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Cranberry plans to make most of new dek hockey rink

| Saturday, May 24, 2014, 3:24 p.m.

Graham Park in Cranberry is slated to be the site of a new Dek hockey rink, provided by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The rink will be the first one built by “Project Power Play,” the program run by the Penguins and Highmark, outside Allegheny County.

The Penguins Foundation requires that communities receiving Dek hockey rinks develop youth programming. Cranberry is planning a comprehensive Dek hockey program, but the specifics are still being developed, said Pete Geis, director of the township's parks and recreation department.

Dek hockey is a running game that is similar to ice hockey. Cranberry's rink will be ready for use by October and open to the public with a combination of scheduled activities, rental availability and possibly open rink time, Geis said.

The parks and recreation department is hopeful 300 people will use the rink in its first year.

“Cranberry Township and the Parks and Recreation Department are committed to creating a community that is healthy, welcoming and connected,” Geis said. “The Dek hockey rink will fit right into that initiative in creating another community asset that will foster increased outdoor physical activity and community togetherness.”

John Balawejder, owner of Cranberry Dek Hockey, said he thinks the rink will enable kids to play more hockey.

“And once you start playing at a young age you fall in love with the sport,” Balawejder said.

“Project Power Play” was developed with the intent of building 12 Dek hockey rinks in and around Pittsburgh, according to the Penguins. Six rinks have been built, and five more, including the rink in Graham Park, are in the works.

Each rink would include a scoreboard, team benches, a penalty box, two goals and Dek hockey equipment. Although the rinks are intended for Dek hockey, they also could be used for other sports.

Corinne Kennedy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7823 or ckennedy@tribweb.com.

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