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Mt. Lebanon Girls 19U team learning about more than just hockey

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Mt. Lebanon Hornets Girls 19U Elena Albenze (left) and Natalie Wareham converge on a Westmoreland Eagles player for the puck during their game Ocober 27, 2012 at the Mt Lebanon Recreation Center Ice Rink in Mount Lebanon. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Mt. Lebanon Hornets Girls 19U player Shelby Weaver (right) and a Westmoreland Eagles player battle for possession of the puck during their game Ocober 27, 2012 at the Mt Lebanon Recreation Center Ice Rink in Mount Lebanon. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Mt. Lebanon Hornets Girls 19U defenseman Jenny Meriney scores on Westmoreland Eagles goaltender Alyssa DePippo during their game Ocober 27, 2012 at the Mt Lebanon Recreation Center Ice Rink in Mount Lebanon. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Annie Katonka of the Mt. Lebanon Hornets Girls 19U team tries to stuff the puck past Westmoreland Eagles goaltender Alyssa DePippo during their game Ocober 27, 2012 at the Mt Lebanon Recreation Center Ice Rink in Mount Lebanon. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
DEAN M. BEATTIE
Mt. Lebanon Hornets Girls 19U player Ella Troy makes a pass in front of the Westmoreland Eagles' Shawna Stahl and goaltender Alyssa DePippo during their game Ocober 27, 2012 at the Mt Lebanon Recreation Center Ice Rink in Mount Lebanon. DEAN M. BEATTIE | FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA

Lost in the attention the Mt. Lebanon Hornets organization has received over the years is the life lessons that Steve Meriney is passing on to the girls on his 19U team.

The Hornets' Girls 19U team is one of the top teams in the PAHL. But beyond the tournament wins and championship trophies, Meriney hopes that when the season is over and the girls move on, they have gained perspective on how to succeed as individuals.

“Playing hockey helps them to learn to compete in life and to deal with failures and successes,” Meriney said. “If you battle with your friend on the ice and you come out of that giving everything you've got, that's a life lesson.

“The important thing isn't winning or losing, but coming out with your head high knowing you gave your best.”

His message didn't take long to strike a chord with his players. Team captain Sommer Farber — who has played organized hockey for 10 years — picked up on his message and stresses it when he's not around.

“I think there's a lot of things from hockey that you can apply to everyday life with teamwork and working together and also making yourself better to help your team,” she said. “That's one of the things that makes hockey very important.”

Meriney has a roster littered with talented players with different skill sets that helped the Hornets jump out to a 4-0 record to start the season.

The offense features Shelby Weaver, Katie Sramac, Jess Glivic, Elena Albenze and Jenny Meriney. The defense is manned by Farber, Annie Katonka and Ella Troy.

The group has had success, thanks, in part, to Steve Meriney's style of practicing game-type situations.

“All the drills I do are designed to put girls into situations that they are going to encounter in games,” Meriney said. “They learn the skills and the systems without really knowing they are learning it. You create a mini game.”

Jenny Meriney — Steve's daughter — said she prospers because of the practices her father coordinates. She said it gives all of the girls, no matter what ability, the opportunity to practice at their own level and gain valuable experience.

“The more-experienced players get a hard workout and the less-experienced players learn to keep up,” she said. “We keep the same lines all year, so playing game-like situation drills gives you an idea as to where everyone is going to be on the ice and how to play with them.”

One of the main reasons the Hornets have had success goes beyond hard work on the ice, according to Steve Meriney. He said the girls have formed a family-like bond and continually encourage one another to succeed.

“The girls have given quite a bit of social support for one another,” Meriney said. “Every girl, no matter what level they are on, they all help each other.

“It's a great dynamic. They're like a young family… from the older girls to the younger girls, from age 11 to 18.”

Members of the Hornets 19U “family” will test themselves throughout the season in both league play and in tournaments in Detroit and Pittsburgh.

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