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Deryk Engelland

Deryk Engelland has two points and a plus-3 rating in nine games with the Penguins this season. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Deryk Engelland has two points and a plus-3 rating in nine games with the Penguins this season. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

With Kevin Kennedy

The first time I skated was in my backyard in Leduc, Alta. My dad was a welder and even though he transferred around a lot with work, he still found the time to build a rink for us in the backyard wherever we lived. We moved to Mayerthorpe, Alta., when I was in Grade 3 and stayed to Grade 6 when we moved to Chetwynd, B.C., where we settled down.

I’d say both my mom and dad are responsible for getting me into hockey. My mom was a big hockey fan and my dad was a big soccer player and I think he got into hockey because of my mom. I played a little soccer as a kid, but I wasn’t very good - too much running for me.

My first year playing hockey in Chetwynd was peewee and I remember we played all our games in Alberta because it was a lot closer than any towns with teams in B.C. We won the Alberta League, but we couldn’t go to the Provincial Championships because it was at the same time as the Alberta final.

When I wasn’t playing hockey we used to camp a lot in the summers. We’d ride four-wheelers, go fishing and hunting, that kind of stuff. I snowboarded a little bit in the winter, but not so much anymore. Actually, I probably haven’t snowboarded since I was in junior. If I didn’t make it playing hockey, I would probably be doing some kind of trade apprenticeship somewhere. I love working with my hands and I’d probably still be in Chetwynd - a big manufacturing town.

The day I first got called up from the minors, we’d just finished a game at home in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., and we were leaving that night to go on a road trip. The coach called me in after the game and told me the good news. Within 45 minutes I was in a car on my way to Philadelphia. I stayed the night there and probably got three hours of sleep before getting up at 4:00 a.m. to catch a flight to San Jose. Alex Goligoski wasn’t feeling well, but he ended up playing that game, so I watched from the press box. I got into the next game in Boston and was able to get a few friends to fly in from Las Vegas to watch. Unfortunately, my dad was going overseas on a job the next week and also had a big moose hunt planned so he couldn’t make it.

My first shift was with Brooks Orpik and on the second shift he got hurt, so we had to go with five defensemen for the rest of that game. I ended up making my rounds through the rotation, partnering with everyone. I think it was better to just get thrown right into it and not have too much time to think.

Now, I live in Las Vegas where I met my wife when I played for the "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas_Wranglers"Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. She was out there studying for her masters and it’s a great place to live because the weather is always nice. Even though I’m not living in Chetwynd anymore I still spend time there and am very close with my family. My dad doesn’t really give me advice anymore, but when I call home after games they always have 10-15 people at the house watching.

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