Carlynton Hockey Club moves forward despite league uncertainty
The Carlynton Hockey Club was preparing to begin play in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League next season.
Then the amateur hockey situation in Western Pennsylvania was thrown into uncertainty.
The Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League sent a letter to all PIHL teams Jan. 9 saying it would take over the PIHL's developmental and freshman level hockey programs immediately, Carlynton Hockey Club President Nick Cindrich said. The PAHL could take over high school hockey in Western Pennsylvania as well, while the PIHL is trying to retain control of all levels of hockey, Cindrich said.
“(Everything is) up in the air right now between the PIHL and PAHL,” Cindrich said. “I don't know who's going to win. I just know I've got to follow whatever rules (of whoever is) in charge.”
Both the PIHL and PAHL are affiliated with Hockey USA, the governing body for all amateur hockey in the United States. But some differences do exist between the organizations.
While the PIHL considers itself a school-oriented league, the PAHL is open to everybody. Additionally, while the PAHL breaks each age group down by skill level, the PIHL doesn't do so.
There also are cost differences between the two organizations, though Cindrich said it was unclear which one would be a less expensive option for Carlynton.
“This is expensive — let's not kid ourselves,” Cindrich said. “Hockey is the only sport (where) you have to pay for the surface you play on.”
Though it's unclear which league Carlynton will play in, Cindrich and other club organizers are moving forward in the hopes of fielding teams at several levels next season.
After getting approval from the Carlynton School Board in December to use the district's name, colors and mascot, the club held an informational meeting for parents Friday at the Carnegie VFW Hall.
At the meeting, the club elected a board of directors to begin getting the team ready for next season. Without a board, Cindrich said the club couldn't buy ice time, write bylaws or get an insurance certificate from Hockey USA.
“Everything has to be done (this way) — it can't just be thrown out there,” Cindrich said. “We've done a lot of homework already.”
The club hopes to field developmental, freshman and junior varsity teams next season, with the hopes of having a varsity team within two years.
Vice president Kim Angle said the club reached out to the Boys and Girls Club in Carnegie and distributed surveys in the schools to determine interest from the community.
“(We received) a lot more (interest) than what we thought we would have,” Angle said. “We're pretty confident that we'll be able to form pure Carlynton freshman and JV hockey without taking from other schools, which is good because that's what our goal was.”
With the board in place, Carlynton is awaiting the news of what will happen with amateur hockey in Western Pennsylvania. Club officials plan to attend a PAHL meeting Jan. 29 to find out more.
“We have to listen to both sides,” Cindrich said. “I'm going to be at both meetings, and we'll find out what's going on.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.