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National youth dek hockey team tunes up in Murrysville for world championship

Jacob Tierney
| Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 3:54 p.m.

A national junior dek hockey team with its eye on a world championship is training this weekend at the Murrysville SportsZone.

The US DekHockey Federation U14 team is made up of kids age 11-13 from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey. There are 22 players on Team USA, including alternates.

“Every single one of these (kids) was picked for a very specific reason, and they're all very intelligent players. They're all players who play with heart,” said coach Bill Almond.

The team will travel to Nitra, Slovakia, in June for the World Junior Ball Hockey Championships , where they will play against Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic and other nations.

This will be the first time a U.S. team in this age group will compete in world championship.

Though it is regularly in the running, the United States hasn't brought home a gold medal in dek hockey at any age level in more than a decade, Almond said.

It's logistically challenging to get kids from three states together to practice, but the team had one training camp in Massachusetts last month and plans to have at least one more before departing for Europe, Almond said.

Historically, the US DekHockey Federation youth teams have been comprised almost entirely of kids from Massachusetts, but Almond said he's hoping to broaden the organization's reach.

One way he's doing that is through extensive fundraising to cover at least some of the costs for children and their parents who travel around the country and world for practices and games.

In the past, families have had to shoulder most of the cost themselves, he said.

The young players have already managed to beat older teams in scrimmage matches, Almond said.

Hempfield resident Nick Bruno, 13, was chosen for the team in November.

“It's been amazing,” he said. “We have to work hard, we have training we have to do every day.”

Bruno said he is confident about the team's chances in June.

The Murrysville training camp will continue Sunday.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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