By Abby (age 17)
Over the weekend, a handful of our Junior team and their families traveled to London, Ontario for a very exciting weekend. The players were: Alex Brown, Darrion Allensworth, James Humphreys, Abby McCormick, Danny Shanholtzer, Ellie Shanholtzer, Dominic Tarquinio, AJ Vazquez, and Brea Vazquez. I had midterm exams that morning so my family and I drove up Friday afternoon and unfortunately missed the first game at 4:45 p.m. against the Ohio Arctic Wolves. The rest of the team worked extremely hard and won with a final score of 6-1! Goals were made by Alex Brown, Darrion Allensworth, James Humphreys, Danny Shanholtzer, and Ellie Shanholtzer. Our second game took place on Saturday morning at 10:15 and was another huge success! We defeated the Buffalo Sabres with a score of 7-0! There was a lot of great teamwork shown during this game and a lot of great saves by our goalie AJ Vasquez and I even scored my first tournament goal! This has definitely been the highlight of my first two years playing sled hockey. The third game was against the Hamilton Sledgehammers at 4:30 p.m. We won again with the final score being 5-0. Darrion, Alex and James scored during this game. We were all ecstatic to be undefeated and make it into the Semi-Finals the next morning! It was quite a different feeling from last year when we didn’t win any games at this tournament. To celebrate our success, we all went to dinner at a restaurant called Shoeless Joe’s and had a lot of fun together. Unfortunately, we lost in the Semi-Finals to the Durham Steelhawks. It was a very close game ending with 4-3. We went home with 3rd place out of 8. Overall, we had an awesome tournament with a lot of incredible teamwork and scored a total of 21 goals throughout the weekend. Everyone played a huge part in our success throughout the weekend. We also could never do this without the help of our awesome coaches! This was definitely one of my favorite tournaments yet.
A few of our players bring you into the game action at the SPIDA Sled Hockey Tournament in Columbus, OH January 14-15. The Mighty Penguins entered two teams–first time ever (Go Black & Gold)! We continue to grow and develop our players now over 50 strong. Enjoy reading about the games through the eyes of our amazing players!
An Epic Weekend of Hockey in Columbus, Ohio
By Ekow (Age 10)
My name is Ekow, and I am on the novice team with the awesome Mighty Penguins. Last weekend, I went to a sled hockey tournament in Columbus Ohio and it was amazing! I enjoyed every moment, not only because I got to spend more time with my coaches and teammates, but also because I stayed in a fun hotel with a pool and got to eat out with my family and friends. Who doesn’t like to eat out?! This was my very first tournament away from Pittsburgh since I am new to the team this year. It was also my first time playing defense because I was goalie for the last tournament. I don’t mind being goalie, but playing defense was much more fun.
We played four games in all, against Nashville, Johnstown, Columbus and Cincinnati. We won 2 games and lost 2, but I felt our team kept getting stronger and stronger. My favorite game was the one against Nashville. They had a very strong team that made it to our side of the rink often. That meant I had lots of chances to defend our goal. It was a tough and exciting game, and the Cincinnati team played hard and fast. I really enjoyed negotiating my way through all those players, finding the puck and shooting it across the ice to the other side. Four minutes on the ice felt like 4 seconds! We ended up winning that game 2 to 1 but did not make it to the championship game.
For me, this was an epic tournament. I had the best time in Columbus and I wish I could go back every single weekend. I have started begging my parents to take me to all the remaining tournaments. Thank you to our hosts in Columbus for being so nice and welcoming, and to my coaches and teammates for making hockey such a fun experience for me. See you at the next tournament!
Fun Weekend in Columbus
By Danny (Age 9)
We just got back from a sled hockey tournament in Columbus, Ohio. It was really fun! The Mighty Penguins sent two teams. They were called Pittsburgh Black and Pittsburgh Gold. I was on the Black team.
On Friday, my dad and I drove 3 hours to get there. Our first game was on Saturday morning against the Nashville Sled Preds. They were really fast and hard-hitting. We lost, 4-1. I was disappointed to lose the game, but it made me feel a little better because I scored a goal. That was only my second goal ever in a game.
Our second game was against the Johnstown Sitting Bulls, one of our rivals. It was an exciting game. We fell behind, 1-0, but then my teammate, Phoenix, scored to tie the game. Then James, Kristofer, and Phoenix scored to put us ahead, 4-1. Johnstown scored to cut into the lead, but then I scored again to make the final 5-2.
Our third game was early on Sunday morning. It was against the Columbus Blades. They were fast and communicated well on the ice. We went ahead early in the first period, but they came back and tied it before the break. Neither team scored in the second period. It was 1-1 starting the third period. Both teams played hard, but Columbus scored and then held on to win, 2-1.
Our fourth game was versus the Cincinnati Ice Breakers. They had some big players, and their novice line was really good, but we won, 2-1. Phoenix scored both goals, and Abby had some great stops on defense, especially when Cincinnati had a power play.
It was a great tournament. We finished with 2 wins and 2 losses. So did the Gold team. Our goalie, AJ, played for both teams. He did a great job. So did all of my other teammates, including our novices: James, Owen, Nathan, Ekow, and Callie. For some of them, it was their first away tournament. I can’t wait for our next tournament!
Written By: Mighty Penguin Alex (Age 11)
On the weekend of November 12, 2016, the Junior-Novice team took part in a tournament in Wooster, Ohio. There were three other teams in the tournament: Wooster, Nashville, and Grand Rapids. On Saturday, the 12th, my dad and I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and drove two and a half hours to Wooster. We were the first people at the rink, and ready for an exciting day of hockey.
Our first game at 7:40am was against Wooster. The first two goals scored were by Wooster and it was 2-0 at the end of the second period. In the middle of the third period, Darrion Allensworth scored twice and tied the game. The game ended in a tie at 2-2. Our second game was against the Nashville Sled Preds. The first goal was scored by Nashville to make it 1-0. In the second period, I tied it up. Nashville took the lead back and it was 2-1. In the third period, Darrion scored to tie it at 2, and that was the final score. That was the end to an exciting day of hockey in Wooster.
Later, my dad and I went to the hotel to check in. We had plans to go to dinner with my grandparents and a few other players. We went to dinner and had fun with each other with stories of the games we played that day.
Early Sunday morning we had a game against the Grand Rapids Sled Wings. The game definitely was not our best work and we lost 5 to 0. We were on to the constellation game against Wooster. We took the lead early with a novice goal by Jacob Buchanan. Then Wooster tied it up in the second period to make it 1 to 1. In the third period, Darrion scored to give us the lead 2 to 1. We held on to our lead and won the game. We came in third place and were 1-1-2 through the tournament. It was a great tournament and I can’t wait for the next one!
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!”
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!
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!
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