When Andrey Pedan scored more than half of his five goals this season in one game for his first-career hat trick, he noticed something was missing.
“There weren’t many hats out there because we were playing on the road,” he said.
Pedan’s three-goal night came last Saturday in Quebec against the Laval Titan. The Penguins won the game, 4-3, and Pedan raised his offensive production on the season to five goals and 16 points in 31 games.
Pedan is five points shy of his career high and is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s second-leading scorer among defensemen, trailing Kevin Czuczman (21 points).
Saturday’s hat trick coupled with two assists the night before against Belleville, a game where Pedan was also a plus-4, earned him CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors.
But don’t be fooled by the recent outburst of offense. The 6-5, 213-pound Pedan knows what his true strength is on the ice.
“I’m not really worried about points. I’m just trying to take care of the D-zone,” he said. “We have a great group of forwards that I just need to give them the puck and that way I’ll get points.”
Pedan joined the Pittsburgh in October after he was traded by Vancouver for Derrick Pouliot. Head coach Clark Donatelli and his coaching staff have been working with Pedan to get him up to speed with Pittsburgh’s system, and Saturday’s hat trick is proof that he has firm grasp on how the organization plays.
“I think you can see a big difference since the trade,” Donatelli said. “Less is more with him, and he’s buying in.”
In addition to a heavy emphasis on defense, Pedan’s physical play is another attribute that he brings to the ice. Early in his pro career Pedan worked to establish his physical game by readily dropping the gloves with any willing opponent.
But that part of his game has changed a bit. So far this season, Pedan has one fighting major to his credit.
He said the gloves don’t come off as often because he his reputation as a tough player is already well-known. But that doesn’t mean Pedan won’t hesitate to challenge an opponent to protect a teammate.
“I used to fight the tough guys just to fight. Now, I need to be more of a player than a fighter,” Pedan said. “I still have it in my game even though I don’t look for it. But I don’t want a reputation of a guy that just fights. I want to be a player that has ability to.”
Points might not be Pedan’s forte, but recording a hat trick does go a long way toward proving he is a player with plenty of ability.
F Tom Kostopoulos skated with the team during Tuesday’s practice but is still considered week-to-week, Donatelli said, as are F Tom Sestito, D Lukas Bengtsson and G Michael Leighton.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky