Friday marked the start of the third annual PPE Icebreaker Tournament presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. The tournament, hosted by the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite AAA hockey organization, will showcase some of the top amateur hockey players in North America.
This year’s tournament will be held at CONSOL Energy Center as well as Robert Morris University’s Island Sports Center and will host 26 teams from 14 organizations across five age divisions. The divisions include four boys’ groupings (2001, ’02, ’03, ’04 birth years) and one U12 girls grouping.
Other than the Pens Elite, the Washington Little Caps will be the only team from past Icebreaker Tournaments competing again this year. New organizations include two clubs from Chicago, the Mission and Fury, as well as two from Cleveland, the Barons and Jr. Jacks. Other participants include the Rochester Monarchs, Mid Fairfield, Detroit Honeybaked, Team Comcast, Team Maryland, the Dallas Stars, the Scarborough Sharks and the Pittsburgh Stealth.
Penguins alum Mark Recchi and Bill Guerin are in attendance for the tournament this weekend and will help coach the 2001 Pens Elite team.
Recchi, the Penguins current Player Development coach, stated that he was proud of what the Penguins have been able to accomplish with their youth organization.
“What the Penguins give back to the city of Pittsburgh and how they want to do the right things for the youth and hockey here is important,” Recchi said. “Giving these kids every opportunity to develop like they have and get proper coaching and proper development has been an outstanding job.”
Guerin talked about how special an event like this is for the players of the Pens Elite is.
“I think for them to be able to wear the logo and for them to be able to play on Pens home ice is a big deal for them,” Guerin said. “They have the backing of an NHL team, and Dicks Sporting Goods and the support that the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite gets is incredible.”
Recchi also believes this tournament will get his team off to a good start for this season.
“It’s our first one of the year and it’s getting us good preparation. It gets us off on the right foot for the start of the year,” he said.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Elite are a Tier 1 Elite program, which develops and provides kids with player development and awarding opportunities on and off the ice.