William Aston-Reese grew up in Pittsburgh, so imagine his delight when his son, Zach, signed as a free agent with the Penguins on March 14, 2017.
The only thing that could top that would be if Zach got to lift the Stanley Cup in June.
A lot went into Zach’s long journey to the NHL, and his father played a big part in it.
"He was always there for me," Zach recalled at PPG Paints Arena prior to playing in his first postseason game against the Flyers on April 11. "Especially when I had to switch to travel hockey. Both my parents (including his mom, Carolyn), I’ve told them so many times, I can’t thank them enough.
"You look at guys who are good hockey players when you’re Bantam or Midget, then in that transition period it can affect families. I was just really fortunate to have a good set-up."
Zach was born on Staten Island and spent his very early years there. But since that New York City borough had only two hockey rinks and a very limited development opportunity, it was off to New Jersey, first to play for the Colonials and later the Rockets.
It’s a route more and more kids are taking to college and possibly the NHL.