Local athlete celebrates his second straight Stanley Cup victory

By: Timothy Pontzer | C&G Newspapers | Published August 24, 2017

 Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust lifts the Stanley Cup following a 2-0 victory over Nashville June 11. It marked the second straight year that the local athlete and the Penguins captured the NHL championship.

Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust lifts the Stanley Cup following a 2-0 victory over Nashville June 11. It marked the second straight year that the local athlete and the Penguins captured the NHL championship.

Photo provided by the Pittsburgh Penguins

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Growing up, most hockey players dream of raising the Stanley Cup. An extremely hard task, only a select few get the reward of having their name chiseled on the sport’s holy grail. Even fewer have it etched on the prestigious trophy multiple times, especially before the age of 30.

Only 25, Bryan Rust finds himself in that lucky group. A native of Troy, Rust has played a crucial role for the Pittsburgh Penguins winning back-to-back championships.

“It’s something that I’m extremely thankful about,” Rust said. “I’m very fortunate to be on a team with such good players and be able to win. You look back on all of this and realize how it is a dream come true, and something that you really couldn’t have imagined only a couple years ago.”

Born in Pontiac, Rust lived in Troy before moving to Bloomfield Hills while in middle school. At the age of 17, he and his family moved to Novi. Rust attended Birmingham Brother Rice for his freshman and sophomore years before attending Ann Arbor Pioneer for the remainder of his prep career to play for the United States Hockey National Team Development Program.

Growing up, Rust played for the Honeybaked Hockey Club, citing coach Larry Knapp as a large reason for his success. Rust said that teammates from Honeybaked, classmates from Brother Rice, local friends and plenty of family members offered well wishes and cheered him on during the last two Penguins playoff runs.

“I love the area; I still consider it home,” Rust said. “I still have a lot of friends there that have given me plenty of support. A few of my buddies from Brother Rice came out to some games and came to my (Stanley Cup) party. It’s extremely special to share that with them, with people that have been a part of my life for so long.”

A unique tradition in hockey offers each member of the reigning champion organization their own “day with the Cup,” allowing them to take the trophy wherever they want on the globe. 

Last year, Rust brought the chalice back to Michigan and played a round of golf with it. This time around, he rented a yacht in Lake St. Clair and then hosted a party Aug. 13 at Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield.

“It was great; I enjoyed a nice day with friends and family,” Rust said. “You dream of winning the Cup, (but) not a lot of guys can say they did it. Once you do, you want to enjoy it with all the people that helped you get there.”

A 2010 third-round pick out of the University of Notre Dame, Rust debuted with the Penguins in late 2014. After earning a spot on Pittsburgh’s third line the following season, Rust worked his way to playing alongside superstar Evgeni Malkin on the second line. A quick skater at right wing, Rust also has logged minutes on the power play, sharing shifts with future Hall of Famer Sidney Crosby.

“At first, it was easy to be a little starstruck when I was called up,” Rust said. “But I knew that I got there for a reason and the Penguins staff and management believed in me. As time went on, I realized that if I stick with the things that made me successful coming up that I could help the team win too.”

Rust has certainly helped the Penguins win, becoming a fan favorite in Pittsburgh due to his knack for scoring game-winning goals. In 46 career playoff games, he has notched 13 goals and five assists. 

In the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, he scored both goals in a 2-1 Penguins victory in Game 7. That win sent the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals, capping off a postseason that saw him score a club-record six goals as a rookie. He topped that with seven goals in the 2017 playoffs, including a game-winner over Columbus in the first round and a crucial goal in Game 5 of the finals against Nashville.

Rust takes pride in his clutch play, happy he is able to produce when it counts.

“I’m obviously extremely proud that I’ve been able to rise to the occasion,” Rust said. “I have to give a lot of credit to the guys that I’m playing with. But I also pride myself in being ready for those big occasions, being ready for the pressure.”

With two championship rings to his name and the majority of his career still before him, Rust is looking forward to the future, hoping to be in the position to score when it matters most.

“Again, you always dream about this, and thankfully it has been a reality for me already,” Rust said. “Being able to lift the Cup twice is definitely something I didn’t expect already, but I’m always working to do it again.”

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