Itā??s been almost a month since center Matt Rust appeared in a game, and that will change this weekend.
As the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins wrap up the regular season with three games in three days, beginning with a home matchup against Binghamton tonight, Rust is looking forward to the opportunity to simply play in a game again.
He appeared in 41 games this season, posting four goals and 11 points. Rust hasnā??t played since March 18 and has been a healthy scratch for the last 11 games, but he hasnā??t let the difficult stretch have a negative impact.
ā??You have to keep your head in the game,ā? Rust said. ā??Youā??re a professional and part of your job is to understand the situation and your role with the team. The biggest thing is to stay upbeat and give 100 percent in practice.ā?
This weekend Rust will get a chance to give 100 percent in games. Head coach John Hynes said he will play the rookie center, but he added it isnā??t an audition for Rust to earn playoff time.
They already know what Rust brings to the table, Hynes said, hinting that he could be relied upon in the postseason.
ā??We feel confident heā??ll be able to contribute for us and heā??s shown us what he can do all year long,ā? Hynes said. ā??He needs to play well and have a playoff-type mentality in these games. Other than that, he made a statement all year long and heā??s going to be an important guy for us.ā?
Rust said he is excited to get back into game action this weekend and added that while his playoff ice time is unknown, itā??s important to prepare as if heā??s in the lineup.
ā??Iā??m pretty confident in myself and I know when the time comes and coach needs me to fill a role, Iā??ll be ready,ā? Rust said.
One more point
With three games left in the regular season, the Penguins need one point to lock up home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They are currently five points ahead of the Hershey Bears for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and are likely to meet their division rival in the first round.
But clinching home ice isnā??t the Penguins primary focus this weekend, Hynes said.
ā??We want to try and win the games, thatā??s the biggest thing. We have to take another step,ā? Hynes said. ā??If we do that, hopefully we can get that point early in the weekend.ā?
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins added six players from the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL on Thursday. Forwards Chris Barton, Cody Chupp, Ryan Schnell and defenseman Andrew Hotham have been recalled from loan, while goaltender Patrick Killeen has been assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by Pittsburgh. In addition, defenseman Peter Merth has been assigned to a professional try-out agreement.
Tough guy coming to town
On Saturday former Philadelphia Flyer and Pittsburgh Penguin Dave Schultz will attend the Penguinsā?? game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to sign autographs and drop the puck during a ceremonial face-off.
While the ex-ā??Broad Street Bullyā? will be signing autographs for a limited time during the game, you can guarantee your chance to meet Dave Schultz himself by attending the Penguinsā?? Hockey 101. Fans will have the opportunity to attend a special VIP Meet and Greet with Schultz prior to the game.
A limited amount of tickets are available for this unique opportunity, beginning at 2 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Cost of the tickets is $30 and includes admission to the event, a tour of the arena and the Penguins locker room, a Hockey 101 and a ā??Behind the Scenesā? session, a ticket to the game that evening, an 8x10 color photo of Schultz.
Tickets can be purchased by contacting Emily Kain at the Penguinsā?? Front Office at 208-5415.
at WBS Penguins
Mohegan Sun Arena
7:05 p.m. today