NEW CASTLE —
It’s been touted as the Little League World Series of hockey.
The Brick Invitational Super Novice Hockey Tournament, a weeklong event held at the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, pits the best 9- and 10-year-olds against each other in the largest squirt hockey event in North America.
There are teams from Toronto, Chicago, Vancouver, Boston and now, starting this season, Pennsylvania.
Team Pennsylvania made its inaugural appearance in the 24th running of the event and Mohawk Elementary student Patrick Silhanek had an ice-level view of all the action.
A member of Penguins Elite Squirt Major team, Silhanek, 10, has been playing hockey since he was 5 and skating since he was 4. It’s that effort, mixed with natural talent, that landed him on Pennsylvania’s first tourney team.
Already part of a prestigious class of hockey youth as a member of Penguins Elite team, only the best from that group and those from the eastern part of the state got placed on the first Team Pennsylvania squad.
“It was Dave Morehouse, who is the president of the Penguins. A lot of things are happening with youth hockey in western Pennsylvania, and this Brick tournament is a result of what he is doing. He went in and he got us the opportunity to play,” Silhanek’s father, Patrick Sr., said. “There was a tournament team from the west, which was basically the Penguins Selects for the spring, then Philadelphia had a team. It was roughly 50 kids. From that team, they got the Brick team, plus three kids from Nova Scotia.”
CLASS OF HIS OWN
The younger Silhanek found a spot on Team Pennsylvania at his favorite position, defense.
“I like to stop that guy (on the other team),” said Silhanek, whose favorite player is Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. “I like to play the game a lot. I like to see the pros play on television.”
The Brick Invitational is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most. It carries a certain amount of weight with the players that have participated in the tournament in the past. Former and current NHL players and superstars like Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews, Tyler Seguin, P.K. Subban and former Penguins Zach Boychuk, Ben Lovejoy and Brian Strait all participated in the event.
Patrick had the unique opportunity of having future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi coach him on Team Pennsylvania. A former superstar for both the Flyers and Penguins, the two organizations that sponsored the team, Recchi seemed like the obvious choice to lead the charge. Despite Recchi’s career beginning nearly 15 years before Patrick was even born, Patrick was no stranger to the history of his new coach.
“He played for Pittsburgh, Philly, Carolina and Boston,” he said. “I like him.”
Patrick’s father was impressed by the effort put forth by the Penguins organization for the kids when they arrived in Edmonton.
“It’s supposed to be sponsored by the Pens and Flyers, but the Pens, by far, contributed the most,” he said. “They put us up for a week in a hotel. They paid for everybody’s hotel, the ice, the coaches and the practice. That was over $2,000 there. They bought the kids their bags, their jerseys and the shirts. Most of that was from Dave Morehouse.”
Morehouse’s son, Jackson, is a player on the team, which consists of eight athletes from the Penguins Selects team, seven players from Flyers Selects and three import players from Nova Scotia.