Call-up from Pens excites Lafferty

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sam Lafferty plays against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a preseason NHL hockey game, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Sam Lafferty got the call Monday morning that he’s long dreamed about.

The Hollidaysburg native was promoted to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the team’s top farm team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

After being informed by WB/Scranton coach Mike Vellucci, Lafferty quickly packed some belongings and hopped in his car to make the drive across Route 80 to Pittsburgh.

“It was quite a rush to be honest,” Lafferty said during the trip Monday afternoon. “I haven’t had too much time to think about it, but it’s definitely a dream come true. I’m sure it will take a while to sink it. I’m just so excited and right away, you have people you want to call.”

Consequently, his family — father Andy, mother Jill and stepfather Dave Weaver along with his siblings — is mobilizing as well.

“Everybody is going to be at the game tomorrow (vs. Winnipeg), which is pretty exciting,” Lafferty said.

He’s not sure how many tickets he’ll need, saying, “That’s something I’ll be trying to figure out today.”

Lafferty, 24, got an extended look during the preseason, scoring a goal during an exhibition game against Buffalo at Pegula Arena, but was sent down to the Baby Penguins as the roster trimmed to its regular-season limit.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t disappointment, but I felt good about the way I played (in the exhibition season), and I was confident,” he said. “I felt like I’d get an opportunity. I just didn’t know when. It happened quicker than probably anyone expected. I’m surprised but extremely excited and can’t wait to put the Penguins sweater on tomorrow night.”

The move came when injuries forced the Pens to put forwards Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstadon injured reserve.

Lafferty (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) isn’t sure what role he’ll play, but figures he’ll learn more at today’s morning skate.

“You always have to be ready and no matter where you are, your job is to play your best,” he said. “In that regard, not much changes. I’ll just continue to approach it like at training camp. You want to always learn and keep getting better. If you go out and play your best, everything else takes care of itself. Obviously, I’d like to stay there as long as I can.”

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton teammate Andrew Agozzino was also summoned to Pittsburgh.

Lafferty, who spent two years at Hollidaysburg Area High School before graduating from the Deerfield (Mass.) Academy in 2014, is the first player in Blair County history to make the NHL.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “I think it’s a testament to how much the sport has grown in the area. I know there will be a huge community (of support) and that means lot to me. I’m really proud about that.”

In his first full professional season with Wilkes-Barre in 2018-19, Lafferty led the team with 36 assists while ranking second in scoring with 49 points. In 80 career AHL games, he notched 14 goals, 38 assists and 52 points.

Prior, Lafferty played four years at Brown University, where he racked up 29 goals, 50 assists and 79 points in 124 career contests, and captained the team as a junior and senior.

Lafferty was drafted in the fourth round (113th overall) and was the Penguins’ second selection of the 2014 NHL Draft.


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