Penguins fans are pretty familiar with two of the names fighting for spots between the team’s pipes. Both Andy Chiodo and Jeff Deslauriers had successful stints with the club previously, and could be suiting up for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on opening night.
But a newcomer might become better known before long following a stellar performance on Sunday evening.
Rookie Eric Hartzell stopped 20 of 21 shots to post a 2-1 win over the Hershey Bears at the Mohegan Sun Arena, helping the Pens to a 2-1-1-0 record in preseason action.
Hartzell came up extremely big in the third period, stopping a flurry of shots with time running down to secure the Pens’s victory.
“He played well tonight. He was tested. He came up large there at the end and he had some good saves,” said head coach John Hynes. “He was a guy that’s got better as the training camp has gone on, so that’s good to see.”
A finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player last year, Hartzell led the Quinnipiac Bobcats to the NCAA final in 2013 with a 30-7-5 mark and 1.57 goals against average while appearing in 42 of the team’s 43 games.
And while that is a lot of work for any netminder, the championship game against the Yale Bulldogs on April 13 at the Consol Energy Center was the last time he played a full game until Sunday.
“The reason [he played the entire game] was that he’s the most inexperienced guy that we have here, and we just wanted to give him that experience,” Hynes said. “He hadn’t played a full game yet, whether that was in [rookie camp in] London or in main camp, or in the camp here. So we just wanted to give him that experience and ability to play 60 minutes at this level.”
Overall in preseason, Hartzell posted a 2-0 record (he also recorded the win in a 2-1 OT decision against the Rochester Americans on Friday night), and stopped 45 of 49 shots in parts of three games, a .918 save percentage.
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