There are junior hockey teams in outposts across Canada and in parts of the United States. Moose Jaw to Moncton, Red Deer to Regina, Portland to Peterborough.
Tristan Jarry, a goaltender who was the Penguins' first pick in the 2013 draft, is lucky. He plays junior hockey in an NHL City. Even in an NHL arena.
At 18, Jarry's pro career is not right around the corner. He expects to spend a third season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League in 2013-14.
"It's great," Jarry, who is attending Penguins development camp at Consol Energy Center, said Wednesday. "We get to see what it's like to be at the next level."
The Oil Kings share Rexall Place with the Edmonton Oilers. Jarry said veteran Oilers winger Ryan Smyth often visits the Oil Kings' dressing room.
"They're usually on the ice an hour before us," Jarry said of the Oilers, "so a lot of the guys come in pretty early and get a good watch on them. Most of our guys are drafted by the Oilers, so it's great that they can watch practice, but it's great for all of us to watch."
Jarry isn't disappointed he wasn't selected by the Oilers. He called Pittsburgh "a great development city for me," and on his first visit here enjoys the fact that the hills and trees of Western Pennsylvania remind him some of his hometown, Vancouver.
Growing up there, Jarry became a hockey fan at a young age and played but wasn't always a goalie in pickup games.
"We had a rotation back home," he said. "Every once in while, I would go in net, and I really enjoyed it. I guess I stuck with it."
The Penguins did not have a first- or second-round draft pick this year before trading Tyler Kennedy's rights to San Jose to acquire a second-round pick, 44th overall. They used that to claim Jarry.
Jarry is 6 feet 1, 183 pounds. He was 18-7-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and six shutouts in 27 games with the Oil Kings this past season. Various scouting reports list his strengths as his glove hand, side-to-side movement, puck-handling and athleticism.
Which doesn't leave a lot of room for weaknesses.
"I think I can improve on everything," he said. "I can't really say I have too many weaknesses or too many strengths. I like to work on everything. I'd rather everything be equal."
Jarry is getting a lot out of development camp, which has been divided into two practice groups. After a fairly standard 45-minute practice Tuesday with basic drills, the hour-long session Wednesday included drills for skaters that did not involve the goalies, so during one session Jarry and Eric Hartzell got several minutes of individual instruction from Penguins goaltending development coach Mike Bales.
Jarry said he was still figuring things out Tuesday.
"[Wednesday was] a whole different experience," he said. "You're ready to go and working as hard as you can, so it's a great experience."
There have been several goaltending prospects in the Penguins organization who appeared to be close to becoming Marc-Andre Fleury's full-time backup, but none have stuck or panned out. They include names such as John Curry, Alex Pechurskiy, David Brown, Chad Johnson, Patrick Killeen and, most recently, Brad Thiessen, who became a free agent and this week signed with a club in Finland.
Jarry and Hartzell are part of a next wave that also includes Jeff Zatkoff and 2012 draft picks Matt Murray (third round) and Sean Maguire (fourth round). Hartzell technically is a restricted free agent, although it's believed that signing him is mostly a formality. He stands a good chance to join Zatkoff in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League in the fall. Murray and Maguire are in development camp.
Jarry gained some notoriety at this camp for an anecdote passed along by assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, one of the camp's lead organizers. According to Fitzgerald, Jarry was so wide-eyed over his first day Tuesday that he asked general manager Ray Shero if they use smaller pucks at this level. Asked Wednesday whether he was joking or was taken aback by the step up in play, Jarry's jaw dropped. He swore he never said any such thing to Shero and didn't know anything about it.
Jarry previously did not know anyone in the Penguins organization or any of his fellow Penguins prospects at the camp. And while he recognized the names of a couple of Western Hockey League players, there are none he has a history with or bragging rights on.
"Not really so far, but there will be now," Jarry said, grinning.
• What: Development camp scrimmage among Penguins prospects.
• When: 3 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Consol Energy Center.
• Of note: The scrimmage is open to the public. Admission and parking are free.
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: email@example.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published July 18, 2013 4:00 AM