The Mid-Winter Classic is quickly becoming one of the elite hockey tournaments in North America. The annual event, hosted by the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite organization, just before Christmas attracts 50 teams from around North America to the Pittsburgh area to kick off the holidays with competitive hockey. The tournament features divisions that range from the 2009 birth years through the 2006 birth years.
Hosting an event of this caliber at home is a great perk for members of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite squads that will be competing not only because they are afforded the opportunity to be home for the holidays but also because the chance to play against elite level competition without having to travel creates a tremendous home-ice advantage. While the championship game for each age bracket was hosted at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the tournament organizers took advantage of the many rinks around Pittsburgh with games also taking place at the RMU Island Sports Center, Baierl Ice Complex, Alpha Ice Complex, Shady Side Academy, Center Ice Arena and Pittsburgh Ice Arena.
All participating teams defended home ice well and demonstrated the quality of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite organization and three teams were able to clinch titles on home ice as the 2009 Elites, 2008 Elites and 2007 Elites all won their championship round games in convincing fashion. The 2009 Elites posted a resounding victory as they dispatched the North Jersey Avalanche 7-2 to claim their banner. The 2008 Elites faced the Pittsburgh Vengeance in the championship game and won 3-1. A similar ending was in store for the 2007 Elites who claimed their championship in a shutout fashion over the PAL Jr. Islanders by a score of 3-0.
Congratulations to all teams who participated in what was another successful Mid-Winter Classic!