Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/30/12
ST. LOUIS, Mo. On Saturday night the southern Manitoba-based Pembina Valley Hawks won the 2012 Esso Cup, Canada's National Female Midget Championship. It was the mens' midget A team of the same hockey program that in the mid-1990's cut Dustin Penner at a tryout, one of several junior and college programs that said 'thanks, but no thanks' to an eventual Stanley Cup winner whose production has helped lead the Kings to a 5-1 playoff record and a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. "I remember my mom driving me and my dad driving me to those tryout camps, and always being the first cut. I don't hold a grudge against them. This has all worked out. It just gave me the perseverance and determination to get here," Penner said. It has certainly worked well for the Kings in the postseason. Reversing a first period effort described by Darryl Sutter on Sunday as being "probably fortunate to be out of it 1-0 seven or eight minutes in," Penner abruptly shifted the momentum of the game by bringing the puck deep into the left corner before patiently weighing his options and offering a pass to a pinching Slava Voynov, who snapped a one-timer past Brian Elliott to tie the game at one. Los Angeles prevailed 3-1, with Penner adding an empty-netter late in the third period. "Our left wing, the left side and the lack of experience there, he's the logical guy," Sutter said about Penner. It's not so much his production, it's just being able to match up the way they do. They want to play Backes against Kopi, and we're fine with that if they want to continue to do that. So that means that Richie's going to get Berglund. There are some pretty good players McDonald and Steen on the wings, guys with experience, guys that play a 200-foot game so that's Dustin's challenge." It's just one challenge among many faced by the former Minot State Bottineau power forward who was eventually recognized at a prospects camp in Saskatoon by former University of Maine assistant coach and chief recruiter Grant Standbrook. After traveling to Orono, Maine to take a look at the university the first time he had ever been on a plane he was offered a scholarship. "I had no idea of its history, or who had played there," Penner recalled. He redshirted in 2002-03, and in 2003-04 produced a breakthrough season that culminated with the game-winning goal early in the third period of the national semi-final game against Boston College. Though the Black Bears lost 1-0 to Denver University in the championship game despite a six-on-three advantage for over a minute at the end of the third period, it was an unsung campaign that saw him finish the year on the NCAA's All-Tournament Team. Penner signed with the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim shortly thereafter, made his NHL debut a year and a half later and won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, roughly six years after his emergence from an obscure hockey player in southern Manitoba looking for an NCAA scholarship. Entering Game 2 against St. Louis, he has 23 points in 46 career postseason games. The feel-good nature of Penner's rise to the NHL sputtered out not long after he left Anaheim. Signed to a controversial five-year, 21.25 million dollar offer sheet by Edmonton as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2007, his point total rose with the Oilers his first year before falling starkly in the 2008-09 season. In November, 2008, then-Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish ripped into his lumbering forward for a perceived lack of competitiveness. "We thought the contract was a starting point for him, but he views it as a finish line," MacTavish said, as reported by the Edmonton Journal. That contract expires at the end of the season, and judging by what he's provided in the first handful of postseason games under Sutter, there are still plenty of ways he can help this Kings team in the playoffs. His goals have come at opportune times. Other than the bank shot empty netter off the side boards against St. Louis which he likened to curling his late third period goal against Vancouver in Game 1 of the first round at this point looks to be one of the more important goals Los Angeles will score this postseason. Combined with the momentum-shifting first period assist on Voynov's goal Saturday night, Penner's postseason production is outweighing his regular season contributions. While it could provide a boost for his negotiations when free agency strikes this summer, that's not really his greatest concern right now. Nor is the path-less-traveled route he took to the NHL, though it's still in the back of his mind. "The older I get, the more I can look back and fully understand," Penner said. "But when you're in that moment, and you have that belief as a player and a person that 'I should be higher up than where I am' and that's not a knock against any of the places I played it's just not the typical route that you use to get to the NHL. It was trial by fire, and I had to learn quickly." Dustin Penner joined Twitter on Sunday and already has over 12,000 followers. You can find him at @Dustinpenner25
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pierre-Paul won't need to wear club on hand this season

Report: Four cities remain in contention to host 2017 NBA ASG

Doc Rivers: Clippers have plan to let Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic

Another young 49er, Kaleb Ramsey, retires from NFL

Saints GM: Drew Brees’ contract situation is not a ‘distraction’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tim Tebow: ‘I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in’

Olympic athletes warned about Rio's 'human crap' waters

T.J. Ward: Broncos defense doesn’t care who’s playing QB

Tokyo already dealing with rising costs for 2020 Olympics

Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd carted off practice field

Report: Bills and Tyrod Taylor continue to talk extension

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

Cam Talbot thinks the Oilers are close to making the playoffs

The new era of WWE SmackDown has liftoff

Vlade Divac: Cousins ‘most dominant player in the world’

Wild offer to make Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' new goal song

Canucks don't dismiss acquiring player with past issues

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ordered to pay $900K to auction house

Six potential landing spots for Nick Foles

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker