The “Pittsburgh Penguins Elite” program presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is quickly becoming the premiere AAA hockey program in the area, will feature 14 teams – nine boys teams and five girls teams.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Elite teams will compete in the Tier I Elite Hockey League that includes the Philadelphia Junior Flyers, the Buffalo Junior Sabres, the DC Capitals, the Dallas AAA Stars, the Phoenix Junior Coyotes and the Los Angeles Junior Kings, among others.
The Elite programs, both boys and girls, are finding tremendous success on the ice as the U18 boys and U14 girls were Tier 1 Elite League Champions this past year. The U14 girls were also bronze medalists at the USA Hockey National Championships. The National Championships also featured all three eligible boys teams (Midget Major, U14, U16) reaching quarterfinals.
“Our goal is to make Pittsburgh Penguins Elite the best AAA hockey program in the country,” said David Morehouse, CEO and President of the Pittsburgh Penguins. “But it isn’t just about winning games and championships. It’s about giving these young players the opportunity to test themselves against the best competition while learning important life lessons about sportsmanship, teamwork, dedication and discipline. Our partners at Dick’s Sporting Goods make this all possible, along with the commitment of an outstanding group of coaches and parents. We look forward to another successful season for Penguins Elite, both on and off the ice.”
The Penguins Elite also host annually the Icebreaker Tournament during Labor Day weekend, and the Pittsburgh Girls Thanksgiving Classic, which is one of the largest girls’ tournaments in the US.
“Dick’s Sporting Goods is thrilled to be the title sponsor of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program. At Dick’s we are passionate about youth sports and committed to helping young athletes achieve their goals of playing at the highest level,” said Lauren Hobart, Dick’s Sporting Goods Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Our involvement with the Penguins Elite program is a great opportunity for us to help athletes in our hometown of Pittsburgh, and we look forward to seeing the team come together and thrive.”
A tribute to the program’s success has been the players who have moved on to play college hockey across the country. The program has graduated eight girls to NCAA Division-III schools and two girls to Division-I (Syracuse, Boston College) this past year, totaling 13 girls currently playing Division-I college hockey. On the boys side, several Division-I commitments have occurred over the past 12 months, including Dartmouth, Ohio State and Miami (Ohio). The Elite boys programs have 47 former players currently competing in either college or junior programs.
The boys teams practice and play home games at RMU Island Sports Center. The girls teams will practice and play home games at both RMU Island Sports Center and Shadyside Academy. Both boys and girls also hold practices and games at the CONSOL Energy Center.