The Penguins organization has created a vast array of youth hockey initiatives to engage children of all ages. Programs run the gamut of providing instruction to develop basic skills, teaching safety and good nutrition, encouraging teamwork, enhancing the athletes’ knowledge of the game, and acknowledging their accomplishments.
Little Penguins Learn to Play
The Little Penguins Learn to Play program provides free head-to-toe equipment and low cost on-ice programming to youth in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The program is offered in Fall, Winter and Spring sessions and some locations have hosted girls-only classes in addition to their co-ed class classes. Each year, 100 random participants are selected to receive a “Golden Ticket” which grants them a special Little Penguins Lean to Play session that is attended by Sidney Crosby and other Penguins players.
Learn to Play Dek
The Learn to Play Dek program was a new youth hockey initiative for the 2017.18 season with assistance given by the NHL industry Growth Fund and Penguins Foundation. By providing free head-to-toe dek equipment and low cost dek programming to youth in Western Pennsylvania, the program will equip 1,000 participants in 2018.19.
Try Hockey For Free
In conjunction with USA Hockey’s “Hockey Weekend Across America”, Try Hockey for Free provides 25 participating rinks in Western Pennsylvania with 50 sets of full on-ice hockey equipment to run the program at their location. Each rink is required to host 4 Try Hockey for Free events each year. All rinks hold their events on the same dates.
Project Power Play
Project Power Play takes advantage of the growing popularity of hockey in the tri-state area by affording young players access to newly constructed, outdoor, multi-use athletic facilities in partnership with Highmark. Thanks to over $2.3 million generated, 14 new dek rinks have been created and more than 4,000 new players have been introduced to the sport of dek hockey through local programming at each location.
YMCA Junior Penguins
Developed exclusively for YMCA members, the YMCA Junior Penguins is a beginning and intermediate street hockey program for youth in the Pittsburgh region. The YMCA Junior Penguins program is a long-standing youth initiative of the Penguins organization, created as a way to introduce the great sport of hockey to new participants, teach fundamental skills and promote the value of exercise.
Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
Pittsburgh Penguins Elite is Western Pennsylvania’s premier AAA amateur hockey organization. Notable alumni include Brandon Saad (Chicago Blackhawks), JT Miller (Tampa Bay Lightning), Vincent Trocheck (Florida Panthers) and John Gibson (Anaheim Ducks). In 2018, 2 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite players were selected in the OHL Draft, 7 were selected in the USHL Draft, 4 received tenders from the NAHL and 9 committed to a NCAA Division I school. During the 2017.18 season, a total of 21 girls in the program have committed to a NCAA Division I or III college. To learn more, visit pittsburghpenguinselite.com.
Penguins Cup Playoffs
The Penguins sponsor and host the annual Penguins Cup high school championship tournament at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. The AAA, AA, and A classifications compete in the Penguins Cup playoffs. The winners in each classification face the winners of the Flyers Cup with the Pennsylvania Cup going to the winner.
PIHL High School Players of the Month
For 24 seasons, the Pittsburgh Penguins have honored high school hockey players from the PIHL with Player of the Month awards which includes recognition during a Penguins game. There are four recipients per month with each winner receiving four tickets to the game.
Hockey Sticks Together
The Hockey Sticks Together Foundation provides leadership, strategic direction, fund development and organizational resource support to non-profit special needs, inner-city and military veterans’ hockey programs in Western Pennsylvania. Ten teams fall under the HST Foundation umbrella including; Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey, Steel City Icebergs, Penguins Blind Hockey, Pittsburgh Ice, Pittsburgh Emperors, Johnstown Sitting Bulls, Happy Valley Special Hockey, Pittsburgh Royals Special Hockey, Beaver County Ice Sharks and Pittsburgh Warriors. To learn more, visit hockeystickstogether.org.
Launched during the 2012 school year, PensFIT provides free floor hockey equipment to over 650 qualifying elementary schools, both public and private, in 10 different counties. Currently, over 180,000 elementary students have received free hockey equipment. The program also provides teacher training, instruction and supplemental materials for the school.
As a no-cost education initiative from the NHL and NHLPA, Future Goals aims to teach students STEM skills by leveraging hockey. The program uses the game of hockey as a learning vehicle to help students understand the real-world applications of science and math principles. Schools across the country use the web-based course to inspire student interest in STEM skills. Since 2014 over 42,000 students have participated in Penguins Future Goals Hockey Scholar Program.
EXCEL Hockey Academy
In 2017.18, the Penguins organization opened the doors to EXCEL Hockey Academy, a premier scholastic hockey academy in partnership with the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex and North Catholic High School. EXCEL Hockey Academy offers students a unique combination of traditional classes with daily ice time and world-class hockey training. The inaugural program began on August 21, 2017 with 28 high school students from the tristate area, as well as cities across North America. In addition to the high school level (grades 9-12), EXCEL Hockey Academy is open to middle school (grades 6-8) and grade school (grades 3-5) students as well on a modified basis. To learn more, visit excelhockeyacademy.com.
Prospects Youth Hockey Clinics
Each off-season, during the Penguins annual development camp at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the Penguins prospects participate in a series of youth hockey clinics. The clinics are a great way for youth players to learn from and interact with the future stars of the Penguins.
Visit the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex's Website to Get in the Game!