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Penguins going back to Buffalo for Prospects Challenge 2018

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5 weeks until Pens hockey starts

NHL: Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For I believe the 4th year in a row, the Penguins are participating with familiar NHL teams for a “prospects challenge” event up in Buffalo. Logistically it makes a lot of sense to take the trip so they’re going again.

Pens hockey (sorta) starts 5 weeks from today!

More details at nhl.com

Friday, Sept. 7

• Pittsburgh vs. Boston, 3:30 p.m.

• Buffalo vs. New Jersey, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 8

• New Jersey vs. Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m.

• Buffalo vs. Boston, 7 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 10

• Boston vs. New Jersey, 9:30 a.m.

• Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh, 12:30 p.m.

Last year, Pittsburgh brought two players to this event that ended up playing in the regular season in Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese. It was also where undrafted tryout Jordy Bellerive continued to impress and was signed to the Pens - so while still under the radar this is an important event for many young players who are looking to start off their 2018-19 seasons the right way.

The first official day on the ice for Pittsburgh’s NHL training camp is Friday September 14th, with off-ice medicals and “day 1” work scheduled the day prior on Sept. 13. The Penguins six game exhibition season begins on Tuesday Sept. 18, ironically also in Buffalo.

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If you like under the radar nuggets (and since you’re reading a hockey blog in the dead of summer you probably do), here’s an update on former Pens assistant scout Scott Bell.

Great for him to land on his feet (and I imagine the Maple Leafs probably pay pretty well too) but you gotta feel for Bell. He called the University of Minnesota (where he also played in the early ‘90s) “a dream job” when he left the Pens to take a post there last year. But it was bad timing through no fault of his own as the Golden Gophers had an uncharacteristically down year (for the second year in a row) it led to the ouster of long-time head coach Don Lucia. As so often happens, a new head coach means a lot of turnover on the rest of the entire coaching staff moving forward.

Bell might be most famous in the Pittsburgh organization for being the first to discover Jake Guentzel. Bell was instrumental in the draft process of the young Minnesotan.

“He weighed 105 pounds and he was like 5-1,” Bell said with a laugh. “But he was this magic little player that everybody said, ‘he’s too small, he’s too small.’ Then he just kept scoring points and making plays.”

...

“I jumped up, like oh my god, we’re going to get (Guentzel)! This is so wonderful,” Bell laughed. “It was a feeling of sickness to ecstasy in about a two-minute span.”

After Guentzel went through everything a draft pick does, like stopping at Pittsburgh’s draft table, doing media and taking photos for his draft potraits and rookie cards, he went to the Penguins’ suite to meet the rest of the scouts.

”All of the other scouts hadn’t seen Jake,” Bell recalled. “They’re like, ‘that’s your guy?’ I’m like, ‘that’s him.’ They’re like, ‘the kid that looks like a fourth-grader? We took him?’ I’m like yeah, ‘that’s him. He’s awesome.’”

Hopefully he doesn’t find the next Guentzel for Auston Matthews to play beside...