Pittsburgh Penguins Elite players collect over 80 pairs of skates for the Mighty Penguins!

The Pittsburgh Penguins Elite youth hockey players worked together to donate over 80 pairs of new and gently used skates to the Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey team through the “Skates for the Greats” drive.  Many of the Mighty Pens athletes wear tennis shoes on the ice, but they need the protection that a skate provides. The cost of a pair of skates that will need to have the blades removed discourages many of the Mighty Pens families from purchasing skates to protect their player properly.

The partnership between the Pens Elite teams and the Mighty Penguins has been amazing to watch develop this past season. In addition to having Paralympic gold medal winner Dan McCoy speak to every team, many of the Pens Elite teams were able to hit the ice in sleds and scrimmage the Mighty Pens. By engaging with athletes who play the game only slightly differently, the Pens Elite youth hockey players had a tremendous opportunity to learn valuable life lessons like empathy, compassion and respect for those who have physical struggles to overcome.

Skates donated will be cleaned by a volunteer group of Pens Elite players who have arranged to have Pure Hockey on Neville Island remove the blades at no charge. Skates will be distributed to the Mighty Pens players in June in anticipation of their 2016-17 season!  A huge thanks to all who participated in the “Skates for the Greats” drive demonstrating that Hockey Is For Everyone!

California University’s Graduate Athletic Trainers visit Mighty Pens at Lemieux Sports Complex

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The Mighty Pens hosted California University’s Graduate Athletic Training Program students who recently hit the ice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex as part of their Athletic Healthcare for Special Populations class.  The students learned about para-athletes, specifically those playing sled hockey. The students were able to hit the ice in sleds and try out the sport for themselves.  Off-ice, they had the opportunity to speak with 2014 Team USA’s Sled Hockey gold medalist, Dan McCoy about his achievements as a Paralympic athlete.

Thank you to all of the athletic trainers as well as Dr. Shelly DiCesaro, Head Athletic Trainer & Professor at California University.  We appreciate your desire to help athletes of all abilities achieve their dreams! Hope to see you all on the ice again soon!

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Mighty Pens’ Callie Rose wins The 2016 Jennifer Kryger Memorial Team Spirit Award

“I love hockey because everyone looks at me and what I can do, not the things I can’t because of my disability.” – Callie Rose, 10 years old, recipient of The Jennifer Kryger Memorial Team Spirit Award!  We couldn’t think of a better player on our team who exemplifies a positive attitude, a beautiful laugh and a whole lot of heart!  Your Mighty Pens family is so proud of you Callie!!!

Congratulations to Callie and a huge thank you to everyone who made the 2016 Griff’s Sled Wings Hockey Classic an amazing tournament.  Looking forward to 2017!

UPMC “Just Ice It” Sled Hockey Challenge Raises $15,000!

21 Physicians, therapists and staff from UPMC Rehabilitation Institute hit the ice Saturday night to take on our Senior team in the 5th annual “Just Ice It” event! While the Mighty Pens ultimately came away with the win, the smiles and laughter from the UPMC team continued long after the game was over!

Autographed memorabilia from the Pittsburgh Penguins, fantastic auction items and a Chuck-A-Puck event during intermission were featured to help support the Mighty Penguins. Together, we raised $15,000 for the Mighty Penguins teams!

A huge thanks to our board members, Maureen and Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins, for coming out to sign autographs and running our Pittsburgh Penguins player autographed “Mystery Puck” table! Your support means so much to our players and their families!

Thank you to everyone who came out to the event and supported the Mighty Penguins! You’re helping our amazing athletes achieve their dreams! Let’s Go Pens!

Our New Home! The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex

We are pleased to call the amazing UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry our home rink! This state of the art, NHL practice facility is an exciting venue for our athletes who have the opportunity to practice and play in the same rink as our Pittsburgh Penguins!

A huge thanks goes out to the building contractor, PJ Dick, Trumbull and Lindy Paving, Inc. for their support in helping facilitate the Mighty Pens move to the new space. They did an unbelievable job helping us navigate the new building as well as ensuring that our storage facilities met the needs of our players. From pre-construction to move-in, our partnership with PJ Dick, Inc. made our move seamless! We are so grateful for all of their support!

Come out soon to check out our Mighty Pens hit the ice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex!

The Heitz 61 Memorial Foundation’s 1st Annual Sled Hockey camp!

The Heitz 61 Memorial Foundation hosted the 1st Annual Special Hockey camp, August 3-5th, at Robert Morris University for the Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey team, the Steel City Icebergs and the Pittsburgh I.C.E.   The 3-day camp offered our Mighty Pens athletes the opportunity to work on both on-ice and off-ice skill development as well as focusing on nutrition and physical fitness.

The camp was an amazing opportunity for the Mighty Pens players to build their self-esteem and develop their team building skills together.  A visit from Pittsburgh Penguins’ Iceburgh made the camp a wonderful memory for all of our players!

Thanks to Central Catholic High School’s Senior team, ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators’ Sean Berkstresser, NHL Vancouver Canuck’s Matt Bartkowski, and RMU Men’s Head Coach Derek Schooley for helping our athletes develop their on-ice skills.  Our teams had fun working with everyone while developing new skills.

A huge thanks goes to Debbie and Doug Heitzenrater who devoted their time to making this camp so special for athletes of all abilities in honor of their son, Ryan Heitzenrater.  The Heitz 61 Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, offered this free summer hockey camp in memory of Ryan Heitzenrater.  Please visit The Heitz 61 Memorial Foundation to learn more about Ryan and the Foundation’s mission to honor his legacy.

Kids’ Car Wash raises over $1400 for Mighty Pens

An inspiring group of kids from Upper St. Clair hosted the 3rd Annual Car Wash and Bake Sale to benefit the Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey teams.  Organized by 13 year-old Nathan Piatt and his friends, these kids worked together to create posters to market the event, organize the supplies and bake delicious treats for the bake sale.

On the day of the event, they took turns washing cars, promoting the car wash on the street and selling their baked goods.  Their hard work paid off and they raised over $1400 for our amazing athletes!  These kids demonstrated what it’s all about – Kids Helping Kids!

A huge thanks to all of these kids for being such great friends to our Mighty Pens!

Two Mighty Pens Teams Bring Home 2015 National Titles!

For the first time in club history, the Pittsburgh Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey Club captured two National Championship titles at the 11th annual USA Disabled Hockey Festival in Buffalo, NY

Bringing home their first National Championship title, the Mighty Pens Youth B Team earned their spot in the championship game with a 3-1 record and avenged their only tournament loss with a 5-0 win against the Colorado Little Avalanche in the Finals.

The Mighty Penguins Senior Adult team participated in the Adult A Division and clinched their first National title with a 7-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets!

Congrats to all our Mighty Pens athletes and coaches who have worked so hard this season!

The Mighty Pens get new sled-accessible dasher boards thanks to ATI and The Pittsburgh Penguins

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins and ATI donated funds to install sled-accessible dashboards in 2 local Pittsburgh rinks to support our Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey teams.  The boards were installed at RMU Island Sports Center and our home rink, BladeRunners Ice Complex in Harmarville.

Sled-accessible boards give our Mighty Pens athletes an opportunity to compete and utilize the playing surface like able-bodied players.  The boards provide an easier on and off transition for players to utilize the benches and the penalty boxes.  Without the sled-accesbile dashers and benches, sled hockey teams must line up along the boards on the ice during games.   This creates a delay in play when pucks enter player “benches” on-ice as well as a potentially unsafe situation for all players.

The sled-accessible dashers in Pittsburgh are some of the very first to be installed in North America.  The Penguins and ATI have given our Mighty Pens an amazing opportunity to train and compete on the same level as Team USA’s National Sled Hockey Paralympic gold medalists.  We are proud to have state-of-the art facilities in Pittsburgh just like the sled hockey pros!  The Pittsburgh Penguins have once again demonstrated their commitment to providing the best opportunities for athletes of all abilities to excel.

A huge thanks from our amazing Mighty Pens athletes to ATI and the Pittsburgh Penguins for supporting our dreams!  Hockey Is For Everyone!

NHL Players Surprise Sled Hockey Players in Gatorade feature!

This amazing video took the internet by storm this week showing NHL players like Pittsburgh’s own Sidney Crosby hitting the ice in sleds to surprise a group of young sled hockey players in Canada.  The Cruisers sledge hockey team thought they’d volunteered for a documentary about the sport but what they didn’t know was that they were about to be joined by some of the NHL’s biggest stars for one unforgettable game.

The game of sled hockey, or sledge hockey as it is known everywhere outside of the United States, has grown in prominence over the years and it gives more people with physical disabilities an opportunity to play the game we all love.  The upper-body strength and balance of sled hockey athletes is huge and takes a tremendous amount of determination and effort which a few NHL stars had the opportunity to discover firsthand!  The videos included point of views from both sled hockey players and NHL stars, offering an exciting insight into our sport.

Working with children and adults in our Mighty Penguins sled hockey program, we see the determination it takes for our athletes to overcome physical disabilities every time they hit the ice.  Seeing them succeed and watching their love of the game grow every time they hit the ice is inspiring to all of us who work so hard to make their dreams a reality when they hit the ice!  To watch extremely talented NHL players experience first hand how difficult it is to play sled hockey and to witness them gain an appreciation for athletes of all abilities is tremendous for all involved in the sport of sled hockey.

Thanks to Gatorade, the NHL and all of the NHL stars who put our amazing sport in the limelight this week. Your support of sled hockey athletes will provide programs around the world with countless opportunities and avenues for growth.  Thank you for sharing your love of the game with athletes of every ability!  Hockey truly Is For Everyone!

“A day at the rink should be enjoyed by everybody.  Hockey is hockey and it’s great everyone can play in all the different ways we play this sport” – Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

“Just seeing the poise and the character and the mental strength, they’re really an inspiration for all of us. So, I think, their passion for hockey is something we all share, no matter what our situation or where we come from” – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins