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Fans and Players Enjoy Third Annual "Pens & Pins" Charity Bowling Tournament

Tuesday, 01.18.2011 / 12:04 PM / Features
By Joe Prince-Wright
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Fans and Players Enjoy Third Annual \"Pens & Pins\" Charity Bowling Tournament
The Pittsburgh Penguins showed off their bowling skills, which consisted of both strikes and gutter balls, at the third annual “Pens and Pins” Charity Bowling Tournament at the Crafton-Ingram Bowling Lanes Monday night.

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Fans were teamed up with the Penguins players serving as celebrity captains. The event was organized and run by the Penguins Wives Association, with all proceeds from the evening – including funds collected from an auction and baked goods – being donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia.

Head coach Dan Bylsma was especially happy to be at the event. Monday marked his second time attending “Pens and Pins.”

“This is a unique event,” Bylsma said. “I’ve been here for two years now and it’s a great chance for all the players, families, kids and Make-A-Wish to get involved, bowl and have some fun. The wives have done an amazing job putting this all together, and the players have all come out and supported this and there are lots of smiles. It is also a great chance to meet and talk to the fans.”

Sidney Crosby, who did not bowl in the event due to his concussion, co-captained the team in lane 11 with Marc-Andre Fleury. The good friends and teammates cheered each other on, and the children who bowled with them were delighted to spend some time with the superstars.

Although Crosby did not bowl, he believed Fleury’s skills were enough for the both of them, calling the goaltender the best bowler on the Penguins.

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“Flower is pretty good, so I am going to go with him,” Crosby said. “As for the worst, I am going to have to go with (Pascal) Dupuis. I don’t know how good his bowling skills are.”

Two women who were delighted to meet their heroes, Crosby and Jordan Staal, could hardly contain their excitement as the event came to a close.

Jordan and Carolyn Skowron of Pittsburgh are season ticket holders who got the chance of a lifetime to meet the players up close after donating money to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

“It’s really awesome to meet them in person and carry on a conversation,” Jordan said. “Usually we are sitting up in the stands, so it’s good to get a different point of view.”

“They are really nice people,” Carolyn added. “It’s been great to meet them.”

Jeff Booth’s son was seen with a huge smile on his face as he joined Crosby and Fleury in lane 11. His father was delighted to see his son mingling and joking around with his heroes.

“He started playing a sport called sled hockey, it’s an adaptive sport for children with disabilities,” Booth said. “And ever since he started playing that he has been a huge fan of the Penguins.”

Mr. Booth and his family, from Johnstown, had nothing but good things to say about the Pittsburgh players who took the time to spend the evening with their fans.

“These guys are a class act the whole way through,” he said. “And I think they really enjoy what it is they are doing. It doesn’t look like you’re bothering them at all; they are very personable with the kids and the kids feel at ease with them.”

FSN Pittsburgh’s Dan Potash was the guest announcer for the evening, but he also had a very special assistant in Penguins forward Mike Rupp. The two co-emceed the tournament.

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About 85 fans that donated to Make-A-Wish and 12 Make-A-Wish children bowled at the event, which the Penguins wives and girlfriends began planning back in September.

The original idea was the brainchild of Erin Lilly. Lilly said that she first thought about possibly hosting a charity bowling event after living in Boston and learning about how the Bruins’ wives do a carnival event each year.

Last year, the Penguins raised about $43,000 for Make-a-Wish, an $8,000 increase on the previous year’s total. The Wives Association hopes to raise even more money for the organization this year. The players’ custom-made bowling shirts will be autographed and auctioned off for charity.

"It’s fantastic, everyone has had such a good time everyone gets more and more excited about it each year,” Maureen Kunitz, wife of Penguins forward Chris Kunitz, said. “Working with kids is a blast, a lot of us are parents and it’s good to see the smiles on their faces.”

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