Sacred Heart alumni makes NHL debut with Pittsburgh Penguins

A former Sacred Heart University men’s ice hockey captain was called up last week to the big show.

Tom Krosnowski and Robyn Karashik

Dec 10, 2023, 5:59 PM

Updated 164 days ago


A former Sacred Heart University men’s ice hockey captain was called up last week to the big show.
Marc Johnstone, 27, of Cranford, New Jersey, played college hockey at SHU in Fairfield for four years. He served as captain for two of those years.
After spending time in the minors, he got the opportunity to make a start with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Johnstone made his NHL debut on Friday during their game against the Florida Panthers. For Johnstone, years of hard work led up to that moment.
“I walked out there with the biggest smile on my face,” said Johnstone. “It's just been a dream since I picked up my first hockey stick.”
Johnstone's NHL dreams have taken him all over – from Chicago to Charleston, Newfoundland to Toronto and Scranton, across several leagues – but he never gave up.
“You might have twists and turns, ups and downs. I know I have,” said Johnstone. “Just stick with it. Anything's possible as long as you keep going.”
Johnstone says his time in Fairfield prepared him for the journey ahead.
“They trusted me a lot, right from when I stepped foot on campus,” said Johnstone. “They gave me a lot of responsibilities, on and off the ice, to lead.”
“He could galvanize the group by just getting up on the bench in the locker room and [saying] what needed to be done,” said C. J. Marottolo, head coach of the SHU men’s ice hockey team.
Johnstone got to share his NHL debut with his parents who were flown down to Florida by the Penguins.
“They were crying. They were almost happier than me. I mean, they've been through the whole journey with me and seen how much I've wanted it,” said Johnstone. “Through the lows, I've always been able to go to them. It's just been a special time for our whole family.”
He’s just the second player from SHU to make it to the NHL, alongside 2016 graduate Justin Danforth who currently plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets – both alums bringing Pioneer pride to the big leagues.
“I’m just proud to represent Sacred Heart,” said Johnstone.
“There's a lot of people watching him – not only within our hockey program – he brings a lot of pride to our university,” said Marottolo.
The Penguins’ next game is Tuesday night, marking his home debut.

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