Special-needs hockey team seeking members at Neville Island event

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | 12:33 PM


A Western Pennsylvania special-needs hockey team is looking for more members.

The Steel City Icebergs will hold a free registration event May 20 on their home ice at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center on Neville Island.

Males and females of all ages with developmental disabilities are encouraged to attend. No athletic or skating experience is required.

The event will include a meet-and-greet, equipment fitting and special hockey exhibition game.

Part of the nonprofit Greater Pittsburgh Special Hockey Association, the team practices on Wednesdays and scrimmages other special squads. It plays 10 games a year, including in states such as New York, Maryland and Virginia.

Equipment and uniforms are provided. Players are divided by ability, with six to seven volunteer coaches.

GPSHA President Evan Gorse said the team currently has 30 to 40 players representing more than 40 families. Players range in age from four to five years old to their 30s.

“Lot of good friendships (have been) made,” Gorse said. A Butler County woman founded the program in 2009 after seeing her son's teammate struggle to play because of a developmental problem.

Alex Weber, 23, of Penn, Butler County, is still a member.

“I like playing hockey to score goals,” he said. “I have many friends on the team.

“I like going to play out of town to visit other teams and stay in a hotel.”

Chris Weber said it brings tears to her eyes watching her son play his favorite sport.

“I am so thrilled he is able to be part of this amazing team,” she said.