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One Christmas wish Pens are glad to Grant

December 22, 2012

If playing goalie meant more ice time, Alex Grant would be willing to man the crease for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.


I would accept any role, he said.


Although Grant really doesn't need to worry about what paint scheme he would put on his goalie mask, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him on one of the Penguins' forward lines.


That's where Grant played during Wednesday's game in Binghamton, and head coach John Hynes was impressed with the way he adjusted to the switch from his usual position on defense.


With a glut of defensemen on the roster, the switch to forward allowed Hynes to get Grant – and his booming slapshot – into the lineup.


And he didn't rule out doing it again.


That's a lineup possibility we would consider more in the future, Hynes said after Friday's practice at Coal Street. He did a good job up there. He's a good skater with good offensive instincts, and it's another way to utilize his assets in the lineup.


Grant finished the night with three shots and said while it was an adjustment, he grew more comfortable playing forward as the game went on.


I enjoyed it and I'd be willing to do it again, Grant said. You really have to be checked in mentally and as a professional athlete you have to be able to adapt to changes like that.


When it comes to changing positions, Hynes said the toughest thing with moving from defense to forward is dealing with the increased skating. Grant had to do more end-to-end skating, forechecking and tracking the puck than he did as a defenseman, Hynes said.


In the end, the move could help the Penguins – and Grant's career in the longterm.


Anytime a player can play multiple positions it's good for their career. You always have the opportunity to get into the lineup and it makes you better because you understand the responsibility that comes with each position, Hynes said.


I sometimes wish every player could coach and then go back and play again. It's funny what you learn when you're not in your usual position, and then you can go back and re-apply things.


NOTES

- With Brad Thiessen out of town for a wedding on Friday, the Penguins had a guest goaltender for practice. Back Mountain resident Kyle Banks, 19, donned the goalie gear and participated in several drills along with the shootout competition at the end of practice. Banks plays adult league hockey locally and played at the high school level for Dallas.


He did a great job for us, Hynes said. He came in there halfway through and took to it.


Banks said the toughest part of the experience was facing Robert Bortuzzo in the shootout.


He got me pretty good with his little move there. We both went opposite ways so he got a good move on me, Banks said. But it was a blast and an experience that not a lot of people get to do. I'd love to do it again.


- Hynes said Phil Dupuis will return to action for tonight's game in Syracuse against the Crunch. Beau Bennett, Simon Despres, Jayson Megna and Keven Veilleux are all out.


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