WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Tom Sestito walked into the locker room at the Toyota Sportsplex on Tuesday and felt right at home.
For a player who was injured on the first day of training camp with Pittsburgh and was sent down by the NHL club last weekend, Sestito wasn’t disappointed to arrive in Wilkes-Barre to begin the 2017 season. After spending the majority of the last two seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he and his family have grown fond of the area.
“I’m very comfortable here, my family is comfortable here and I’m happy to be here,” Sestito said. “I think I know where I’m going in this city now, and I have the same old stall right next to Tom Kostopoulos.”
Sestito has proven to be pretty comfortable on the ice at the AHL level as well. Last season he tallied six goals and 16 points, exceeding his total from the previous year despite playing in eight fewer games. And it was fitting that for a player known for his toughness, Sestito led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 121 penalty minutes last season, a total he amassed in only 33 games.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is happy to have Sestito back as well. He ad coach Clark Donatelli said the veteran winger adds a number of elements to the team and also increases the leadership group in the room and on the ice.
“It’s great to have him back. He came down with a real great attitude and looks good out there,” Donatelli said.
Despite being a proven commodity in the physicality department, Pittsburgh traded for another tough guy in Ryan Reaves over the summer. While they also re-signed Sestito to a one-year, two-way deal, it was clear that Reaves would be the one to handle the enforcer duties in Pittsburgh this season.
And it was a collision with Reaves on the first day of training camp that resulted in Sestito missing a few weeks with a lower body injury.
He also didn’t get in to any exhibition games, but Sestito isn’t worried about being ready for the season opener on Oct. 7.
“I had a little setback at camp, but I’m good to go now,” he said. “It stinks when you can’t play in the exhibition games and make an impression, but they know what I can do.”
• On the injury front, center Colin Smith, who has been dealing with an injury, participated in half of practice on Tuesday. Donatelli said Smith is day-to-day, along with defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who was injured in the second preseason game. Garrett Wilson wasn’t at practice but Donatelli said he’s dealing with a personal issue and isn’t injured. Wilson will be ready for the start of the season, while the availability of Smith and Tinordi is unknown.
• On Monday, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton released forwards Riley Bourbonnais, Cam Brown, Reid Gardiner, Nick Sorkin and Cody Wydo as well as defenseman Craig Skudalski and goalies Will King and Colin Stevens. They will all report to Wheeling’s training camp.