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Local Little Pen sets record for USA Hockey

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It seems fitting that USA Hockey set a record for program participation during Hockey Week across America.

And the player that put USA Hockey over the top hails from Pittsburgh, Pa. 

Cora Dwyer, 7, became the 107,723rd 8-and-Under player to join USA Hockey in 2016-17 to set a record for player participation.

The Pens reached out to Cora, who plays with her younger brother Neil, and her family and they will be attending Sunday's afternoon contest against Detroit at PPG Paints Arena as special guests of the team.

"They can't believe it. They're definitely Pens fans," the children's father, Mike, said.

"We watch the first period and then the kids go to bed. I can hear the door open and know it's Cora sneaking down to watch more of the game."

Cora, who was born during the Pens' 2009 Stanley Cup run, and Neil were introduced to the game through USA Hockey's Try Hockey for Free Day and then registered with Sidney Crosby's Little Pens Learn to Play program initiative.

"I took the kids and fit them into my smallest jerseys from way back when and they had a blast," Mike said of the Try Hockey for Free Day. "Luckily they both got into the same rink (for Little Pens) and it's been fantastic."

The hardest part about participating in hockey for any family is the price of equipment. But Crosby's Little Pens program provides free gear to all the kids in the program.

"The equipment hurdle is a big one for people to make," Mike said. "The idea that a program would outfit the kids with skates through helmets, sticks, is incredibly generous and really, really neat."

Cora and Neil play together in a program in Harmar and will likely be lifelong hockey and Pens fans.

"Hockey is one of those sports that you pick up the love and it stays with you," Mike said. "We've had them on skates since they were 3, pushing around the skater-helper. They love to be out there. They're really excited about it."

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