The Pittsburgh Penguins organization is committed to the expansion of youth hockey in Western Pennsylvania, and they’ve helped membership in the region grow by 4,395 players – a 50.7 percent increase – in an eight-year span from 2005-13, according to USA Hockey.
And the Penguins want those kids playing hockey in the area to thrive and be as competitive as possible – and have done everything they can to give them opportunities to do so. This weekend, they will have a big one as the Penguins, Penguins Elite youth hockey program and the National Hockey League (NHL) will host the inaugural NHL Youth Cup from Nov. 1-3.
The event, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, will feature AAA youth programs affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.
It promises to feature some of the premiere talent playing at the AAA level, and should be the start of a fantastic tradition for NHL-affiliated hockey programs across North America that will continue to grow from year to year.
“We think it’s a great opportunity for young players in all six age groups to play in an elite-level tournament with other NHL-affiliated programs so early in the season,” said David Morehouse, CEO and President of the Pittsburgh Penguins. “The Penguins Elite program, with generous support from the NHL, is proud to host three age groups and welcome them to Pittsburgh.”
There will be 32 total teams playing this weekend. Pittsburgh will host the 1999, 2001 and 2003 age groups while Philadelphia will host the 2000, 2002 and 2004 age groups. Pittsburgh will have games at three area rinks including the Pittsburgh Ice Arena (New Kensington), BladeRunners-Harmarville and Shadyside Academy. On the other side of the state, Philadelphia will host games at the Flyers Skate Zone – Voorhees and Pennsauken.
The tournament will also feature some notable coaches and participants with NHL bloodlines, whose teams will all be here in Pittsburgh this weekend. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma’s son Bryan plays on the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 1999 team, former Penguin Mark Recchi is an assistant coach with the 2001 team and Morehouse’s son plays on the 2003 team.
Some of the other coaches include:
• Derian Hatcher (Head Coach of the Team Comcast 1999 Team)
• Tony Voce (Head Coach of the Team Comcast 2001 Team)
• Brent Thompson (Assistant Coach of the Suffolk PAL Islanders 1999 Team)
• Jeff Christian (Head Coach of the Ohio Blue Jackets 2002 Team)
Other participants with family ties in the NHL include:
• Derian Hatcher (son plays on Team Comcast 1999 Team)
• Kjell Samuelsson (son plays on Team Comcast 1999 Team)
• Brian Boucher (son plays for Team Comcast 2002 Team)
• Daniel Alfredsson (son plays on the Little Caesars 2003 Team)
• Daniel Briere (has two sons playing for Team Comcast – 1999/2001)
• Bobby Clarke (grandson plays on Team Comcast 1999 Team
• Chris Ilitch (son plays on the Little Caesars 2003 Team)
All of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite teams participating in the NHL Youth Cup are some of the top-ranked in the country for AAA Tier I amateur programs.
- ’04 team is currently 8th in the country
- ’03 team is 10th in the country
- ’02 team is 10th in the country
- ’01 team is 13th in the country
- ’00 team is 29th in the country
- ’99 team is 26th in the country
The NHL Youth Cup has been sanctioned by USA Hockey and will abide by its tournament and game rules and regulations. Each team is guaranteed to play a minimum of five games with a playoff structure that will feature championship games on Sunday, Nov. 3. The champions will be awarded with a trophy.
Scheduling for some of the games here in Pittsburgh include:
’03 age group:
• Semifinals – Sunday, November 3rd. 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. at Harmarville
• Consolation game – Sunday, November 3rd. 9:30 a.m. at Harmarville
• Finals – Sunday, November 3rd. 11:15 a.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
• 3rd Place Game – Sunday, November 3rd. 11:00 a.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
’01 age group:
• Semifinals – Sunday, November 3rd. 7:00 and 7:15 a.m at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
• Consolation game – Sunday, November 3rd. 9:00 a.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
• Finals – Sunday, November 3rd. 11:00 a.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
• 3rd Place game – Sunday, November 3rd. 1:15 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
’99 age group:
• Playoff (2nd vs. 3rd) – Sunday, November 3rd. 9:00 a.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
• Consolation game – Sunday, November 3rd. 9:15 a.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
• Finals – Sunday, November 3rd. 1:00 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice Arena
For more information on the NHL Youth Cup, please visit http://www.nhlyouthcup.com