Pittsburgh Penguins Affiliate Hosts First-Ever Open Tryout in Wilkes-Barre

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WILKES-BARRE -- Drill after drill, hockey players were doing their best to turn some heads at the Toyota Sportsplex in Wilkes-Barre.

Forty hockey players were competing for a chance to go to training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins affiliate ECHL Wheeling Nailers based out of West Virginia.

Athletes competing for spots came from our area and as far as Canada and Russia.

“Hockey continues to grow and evolve in this area and we are in a position now where even 15 years ago you would not think of hosting an event like this,” said Jason Jarecki, general manager of The Toyota SportsPlex.

Billy Romanowski is from Harding and tells Newswatch 16 most hockey players have to travel two to 15 hours for tryouts like this one.

As a defenseman, Romanowski was happy to defend home-ice.

“It’s really helpful because a lot of the local guys can get a chance to actually try out and see what they can do,” said Romanowski.

Wheeling Nailers Head Coach Jeff Christian explained as the pace of hockey has become much quicker, speed and skill at goal tending are vital to winning games.

“We are looking for speed. We are looking for skill. That’s what this free agent camp is all about. I don't want any fights out there. Play hockey. We aren’t looking for guys to go out and hurt each other,” said Christian.

Players will find out if they'll be invited to the Wheeling Nailers training camp this upcoming week.

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