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Delmont, New Kensington rinks will hold national youth hockey events

Last year, the Allegheny Badgers Tier II 16U boys ice hockey team earned the Mid-Am District title, advanced to nationals in Amherst, N.Y., and secured third place in the 3A bracket.

The Allegheny Badgers Tier II 16U boys ice hockey team won the Mid-Am District title last year. They then advanced to nationals in Amherst, N.Y., and came in third place in the 3A bracket.

Seventeen of the 20 players from that team stayed together and moved up to the 18U level.

The Badgers will once again participate in a national tournament, but this time in their home arena.

Palmer Imaging Arena in Delmont, along with Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington, are set to host the three USA Hockey 18U national championship tournaments from Wednesday to Sunday.

Badgers 18U coach Josh Fajt mentioned that the players are thrilled about the upcoming tournaments and the realization that this is their last week as a team.

The Badgers Tier II 18U team, the host team for the 2A tournament, includes players from various high schools.

The Badgers (19-23-7) will start playing at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday at Palmer and then play at 3 p.m. Thursday, with Friday’s round-robin game at 1:15 p.m. at Pittsburgh Ice.

The quarterfinals will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Palmer and Pittsburgh Ice, and the semifinals are scheduled for 6:15 and 6:30 at Palmer.

The 2A title game is set for 10 a.m. on Sunday at Palmer.

Fajt mentioned that they have more experience than many other teams and hope to leverage that. They also faced one of the toughest schedules in the country and are motivated by their deep run last year.

Fajt added that playing at home in such a tournament can have both positive and negative impacts.

The Armstrong Arrows, who play at Belmont Ice Complex in Kittanning, will also have the advantage of playing in familiar surroundings.

Armstrong, ranked eighth in the country in Tier II 18U, dominated the Mid-Am tournament and secured the title and an automatic bid to nationals.

The Arrows are scheduled to play 3A round-robin games at various times and locations from Wednesday to Friday.

The 3A quarterfinals begin on Saturday morning, and the semifinals will take place at 4 p.m. at Palmer.

The 3A title game is on Sunday at 11 a.m.

The 1A division will move from round-robin games directly to the semifinals on Saturday, with the championship game at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

A total of 36 teams from across the country will participate in the championship tournaments.

The Mid-Am district, to which all Pittsburgh area teams belong, selected the Badgers and Palmer Imaging Arena to host the championship tournaments.

USA Hockey, based in Colorado, decided that the local application deserved to host a tournament in the area.

“Last year, around this time, we learned that we would be hosting the 18U tournaments,” stated Mindy Ulyas, the general manager for both Palmer Imaging and Pittsburgh Ice arenas and the scheduler for the Badgers organization.

“Planning began right away. Over the past three months, many people have been working behind the scenes to prepare the facilities and everything else to welcome all the teams this week.”

Ulyas mentioned that the Badgers and Arrows organizations, both arenas, and others are thrilled to host over 50 games from Wednesday through Sunday.

“We were shocked when we found out, and we are very honored to have this opportunity to host such an event in the area for Western Pennsylvania hockey,” Ulyas said.

Pittsburgh will have a strong presence this week at USA Hockey national tournaments across the country.

Pittsburgh Pens Elite has four boys teams at Youth Tier I tournaments, starting Tuesday, in Plymouth, Mich., Fargo, N.D., and Las Vegas.

A pair of Pens Elite girls teams will compete at Tier I tournaments, starting Tuesday, in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

The Steel City Ice Renegades boys Tier II 16U team begins its national tournament Wednesday in Dallas.

The South Pittsburgh Rebellion and Steel City Selects will have five teams combined in girls Tier II tournaments this week in Sioux Falls, S.D., Green Bay, Wisc., and East Lansing, Mich.

Follow all of the national events locally and across the country at nationals.usahockey.com/.

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