Move over, Detroit. There’s a new Hockeytown – or perhaps the more accurate term would be Hockey Development Town, USA. Representatives from USA hockey held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce that the Penguins will host the Second Annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at Consol Energy Center on September 26, 2013. USA Hockey, in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting, will choose 40 of the top American-born players eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft to compete against each other in the game. Final Rosters are expected to be announced in August with coaches likely to be named sometime before the 2013 Draft.
“You have a beautiful building here and you’ve got a great hockey city,” USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said. “This has become such a tremendous hockey market since the Penguins franchise was put in in 1967.”
Being a city with a wildly popular NHL team isn’t the only thing that attracted USA Hockey to Pittsburgh, however.
“Give credit to the Penguins for the model they set for engagement with this community at all levels,” Ogrean said. “From the youth programs and the little Pens all the way up, and especially now with what they’re going to do with USA Hockey this fall and in years to come.”
The prospects game this fall will be yet another marquee hockey event the Penguins have hosted in the past year, following the NHL Draft last summer and the Frozen Four this spring.
“The Frozen Four (is) here in April and I think this is all part of the cascading strategy that the Penguins and Dave Morehouse have,” Ogrean said. “And it really is setting the example and setting the bar that we hope more and more cities in the United States are going to emulate in terms of their support and encouragement with the amateur hockey community.”
While American hockey prospects have traditionally hailed from Minnesota, Michigan or Massachusetts, Ogrean said that the demographics of the talent pool are changing.
“Pennsylvania is becoming more and more important as a hockey state,” he said.
This all comes on the heels of Team USA winning gold at the 2013 World Junior Championship. Four Pittsburgh products, including tournament MVP John Gibson, played for Team USA.
“Pittsburgh is a city filled with passionate hockey fans and we’re extremely pleased to work with USA Hockey in bringing the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game to the CONSOL Energy Center this fall,” David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Penguins, said. “It will be a unique opportunity for our fans to see the future American stars of the NHL – some which will undoubtedly play in Pittsburgh – all on the same sheet of ice.”