Penn Hills youth team wins street hockey national championship

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Sunday, May 21, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Bradley Mazza’s trip to New Jersey provided some extra nerves.

The Penn Hills Arsenal Penguins A team found itself in an unfamiliar position during the National Street Hockey Association tournament hosted by the Gloucester Township Hockey Alliance.

Penn Hills was in overtime, fighting for a championship against the Marlton Chiefs. Mazza, who is 9 and an Indiana Township resident, had never played in overtime.

“No, never,” Mazza said. “It was really nerve-wracking, who was going to score.”

After teammate Coltyn Carlgren blocked a shot, the ball went to Luca Daughterty. Daughterty shuffled it ahead to Mazza, who scored the game-winner by faking a shot and putting the ball above the goalie’s shoulder.

The 6-5 win helped Penn Hills become the first Greater Pittsburgh Dek Hockey Center Penguins team to win a national championship in a quarter century.

The Penguins group included players age 7 to 10.

The Penn Hills Arsenal Penguins A team is 16-0 this season. The championship game tested their mettle.

“It was tough getting into a rhythm,” Mazza said. “They were the toughest team we played.”

Marlton jumped out to a 2-0 lead and scored with two minutes remaining to take a 5-4 lead.

“In the final game, we never gave up,” Penn Hills coach John Chmiel said.

Brooks Robertson scored a goal with 1:30 remaining to tie the game for Penn Hills. Throughout the game, Chmiel said Penn Hills had to change its approach from how they typically play.

Usually, they prefer to play it safe. But when they fell behind early, they had to take more risks to catch up.

“Our philosophy is to be conservative within our zone but have two attackers on the ball in the offensive zone,” Chmiel said. “We play a conservative, defense-first style. In the final game, we had to change our style to be a more aggressive, offensive-first team. We made changes to our style.”

Penn Hills roster also included Angelo Ambroselli, Logan Chmiel, Joseph Ciccarelli, Maddox Dawson, Cole Mahaven, Jacob Matcuk, Severio Morascyzk, Dominic Sargo, Seth Tutelo and Kaden Williams.

Chmiel was proud to watch the players grow throughout the season, including seeing his son Logan develop leadership skills.

“I would say that all the players bought into our system,” Chmiel said. “Some players sacrificed playing time and some players were double-shifted to win the game for the team. The team also changed the game plan during the game because we were on the ropes.”

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