Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese was back at Penguins practice, Friday as the team practiced at the Amelia Arena in Tampa Bay. It was the first time Aston-Reese has joined the team for practice since the forward suffered a broken hand in a fight with Florida Panthers forward Colton Sceviour on Jan. 8.
Aston Reese wore a non-contact jersey and his return is not imminent, but he was happy to get back in the ice with the team.
“Feels really good (to be back with the team). It’s always a little weird to do 1-on-1 skates and skills stuff,” Aston-Reese said. “That’s not really my game, doing all of that skill stuff.”
This season, Aston-Reese was a presence on the Penguins fourth line with allowed head coach Mike Sullivan to deploy the line against the opposition’s top line, and Aston-Reese was part of the Penguins penalty killing unit.
The rookie forward who was an undrafted free agent from Northeastern University has 11 points (6g, 5a) in 30 games this season.
“I felt good today. My lungs felt good. My legs felt good,” he said.
Aston-Reese has been skating since just a few days after suffering the injury.
“I didn’t take much of a break, I was able to skate the whole time so I was able to go on the California road trip with just a tracksuit on,” Aston-Reese joked. “I just did suicides (the skating drill) the whole time because I couldn’t do much of anything else.”
Though Aston-Reese did admit it may not have been the fight which injured him, or at least the couple punches he landed directly on Sceviour’s head. “The doctor thinks it was from maybe being fallen on, but I just remember getting into the box and thought it was a bruise or something.”
Aston-Reese is still week-to-week but joining the team for practice, even in a non-contact jersey means his return could be within a couple of weeks.