This week at Pittsburgh Penguins prospect development camp is not the first time goaltender Matt Skoff has been on the ice at Consol Energy Center.
Skoff, a native of McKees Rocks, Pa., has played for Penn State three times in the Three Rivers Classic college hockey tournaments held at the home of the Pens. He also played for Montour High School in their run to the 2009 PIHL Penguins cup final at Mellon Arena.
During his career with Penn State, he’s also played in Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Arena, Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center and New York’s Madison Square Garden.
So, skating in an NHL building and hanging out in an NHL should be no big deal for the 23-year netminder. However, this time, it’s different. This time, he’s skating with the Penguins logo on his sweater for the first time.
“It’s awesome,” he said of playing for his hometown team. “It’s fun to be on the other side of the glass and wear that Penguins jersey. It’s a good feeling. Any time you step on that ice, it’s fun”
Make no mistake; Skoff isn’t playing for the black and gold this week because of his area code. He’s a legitimate pro prospect and outplayed his stable mate at Penn State, New York Islanders third-round pick Eamon McAdam, for large stretches last season.
But it’s just as certain that if Skoff was going to play in an NHL development camp this offseason, this is where he wanted to be.
“I talked to my advisor and if there was a chance to go somewhere, Pittsburgh was number one choice,” he said. “A good example would be [Penguins forward and fellow Pittsburgh-area native] Ty Loney. The way he signed with Wilkes-Barre, I think that’s awesome. It’s obviously a dream come true to sign anywhere, but Pittsburgh is a little different, it’s just better.”
While Skoff isn’t in position to earn a contract right now – he’ll head back to Penn State for his senior season – he feels that his time with the Nittany Lions under head coach Guy Gadowsky has well suited him to take the step to the next level.
“Gadowsky treats you like a pro,” Skoff said. “He tells us every day that he has a results-based program. I think that’s very effective in terms of when you turn pro, it’s going to be the same way. People want winners. That’s the way he treats his players and that’s a good way to get players to advance to the next level.”
Penn State’s regular-season opener will be at Pegula Ice Arena on October 15 against Notre Dame.
Skoff will get another chance to show off his skills to the Penguins brass and Pittsburgh fans when his Penn State squad returns to Pittsburgh for the 2015 Three Rivers Classic on December 28 and 29.