Morgantown Hockey brings unique opportunities for youth athletics
The Morgantown Blades youth team will travel north for practice during renovations to the Morgantown Ice Arena
MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - When you visit the Morgantown Ice Arena for the first time and ask a lot of youth hockey players one word to describe the sport to them, the Morgantown Blades are unanimous in the word they want to say:
“Fun,” each of them said.
However, when you ask them to say a word that isn’t fun, you still get a really good answer.
“It’s an experience,” said Tessa Young
And the experience is just that, one that is almost unique to the state of West Virginia, with only a handful of places to even play the sport
“Not many kids can be there on the ice,” said Young. Not many can afford it, so it is kind of special.
“Especially in North Central West Virginia, its the only arena,” said Ryan Petrucci. “The next closest is Charleston. It’s the only opportunity that they can experience.”
Abram Fettig is one of those players, and he says, simply, his family is hockey.
“Getting started, it’s always been in my family,” said Fettig. “I love hockey. It’s fast. I love the hand-eye coordination stuff. My dad, his mom, her brothers, a bunch of people. We come from hockey.”
But the program is not all about lineage. For Dylan Dull, she simply saw a poster at school and completely changed sports once she started, moving from gymnastics in favor of the speed of the sport. She says the team has been what brings her back each year.
“A lot of the kids are really nice. I’ve played with them years before,” said Dull. “I like being able to stay with the same group of kids.”
Which is why youth sports are so important. For Aaron Modecki, while his family got him into the sport, he’s built a foundation of friends away from school. It’s so strong that when he tells you a story of his first goal this season, he refers to his teammate simply as his friend.
“I thought it was cool to have friends outside of school,” said Modecki. “My friend, he came from behind the net, passed it to me and I put it in.”
With renovations for the ice arena beginning in February, the team will have to travel north for practice while they take place, but it’s worth while. Joey Perella says that before he tried Hockey, he didn’t have a sport.
“Some of my friends at school started playing, so I said I wanted to try it,” said Perella, goalie for the team. “I went to a learn-to-play practice and skated around. I knew that was the sport for me, skating around and having fun with other people.”
Because although hockey isn’t an option high school level in West Virginia, the players still look up to professional players in the NHL. Ky Byers plays center, the same position as his role model.
“I watched a game, NHL, and I just wanted to play,” said Byers. “I started out, and I just loved it. I like the Penguins, but I look up to Connor McDavid.”
McDavid is one of the biggest stars of the NHL, currently shining for the Edmonton Oilers at center.
The biggest importance of the ice arena in Morgantown seems to be that by having it, the future of the sport has opportunities. After all, we can all relate to Liam Cottrell when he says he doesn’t want to use all of his gas
“I like this area,” said Cottrell. “It’s close to home, and I don’t have to travel to Pittsburgh and use a lot of gas.”
Because even if you want to play, there’s always a chance to do so.
“If they were on their phone and saw a hockey game or some videos and thought that it looked like fun, their parents start diving into websites,” said Jaxon Cash. “How to play, learn to play and all of that stuff. When they get started, they’ll find their spot.”
Morgantown Hockey is hosting “A Night at the Races”, a derby-style horse racing event to help raise money for travel expenses and to cover costs during the Morgantown Ice Arena’s renovation.
Tickets to the event that include entry, a buffet dinner and chances to win other prizes can be purchased by emailing MHACashBash@gmail.com for more details.
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