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Goligoski to make NHL debut

Former Grand Rapids Thunderhawk and Minnesota Gopher Alex Goligoski is expected to make his NHL debut tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins.

Former Grand Rapids Thunderhawk and Minnesota Gopher Alex Goligoski is expected to make his NHL debut tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins.

The 22-year-old defenseman was called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) last Tuesday and has been a healthy scratch for the last three Penguin games.

Goligoski has played 43 games this season for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton registering six goals and 11 assists for 17 points and a plus-5 rating. His six goals and five power-play goals led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defensemen. Goligoski was recently selected to play for the PlanetUSA squad at the AHL All-Star Classic.

Goligoski was originally selected by the Penguins in the second round (61st overall) in the 2004 NHL Draft. He completed a three-year collegiate career last season at the University of Minnesota. He tallied 98 points (25 goals, 73 assists) in 117 career games.

He was named First Team All-American and Defensive Player of the Year in the WCHA following the 2006-07 season.

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The son of former Superiorites Dan and Paula Goligoski, now of Grand Rapids, Minn., is unsure if he'll actually play tonight, or even how long he will remain with the Penguins, but he plans to enjoy whatever time remains in his first NHL stint.

"I've learned a lot, though, just being around these guys and seeing how they handle themselves on a day-to-day basis," Goligoski said. "It's been an eye-opener."

"He actually thought he was going to be sent down on Sunday, but they sent two other guys down," Dan Goligoski said. "He's really enjoying his time and is really excited about suiting up tonight."

Penguins director of player development Tom Fitzgerald said Goligoski's performance in the minors merited his promotion.

"He has made great strides," Fitzgerald said of the left-handed shooting defenseman who gives the Penguins seven defensemen.

"He's got those offensive instincts that you want defensemen to have in today's NHL," Goligoski's AHL coach Todd Richards said. "He can get a little bit stronger. He gets to go (to Pittsburgh), practice with the guys ... and, hopefully, he gets to put on a jersey and get into a game."

PENGUIN NOTES: Tonight's home game with Boston begins at 6:30 p.m. Pittsburgh is then at Carolina at 6 p.m. Thursday. ... The Penguins are currently in first place of the Atlantic Division with a 32-19-5 record and 69 points. ... The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Goligoski will wear No. 67 for the Penguins.

Rob Rossi of the The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review contributed to this report.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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