With a total of 65 teams and over 1,000 participants, the annual Pittsburgh Penguins Elite Thanksgiving Classic is one of the largest tournaments in the region. The tournament provides girls teams from around North America an opportunity to compete over the holiday break. The tournament features competition in the 10U, 12U and 14U age groups and saw teams from all around the United States and Canada participating.
The championship games for each of the three age divisions featured a Pittsburgh Penguins Elite team as the 10Us, 12Us and 14Us all advanced to the final stage with the chance to defend their home ice with a banner. The 10U and 14U girls faced tough tests in their respective Finals as both encountered matchups with teams from Canada. The 10Us emerged victorious over the Guelph Gryphons in a closely contested 2-1 game to claim their second banner in as many tournaments. After being shutout by Belleville in round robin play, the 14Us capitalized on their shot at redemption by besting Belleville in the all-important rematch by a score of 3-2. The victory gave the 14U girls their fifth banner of the season. The 12Us advanced to the Final of their age division’s tournament to make it a clean sweep of Pens Elite teams reaching the championship game. A meeting with Little Caesars for the second time in the tournament ended with the same unfortunate result: a 1-0 defeat.
A great showing by all three Pittsburgh Penguins Elite teams put a nice bow on a great weekend of hockey. Tournaments of this caliber are fantastic showcases for women’s hockey which continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in the country. In 1990, only 6,336 women were registered with USA Hockey. Today that number has grown to more than 79,000!