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Indiana Township teen makes national sled hockey team

| Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010

An Indiana Township teen will play this year for the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.

Dan McCoy worked his way onto the roster during a tryout last month in Colorado. At 16, he will be the team's youngest player.

USA Hockey released the team's 16-player roster on Monday. McCoy is one of two players from Pennsylvania, and the only one from the western side of the state.

McCoy, a junior at Fox Chapel Area High School who plays locally for the Mighty Penguins, spent the past two years on the junior national squad.

He plays forward and can blast a slap shot past a goalie at nearly 60 mph — a considerable show of strength from someone who shoots from a seated position.

Almost identical to traditional hockey, sled hockey is geared toward those with physical disabilities. Participants glide across the ice on a sled rather than skates.

McCoy, who has spina bifida, started playing at age 5.

"I have to admit that I teared up a little," he said about being told that he made the national team. "I was so overwhelmed that I immediately got up to walk out of the room. The coaches were like, 'Hold on a minute! We still have stuff we have to talk about.'"

"This is the culmination of everything he's been working for," said McCoy's mother, Angie McCoy. "It's his passion."

Dan McCoy said there are only a couple of things that could top his most recent honor — making the 2014 Paralympic team, and winning a gold medal with the team.

McCoy will be forced to try out for the national team each year.

His Mighty Penguins coach doesn't see any problem there.

"I have no doubt he'll succeed," Mighty Penguins Coach Ray Harding said. "He'll improve his strength and skills. In fact, I see him becoming a captain of that team at some point."

Harding praised McCoy not only for his hockey talent but for the young man he has become.

"He's just an all-around good kid," Harding said. "He has a great outlook on things, and despite his talent level, he doesn't boast about anything. You don't find too many kids like that."

Two other Mighty Penguins — Dan Hefley of Wexford and Nevin Gray of Greensburg — made the junior national team.

Additional Information:

About the player

Dan McCoy is an offensive player who prefers to shoot with his right hand. (Sled hockey players use two sticks.) Here are a few statistics about him:

• Height: 5 feet 4 inches.

• Weight: 135 pounds.

• Years of experience: 11.

• One of nine forwards who earned a spot on the 2010-11 national team.

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