Some new territory is being forged this year on the scholastic hockey scene.
Altoona is getting the taste of playing in the Pennsylvania Intrascholastic League's elite AAA Division. Hollidaysburg was originally primed to compete in the AA Division but decided to stay in the Open Division because a slip in participation numbers.
As of the holiday break, the Mountain Lions were finding the going a bit rough with three wins in 10 games, although Jamesy Rossi, Julian Fazi and Derek Mathews were in the top 10 in scoring in the division.
Hollidaysburg was faring better in the Open Division with a 4-6-1 record.
Hollidaysburg and Central PA - which was also light in participation numbers - formed an alliance. By adding the Central PA players available to the Hollidaysburg team, it solidified the Golden Tigers position to continue participation in the Open Division. With the Hollidaysburg players also being on the Central PA roster, it allowed Central PA an opportunity to continue its participation in the Laurel Mountains Hockey League.
Central PA is currently leading the Laurel Mountains League's North Division with a 2-0-1 record. Bishop Guilfoyle, also in the LMHL North, is 2-3-1, and Northern Cambria is 2-2.
Alumni events on tap
Hollidaysburg and BG have scheduled their annual alumni games for this Sunday.
The Hollidaysburg matchup, which will feature two alumni teams, is to begin at 4 p.m. at Galactic Ice.
The Marauders follow with what is being called the Marauder Showcase. The BG program will be dividing its primary and elementary (up to sixth grade) participants for matchups to kick things off. That will be followed by a non-league game between the two junior high squads to lead into the BG alumni vs. BG varsity team game set to begin at 7:45 p.m. and run through 9:20 p.m.
All games will be non-checking.
Local organizations who provide food for those in need will be the big winners. Admission to the Hollidaysburg event will be a food donation for the American Rescue Workers of Hollidaysburg. Admission to the BG showcase will be a cash donation with all proceeds going to Sister Paula's Food Kitchen.
A number of former scholastic players here are continuing their hockey experience.
Bryan Koronowski, a former Golden Tiger, is playing for the Penn State Altoona team. Josh Stell, another Hollidaysburg product, is playing at Slippery Rock University and has a goal and an assist so far.
Kayla Ross, who played at Altoona during her junior high years here, is a senior at Gilmour Academy in Ohio and has been receiving offers from Division I women's college programs. Alana Marcinko, a former goalie for Bishop Guilfoyle, is a netminder for the team at Gilmour, and she, too, is getting attention.
Ross is a team leader and has at least 10 goals and four assists in games through mid-December. Marcinko has three shutouts to her credit.
Billy Blanset, who played for the Altoona junior high team and then for the Bishop Guilfoyle varsity as a freshman, is now with a Wooster (Ohio) Oilers, a junior program.
Pens help area youth
Hockey for 4-to-8-year-olds will be getting a boost locally this spring. Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have joined with Reebok and Dick's Sporting Goods to begin the Little Penguins "Learn to Play Hockey'' program.
The program will be offered by Galactic Ice.
Applicants must be new to the sport and registration is limited, so it will be first-come, first-serve. The registration fee is $35 and the program begins in April and runs into the summer months.
Under the program, each participant will receive Reebok SC87 Crosby-endorsed equipment including skates, stick, helmet, gloves, pants, pads and an equipment bag as well as a Little Penguins' jersey. For more detailed information contact Galactic Ice.
The program is also being offered in Cambria County. For more information on that program, contact Sean McTigh at Planet Ice, Johnstown.
This season, Bishop Guilfoyle Ice Hockey Club offered loaner equipment for those wanting to try the sport but whose parents had expressed concern about the cost of outfitting a young hockey player for their child to try the sport to see if the youngsters liked it. Club membership was open to all those interested.
The number of participants in the club program grew from about 30 a year ago in grades 5-12 to more than 80 this year in grades kindergarten through 12.
BG was successful in getting a benefactor and a grant through the Altoona Rotary Radio Days program to purchase the loaner equipment.