Rookie Dominik Uher doesn't want his Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins teammates to miss what Zach Sill brought to the ice.
He wants to play physical like Sill. Be responsible defensively like Sill and bring the high-energy element that Sill has brought to the team for the last three seasons.
In fact, Uher basically wants to be Zach Sill.
It's time for me to step up and play just like him, Uher said after Tuesday's practice at Coal Street. We're a little different players, but we have similar roles. I'm trying to play like him.
Sill suffered an upper body injury when he blocked a shot during last Friday's game in Springfield. Head coach John Hynes said he'll be out five to six weeks, creating an opportunity for some of the young Penguins to step in.
Uher, who is a 19-year-old rookie, gained some ice time Saturday and Sunday and brought the energy/physical element that the team lost in Sill. For the native of the Czech Republic, the North American style of hockey is suiting Uher just fine.
I really enjoy being gritty out there, he said of his latest opportunity. I feel sorry for Siller, but now's a chance to show I can be good in this position. I can step up.
Hynes said Uher and fellow rookie Adam Payerl will both get a chance to fill the void left by Sill during his absence. Payerl has also seen extensive ice time this season on the fourth line and said he's willing to play any style that Hynes needs.
If he wants me to be physical every night, then that's what I'm going to bring to the game, Payerl said. It's an opportunity to show my stuff, so whatever kind of style coach is looking for I'm ready.
Having two young players vie for a single opening is the type of competition Hynes loves. Having a job opening on the line brings out the best in those players, he said.
Payerl and Uher are two guys we brought in to be high-energy players – a menace to play against, Hynes said. They're two young, hungry guys that are really going to try to capitalize on this opening.
- Veteran center Warren Peters isn't taking solace in the fact that the season is young and there is plenty of time for the team to turn around from its 0-4 start. Yet, he isn't panicking either. We can't rest on the fact that's it's only four games (into the season). We have to turn it around, Peters said. But we don't have to make drastic changes. Peters said the team has competed well in each of its four losses and made mistakes that other teams made them pay for. The mistakes are the problem, he said. We shot ourselves in the foot in a few of those games. But you have to give credit to those teams for making us pay.
- After losing all three games over the weekend, Hynes is looking forward to a week of practice before the Penguins begin another three-in-three this Friday. Areas that will be focused on include puck movement, offense and transitioning out of the zone – something that some of the new players may need some time adjusting to. There's elements of it that are very different for the new players, Hynes said.
- Another area of focus will be limiting penalties – a problem that plagued the Penguins over the weekend. Hynes said the penalties stem from a lack of discipline on the ice. It's been bad judgment. We discussed it. We took some action as a group and it will be improved this weekend.