2-time PIHL girls division goals leader Madyson Kirsch of Freeport has busy summer ahead

Friday, June 14, 2024 | 2:35 PM

It might be the offseason for the PIHL, but that doesn’t mean the grind of hockey stops for anyone, including rising junior scoring sensation Madyson Kirsch from Freeport.

Kirsch led the PIHL girls division in goals for the second straight season — scoring 21 in 12 games — and helped lead the East team to the playoffs. She was tied for second in the league in scoring with 26 points.

After Kirsch and her East teammates saw their season end with a 3-2 loss to the West team in the PIHL semifinals, she said the league as a whole has taken many steps forward.

“We had three new teams added this past year, and the league has grown so much over the past few years,” Kirsch said.

Although Kirsch competed for the East team this past season, she said where she will play next year is still in limbo because new teams might arise, in large part because of the growth of girls hockey in the region.

Creating team chemistry quickly is a must, she said, because rosters change so much from one season to the next and teammates who attend different schools aren’t always familiar with one another.

“Our PIHL team did not practice much, but connecting with all the girls from different schools was cool for me,” Kirsch said.

Kirsch said hockey was something she started at age 4, her interest piqued while watching a Penguins game with her family.

“It was weird because no one in my family had ever played before, so it was something new for me,” Kirsch said.

When Kirsch is not playing in the PIHL girls league during the winter, she has been able to keep herself busy.

“I’m a part of Pens Elite, which keeps me in good shape and stuff, especially in the offseason,” Kirsch said.

She said Pens Elite teams normally practice two or three times a week, which varies depending on the schedules of the players.

Kirsch also recently competed at one of Penn State’s women’s hockey camps. Penn State has one of the top programs in the country, winning CHA regular-season and postseason titles for a second straight year this past spring.

Coming up for Kirsch is a USA Development Camp at Miami (Ohio) in mid-July.

Kirsch’s father, Jim, said earning an invitation to the camp is difficult. Only 152 girls from across the country were selected to attend in Oxford, Ohio.

From high school competition to travel teams to elite summer camps, the growth of girls hockey in Western Pennsylvania is evident.

Kirsch will be looking to help grow the game she loves even more when the PIHL goes into its fifth season during the 2024-25 school year.


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