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Penguins Notebook: 2 young players make mark

Ference, Meloche star in camp tournament

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

By Dejan Kovacevic, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Two of the Penguins' young players battling for roster spots made statements in the training camp tournament at Southpointe yesterday.

Defenseman Andrew Ference scored two goals, then added another on a slick move in the postgame shootout, as his Black team lost to White, 8-7. Right winger Eric Meloche, also of the Black team, scored on a breakaway for his second goal in as many games.

Ference, coming off a backward-step 2001-02 season, is one of 12 NHL-tested defensemen vying for seven or eight jobs.

"Nothing extra, just a little something," Ference said of his two regulation goals, both coming on rushes up ice. "I've tried to do a little extra before, and it just gets you in trouble. I think it's just seeing an opportunity and going up there."

Meloche, who went without a goal in his first 23 NHL games last season, hopes to make the team as a checking forward. But he acknowledged a little production won't hurt his cause.

"This is my third year of camp here, and these are the first two goals I've gotten," he said. "I think that's the reason I didn't stay in the NHL last year, because they wanted me to score a little more."

Tournament finale today

Black and White will meet again at 10:30 a.m. today in the tournament championship game. Black squandered a 6-2 lead yesterday, as White scored six of the last seven goals, including the final four. Defenseman Janne Laukkanen's point shot off center Kris Beech's clean faceoff win with 3:08 remaining was the winner.

Also scoring for White were right winger Tom Kostopoulos (two), center Michal Sivek, right winger Aleksey Morozov, left winger Matt Murley and defensemen Alexandre Rouleau and Ross Lupaschuk. Other black goals came from right winger Bobby Russell, left wingers Steve McKenna and Jacques Lariviere and defenseman Francois Leroux.

The intensity remained high for a second consecutive day: Left winger Dan LaCouture got the best of defenseman Darcy Robinson in a fight. Defenseman Michal Rozsival flattened Lariviere -- at 6 feet 3, 218 pounds one of the biggest men in camp -- with a clean, open-ice hit. And center Wayne Primeau slashed defenseman Josef Melichar hard enough to crack Melichar's stick in two.

Lemieux doubles up

For the first time, center Mario Lemieux participated in his group's full two-hour workout, rather than just the first half as he had done the two previous days. The drills were noncontact but were his closest thing to a game simulation since the start of camp, and he continued to look smooth and strong.

"He felt good, and he wanted to go to the second session," Coach Rick Kehoe said. "Hopefully, he does that again."

"He looked really good," goaltender Johan Hedberg said. "It's great to see."

A new Moose

Hedberg was delighted after practice to receive his new mask for the coming season, custom designed by noted Swedish artist David Gunnarsson. It features the usual depiction of a cartoonish moose, more of the Las Vegas gold the Penguins have incorporated into their uniforms and, most important, the skating-penguin logo on the front.

"I couldn't go out there with an old logo, right?" he said.

For a sample of Gunnarsson's work on the Web, access http://www.daveart.com.

Tip-ins

Left winger Alexander Zevakhin still had not received word of the results of tests on his injured right shoulder as of yesterday afternoon. Kehoe said the team should know something in a day or two. ... Center Kent Manderville returned to the ice after missing a day because of a groin injury. He did not participate in his scheduled game with the White team but skated instead with the morning group. Morozov, one of six veterans who had been held out of the tournament, took his place in the White lineup. ... Tournament scoring leader is left winger Vladimir Vujtek with five points, all assists. He made a Hail Mary-style pass to spring Meloche for a breakaway goal yesterday. He later sprung Russell and left winger Matt Hussey with a similar flip pass for a two-on-one before Russell scored. ... Scott Greenspun, agent for right winger Alexei Kovalev, said last night he has not heard from the Penguins regarding the revised offer of a contract extension they have said they are planning to submit soon. Both sides have agreed contract talks would end Oct. 9, the day before the regular season.

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