Pair of W. Pa. roller hockey standouts to play professionally in Spain
Two members of a Westmoreland County roller hockey team are headed to Spain to play in that country’s highest league.
Noah Litsko, 18, of North Huntingdon, and Ryan Soboslay, 18, of Plum, plan to join the HCR Cent Patins for the 2019-20 season.
Tyler Davis, the manager of the Hot Shots Indoor Sports Arena in Mt. Pleasant and a teammate of Litsko and Soboslay on the Hot Shots Inferno, said it is not common for players from his organization to compete overseas.
“The teams from the Spanish and French elite leagues have the opportunity to try and recruit all of the top roller hockey players from all over the (U.S.),” Davis said. “Noah and Ryan are young players, but have been making waves in the roller hockey world for a couple years now.
“Through some connections they have made, some of the top people in roller hockey suggested to the Spanish elite league they would be good pick-ups.”
Soboslay said he is nervous, but excited.
“Most kids my age are going to college not (too) far from home, but I’m going across the world and living on my own,” Soboslay said. “I have never been overseas before.”
Litsko is grateful to an older friend who recommended him.
“I will be staying in Spain for six months and hope to experience all of Spain while playing hockey the whole time,” Litsko said. “I am super-excited to leave Sept. 27 and start the season.”
HCR Cent Patins sports director Ainhoa Merino said the season starts Oct. 5 and will end in March or late April, depending on whether the team makes the playoffs.
She said Kitsko and Soboslay will play against world champions and other top players.
“This year, there will be quite a level,” Merino said. “The teams have been greatly enforced.”
She said her club draws players come from across Europe, including Italy, the Czech Republic, France and Finland, as well as Canada and the U.S.
Davis said Litsko and Soboslay are remarkable players.
“They are two of the youngest players playing pro, but you wouldn’t be able to tell because they play with such poise and confidence,” said Davis, 28. “Noah plays with an intense passion (and) is scrappy, physical and tough.
“Noah and Ryan both play defense, but Ryan plays with a unique style. I have been involved in hockey at many levels, but don’t think I have ever seen anyone look as silky smooth as Ryan.”
Davis said Litsko and Soboslay are the types of athletes parents would want their kids to look up to.
“This year, Noah and Ryan were coaches for (a) camp that had about 50 kids,” Davis said. “They were amazing role models and the kids had a blast (learning) from them.”
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.