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Umberger raves about hockey’s growth in Pennsylvania

Dec 31, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

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With Penn State’s hockey program off to a solid start and “Team Pennsylvania 2003” showing off youth hockey in the area, it seems reasonable that R.J. Umberger is raving about the growth of hockey in “The Keystone State.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review caught up with “the first blue-chip hockey talent” from Western Pennsylvania to pick his brain about the progress that’s been made while he attended the Three Rivers Classic.*

“It has been special to see how things have changed, and I loved seeing the enthusiasm for the college games this week,” Umberger said.

He singled out how the sport is growing in Pittsburgh, in particular.

“This was a great week for Pittsburgh hockey,” Umberger said. “Having Penn State around is going to make it even better. Things are looking up for hockey in this city.”

Maybe there will even be a few Pittsburgh Penguins games in a few weeks?

* – Umberger’s alma mater Ohio State lost to Penn State during the event.

  1. spydey629 - Dec 31, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    How about a little love for Robert Morris University — the Pittsburgh school that hosted the tournament?

    6-0 over Penn State and 1-0 over #5 Miami to win the Three Rivers Classic.

    It’s not every weekend your goalie turns aside 99 of 99 shots.

  2. mustbechris - Dec 31, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation is doing great things in Philly too. PA isn’t quite at NJ’s level for hockey yet but it’s definitely making strides the past few years.

  3. whatthepuck2012 - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Can someone explain what “blue chip hockey talent” means?

    • danphipps01 - Dec 31, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      Elite-level, basically. If the Tribune’s comment is accurate, Umberger’s the first NHL-calibre player of note to come out of Western Pennsylvania. Dunno if that’s actually true or not, but one assumes a Pittsburgh newspaper would know their hockey history better than I do.

      • whatthepuck2012 - Dec 31, 2012 at 5:53 PM

        Thank you! I’m surprised they don’t take Ryan Malone into consideration.

  4. florida76 - Dec 31, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Few people know this, but the Pittsburgh/Western Pennsylvania area is one of the birthplaces of pro hockey in the United States, way back in the early 1900s. Players from the Western PA league are inducted in the HOF from this time period, this is well before the Original Six came on the scene. After a brief time in the NHL, Pittsburgh was still a fixture on the professional hockey scene for several decades.

    In fact, the old Hornets captured the title as a minor league affiliate in their final season, before the Penguins began play. So when you take into account the history, combined with the success of the Pens since the Mario era, it’s not surprising youth and college hockey is taking off in the area.

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