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Prospect Challenge: Pens/Senators takeaways, tournament concludes today

A new cult hero emerges

@pensinsidescoop

Few things are better in the sport of hockey than the obscure cult hero. A new one is budding in Jagger Joshua. His name is cool to say. He’s a ton of fun to watch play hockey - using his size and going out of his way to be physical before and after the whistle. It’s a throwback style, and it’s going to earn a lot of fans.

In fact, even non-partisan Buffalo natives were won over by Jagger’s antics in the Penguin prospects 8-3 win over Ottawa on Saturday. Joshua was a heat magnet, throwing out huge hits all game and getting completely under the skin and in their head’s of his opponents. From WBSPenguins.com:

It started with Joshua landing a thundering open-ice hit, followed by another series of heavy blows to unsuspecting Senators. Evan Vierling ultimately tied the game at 4:20 of the opening period.

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“The way the boys bounced back, it definitely helped us in the long run,” Joshua said. “I think it’s all about the response, and we all responded well.”Joshua’s impact on the game cannot be understated, and the entertainment value he provided to the afternoon was through the roof. In fact, he earned some hearty cheers and chants from fans clad in Buffalo Sabres gear as the Penguins left the ice once things went final.

Forrest said the following about Joshua postgame: “That’s what he does. He plays with a physical edge. He’s not shy out there, and he brings a type of juice to the bench and a different type of swagger. You love to see it. It gets the guys into the game, and you don’t have a choice, right? He’s bringing you into the game no matter what.”

Joshua, 24, is on an AHL contract. He was undrafted and finished up at Michigan State last year. He might not ever make it to the NHL, but if he keeps up this intensity and edgy, entertaining brand of hockey, he might drive some ticket sales in Northeastern PA in the days ahead.

Here were the lines used, with several changes and different looks from the opening game on Friday.

Former first round picks Sam Poulin and Brayden Yager scored goals on Saturday. As to be expected in the course of an 8-3 victory, it was a good day for just about any and everyone wearing the skating Penguins. Wilkes-Barre coach J.D. Forrest was impressed by not just Yager scoring, but what position he was in and why he was there after making a smart and unselfish read to cover on defense.

“He’s a smart player. And for someone his age, he’s playing both sides of the ice with a level of maturity that you don’t often see with guys coming through from junior. I think he takes a lot of pride in that up-and-down game and making sure he’s responsible on the defensive side of things. But he has the ability to make plays, made a couple of nice slick little passes. The goal he scored tonight, he’s reloading for a D that’s pinching, which is a responsible thing to do. But it pays off on the offensive side for him. We think that’s something impressive for a young player to have already.”

The Penguins prospects finish things out in Buffalo today with a 5pm game against the host Sabres. From there, the youngsters will head back to Pittsburgh and some will be sticking around for the start of NHL training camp this Wednesday.