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!”
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!
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 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!
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