole carved out of the bottom of a barrier filling the net. The jaw-dropping shot didn’t elude the eyes of Jarry, who watched it on the Penguins’ bus ride back from Binghamton last night.
“That was really neat, really cool,” Jarry said of Smith’s feat. “He’s really good at handling the puck. I’m sure he’s done it more than once.”
Jarry coyly stated that if you gave him 20 pucks, “maybe a few more”, he’d be able to nail the target from that distance, too. His coach, Clark Donatelli, backed up the claim.
“Jars can really shoot the puck, actually,” Donatelli said. “You know what, if he wants 20 pucks, I’d give it to him. He’s pretty good.”