While the temperature this weekend was well into the upper 80’s, the cool air inside CONSOL Energy Center could be felt everywhere. The Hockey in July Mite Jamboree was held this past weekend, and even with the rising temperatures outside, hockey was alive and well in the midst of summer.
There were a total of 16 teams that participated in the Jamboree, and these were split into four divisions: Gent Arctic, Gent Antarctic, Chinstrap, and Emperor, all named for species of penguins (although arctic designation was included only for division purposes, since we all know that penguins are native to the southern hemisphere). The teams who attended included RMU Blue Jackets, Johnstown Warriors, Renegades Kruse, Pittsburgh Vipers (2), Altoona Trackers, Youngstown Phantoms, Frost Giants, South Pointe Rink Rats (2), RMU Ice Raiders, Pittsburgh Ice Badgers, RMU Net Raiders, Pittsburgh Aviators, SHAHA Panthers, and Mt. Lebanon Hornets.
The Gent Arctic division, which featured the RMU Blue Jackets, Johnstown Warriors, Renegades Kruse, and Pittsburgh Vipers, featured a close match up between the top two teams in the division: RMU Blue Jackets and Renegade Kruse. The Blue Jackets would go onto win all three of their round robin games, while the Kruse would win their first two games and drop their last game in a close 4-5 fashion. The two faced off in the Platinum Championship, where the #2 seed Kruse upset the #1 seed RMU Blue Jackets for the Platinum title. In the Gold Championship, the Pittsburgh Vipers won the crown, defeating the Johnstown Warriors.
Gent Antarctic, which featured the Altoona Trackers, Youngstown Phantoms, Frost Giants, and South Pointe Rink Rats, showcased another group of talented young players. In this division, defense seemed to be paramount. The top two seeds, the Youngstown Phantoms and Altoona Trackers, especially played stong defensively. Youngstown, the #1 seed, only allowed three goals in their three round robin games, including two straight shutouts. The Trackers were nearly as stingy and the two faced off in the Platinum Championship, with Youngstown defeating Altoona. In the Gold Championship, the Frost Giants won a tight game against the Rink Rats to claim the title of Gold Champions.
The RMU Ice Raiders, Pittsburgh Ice Badgers, Pittsburgh Vipers, and RMU Net Raiders made up the Chinstrap division, and were a gridlock in the standings all weekend. Both RMU teams in the division, Ice Raiders and Net Raiders, made it to the Platinum Championship game, where the Ice Raiders would pull out the decisive win. The Badgers, who defeated the Vipers, won the Gold Championship.
The final division, Emperor, featured the Mt. Lebanon Hornets, the Southpointe Rink Rats, the Pittsburgh Aviators, and SHAHA Panthers. The two dominant teams were the Aviators and Panthers, which met in the Platinum Championship game, and after an intense game, the Aviators prevailed. The South Pointe Rink Rats captured the Gold Championship game, against the Mt. Lebanon Hornets.
The Mite Jamboree made for a busy weekend for the participating teams. But cooling off in CONSOL Energy Center and the experience of playing hockey on the same ice that the Pittsburgh Penguins play their games was a huge thrill for parents and kids alike and will be remembered far longer than who beat who or what team won which game. It was definitely a fantastic experience for all who attended and participated.