Kostopoulos Returns 1/31

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The date was November 4th, 2000. They hosted the Rochester Americans. Just the 2nd season for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and being that I was only 11 years old and attending one of my first pro hockey games, I stayed after the game for the post-session autograph signing.

Little did I know then that my first autograph, from a hockey player born in Mississauga, Ontario, would be a guy who would go on to become one of the most prominent figures of the then very young AHL franchise. And on an even brighter note? After more than a decade later, I get to cover the team he plays for once again as a sports journalist. That's right folks, Tom Kostopoulos is back in a Penguins uniform.

He made his return to the WBS lineup for the first time in over nine years last Friday night against none other than the Rochester Americans. Kostopoulos logged 15:39 of ice time in his first hockey game of the 2012-13 season, and recorded an assist on Zach Sill's first goal of the year.

"It's fun to come back," Kostopoulos said. "This facility here is amazing [Coal Street] and it's good to see some familiar faces."

Paired on a checking line with Zach Sill and rookie Adam Payerl, Kostopoulos appears to be playing the same style of hockey that old-time WBS Penguins fans from the last millennium came to admire: A gritty, hardworking and nonstop hustle that has often been identified as the definition of Penguins hockey.

Tomorrow, Tom Kostopoulos will not only be playing his first game back in front of the Mohegan Sun Arena crowd, it will be his 1,000th regular season game as a pro.

"It'll be exciting to come back. I spent my first four seasons with the Penguins and it's ironic how it's gone full-circle."

The Penguins host another one of Kostopoulos' former teams tomorrow night when the Manchester Monarchs come to town. Check out today's practice update below.


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