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Penguins' Effect on Youth Hockey Reaches Beyond Pennsylvania

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Maddie Ward is a 16-year-old girl who resides in Richmond, Virginia. Since she plays hockey for the Junior Hurricanes, an under-16 girls hockey team that’s based in Raleigh, N.C, Ward has to drive three hours one way to play the sport she loves.

It takes a dedication and commitment to the game to go to such lengths to play it, and Ward’s passion for hockey began when she watched the Penguins on TV with her dad growing up, as her parents, Matt and Allison Ward, are Bethel Park High School alumni.  Maddie’s interest was piqued by watching the Penguins, causing her to ask her father more about the games and eventually leading her to join the Richmond Royals girls hockey team (which eventually disbanded, leading her to join the Junior Hurricanes).

Ward’s hockey roots came full circle on Thursday, as she scored the game-winning goal against Pittsburgh’s Steel City Selects in their second game of pool play at the Tier II girls U16 USA Hockey Nationals in Anaheim, Calif., evening the Junior Hurricanes’ record to 1-1 in their second game of the tournament.

To top it off, Eric Widas, the Junior Hurricanes coach, won the prestigious “Riley Cup” while participating in the Pittsburgh Penguins Fantasy Camp in 2002.
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