Mighty Penguins proudly hosted USA Hockey’s National Sled Team’s training camp weekend at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Our very own Dan McCoy hit the ice with the team, which included many of the players who won the gold medal in the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Our Mighty Penguins players enjoyed the opportunity to see their sled hockey heroes take the ice in our hometown. It was inspiring for them to see firsthand what they can achieve one day with hard work and dedication to their sport. Thanks to the National Sled Team coaches, staff and athletes for inspiring our Mighty Pens!
Special thanks to Pittsburgh Penguins skating coaches Ty Hennes and Matt Herr for working with the team over the weekend and sharing your knowledge and passion for the game. Hockey Is For Everyone!
The Mighty Penguins proudly hosted the 1st Annual “Sled Face-Off Challenge” at our home rink, UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex this past weekend. 11 teams from across the country participated in 3 youth and adult divisions including Novice, Junior and Intermediate. Competition was fierce and exciting, but most importantly, all of these amazing sled hockey athletes had fun!
A visit from Lord Stanley on Sunday morning made the weekend complete for players and their families. Seeing our littlest athletes get a surprise on-ice visit from the Stanley Cup was priceless. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins & UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, our amazing athletes and hockey fanatics have a memory that will last a lifetime!
A huge thanks to all of our amazing volunteers who selflessly gave of their time this weekend. Our partnership with 2 local youth hockey organizations has been tremendous and the on-ice help from the Central Catholic Vikings and Pittsburgh Penguins Elite was invaluable. We’re not sure who had more more fun, the youth volunteers or the kids!
Thank you to all of our sponsors who partnered with us to make this tournament a huge success! Your continued support of our Mighty Penguins program is helping these athletes achieve their dreams! Thank you to the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, DICK’s Sporting Goods, Federated Investors, Fat Heads Saloon, 84 Lumber, UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, Mobility Sports, Langer Material Handling, Olesnevich Fabricating, Tri-State Development & Design, Riggs Communication, Finn Chiropractic and Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania. Together, we created a fun, challenging and exciting competition for sled hockey athletes from across the country and showcased here in Pittsburgh that “Hockey is For Everyone!”
Congratulations to the winners of each division:
Novice Division: Northwest Ohio Arctic Wolves
Junior Divison: Grand Rapids Sled Wings
Intermediate Division: Texas Blades
Looking forward to seeing everyone on the ice next fall for the 2nd Annual “Sled Face-Off Challenge!”
These are the stories we love to share! Andrew Rich, a 7th grader in the Fox Chapel school district, organized a fundraiser game to benefit the Mighty Penguins for his Bar Mitzvah project. Andrew and 10 of his friends hit the ice to play our Mighty Penguins Junior team. On hand to help Andrew’s team was Paralympic Gold Medalist Dan McCoy.
The boys learned a lot about sled hockey and got a chance to experience first hand how much hard work and dedication it takes for athletes to play the game. An appreciation for the adversity our athletes overcome to play the game we all love, was a valuable lesson for all of the boys.
Dan McCoy graciously spoke to the kids about his Paralympic experiences and shared his gold medal! Getting to wear an Olympic gold medal was a highlight of the day for these kids.
In addition to organizing the on-ice game, Andrew raised over $3000 for the Mighty Penguins team by asking friends and families to donate to the cause in lieu of Bar Mitzvah gifts!
Thank you Andrew for coming out to support our amazing athletes and hitting the ice with your friends! You are an amazing role model for other kids and we can’t wait to see you back on the ice soon!
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!
“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!
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!
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.
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!
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