Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hockey Is Now a Year-Round Activity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hockey Is Now a Year-Round Activity

Article excerpt

The temperature often is on the sunny side of 80 at this time of year.

Sometimes, the humidity isn't much lower.

Summer days in Western Pennsylvania can be sticky. Steamy. Sweltering.

Yeah, hockey weather.

Sure, it's considered a winter sport - after all, it's played on ice - but hockey has become a year-round activity in this region.

"We are as busy, if not busier, during the summer months," said Rich Hixon, president of the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. "The facility is fully programmed from 6:30 a.m. through 1 a.m., daily."

He said that more than 3,500 players are enrolled in its summer camps, clinics and leagues.

A typical day at this time of year, Hixon said, looks like this:

6:30 a.m.-8 a.m. - Adult morning hockey league.

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. -- Hockey Camp (age, skill level and camp theme vary by week).

3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. - Group lessons (available to all ages and skill levels).

5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. - Pittsburgh Penguins Elite team camps (Elite players).

7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. - High-performance training (Elite level players).

9:30 p.m.-1 a.m. - Adult League (70+ teams of varying skill levels).

The RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island bustles during the warm-weather months, too.

"We may have a very short break in mid- to late April after the typical youth hockey season and tryouts are done and then again a bit in early August," said Dave Hanson, executive director there. "We stay very busy in the 'offseason.'

"We have anywhere between 85 to 110 teams, ranging from Mites to college/Junior age kids. Approximately 900 hockey players [participate] in our 12-week season that has games scheduled every night of the week and all day on Saturday and Sunday.

"Our adult and Iron Lung leagues also pick up because we are able to accept more teams due to the availability of ice. Plus, we run summer hockey camps and clinics during the day time."

Keeping the doors open and the ice booked is the goal at every rink, of course, although hockey's popularity has caused at least one operator to alter his facility's summertime routine. …

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