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Lemieux brother buying New Kensington ice rink

| Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, 2:53 p.m.
The Valley Sports Complex seen on Thursday August 2, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Steven Dietz-contributing photographer
A towing service pulls an SUV out of a creek bed after it veered off Route 910 in Indiana Township and took out the corner of a tree service building near Cedar Run Road on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2012. Steven Dietz / For the Valley News Dispatch
Steven Dietz-contributing photographer
A worker at Arborele Tree Service in Indiana Township cleans up debris after a vehicle veered off Route 910 and took out the corner of their building on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012. Steven Dietz / For the Valley News Dispatch

NEW KENSINGTON — A group calling itself Pittsburgh Ice Arena LP, which includes the brother of Pittsburgh Penguins owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, is buying the Valley Sports Complex.The group is led by Andrew Virostek, a Vandergrift native who lives in Murrysville and owns Murrysville Dek Hockey, a growing business that features dek and in-line hockey.

Alain Lemieux, a former National League Hockey player and Mario Lemieux's brother, is a partner. Alain Lemieux will be the director of hockey operations. The facility will include a hockey training academy bearing his name.On Thursday, Pittsburgh Ice Arena LP announced that it had entered into an agreement with Allegheny Valley Bank to buy the sports complex, which is located at the intersection of Craigdell Road and the Route 56 Bypass.

The complex includes two ice rinks along with a gym. There also is a separate building on the 30-acre property that houses a bar and restaurant.

Virostek declined to provide any financial details of the transaction, which he thinks will be completed in September.

“This is a natural expansion for us,” Virostek said. “I grew up playing dek hockey in Vandergrift and at Memorial Park, the New Ken ‘Y' and at Melwood; I'm 49 and I still play a lot of dek hockey.”

He said “ice was the only thing missing” in his business.“Everything that has been going on there over the years will continue uninterrupted,” Virostek said, “and we plan on bringing some new things in as well.”For three years the Valley Sports Complex has operated under the direction of a receiver, Dale Rossetti. Rossetti was appointed by the bank Aug. 14, 2009 after it sued the previous owners, Rich McDonald of Gilpin, who built the complex, and his brother-in-law, Lower Burrell resident Don Abel, in 2006 for $3.98 million, including $3.7 million owed on the facility's mortgage.“It is a great opportunity for us and our partners, I think we'll do well there,” said Lemieux, 51. “We've been in contact with all the organizations, all the hockey clubs that are there now, and everybody is in 100 percent.”

One of the organizations is the Pittsburgh Vipers of which Lower Burrell resident Carole Woodrow is president. She said the Vipers has “just under” 300 children between ages 4 and 18 involved with the sport.

“I think it is positive in that the fate of the rink has been in doubt because it has been in receivership,” Woodrow said. “Now we know that the rink is secure and our organization will have a place to play for years to come.”

One improvement that's already under way is an upgrade in the facility's lighting, Virostek said.

The other immediate improvements will be establishing the Alain Lemieux Hockey Academy. Unique, specialized resistance training equipment is being added as part of that. And a small, synthetic ice surface will be added to provide more individual instruction, Virostek said.“Alain knows a lot of former NHL players and coaches and looks forward to them coming out to help,” Virostek said.Lemieux, who played minor league hockey as well as playing seven years in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and Quebec Nordiques, has also coached AAA hockey for five years and run numerous clinics and camps around the country.

“This will be something new for the kids in the area,” he said. “You go to the arenas like in Detroit and they all have their training facilities for the kids there. You can see the difference in training. They are a little bit better, a little bit stronger.

“The Alain Lemieux academy, this is something we want to build on,” Lemieux said. “The ability to train kids is so important.“It's not only going to go from a good rink to a great rink,” Lemieux said, “but it will be going from good to great with what is going on inside as well.”

Tom Yerace is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at tyerace@tribweb.com or 724-226-4675.

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