The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Breaking News

Local Sports

March 23, 2014

Sitting Bulls event hosts LaRod, Sochi Paralympic medalist

JOHNSTOWN — LaRod Stephens-Howling had never played sled hockey before Sunday afternoon.

Turns out, the veteran NFL running back wasn’t all that bad at the new sport, netting a pair of assists for his Celebrities and Educators team at Planet Ice in Richland Township.

Then again, Sunday wasn’t about Stephens-Howling (or even the final score) as much as it was about his on-ice opposition: The Johnstown Sitting Bulls – a sled hockey team for disabled youth.

“I’m honored to be here,” Stephens-Howling said. “Just to see these kids not putting limitations on themselves and doing what they love to do is definitely an exciting event for me.” 

The Sitting Bulls picked up a 9-2 win in their fourth-annual fundraiser game at Planet Ice.

While Stephens-Howling made his name on the football field, this wasn’t his first time on the ice.

“My mother made my brother and I go to a camp one time when we were younger,” Stephens-Howling said. “I think it was the Bruce Coles camp at the War Memorial. That didn’t go too well for me.”

The event also featured an appearance by U.S. Paralympian Dan McCoy, who won a gold medal with the U.S. Men’s Sled Hockey team in Sochi, Russia earlier this month.

When competing stateside, McCoy – a Cheswick resident – plays for the Mighty Penguins sled hockey team in Pittsburgh.

While McCoy has played and succeeded at the highest level internationally, he definitely sees the potential for members of the Sitting Bulls to trade their maroon and black threads for Team USA’s red, white and blue.

“It’s a great feeling to see the next generation of players come up,” McCoy said. “I guarantee that we’ll see a lot of these guys wearing USA jerseys in no time.” 

McCoy, who was sporting his gold medal from Sochi, is still coming down from the emotional high of the triumph.

“It was a great feeling,” McCoy said. “I’d been working at it for a long time. To finally see my dream realized is a special feeling and to have all my family and friends supporting me through the journey, it was a good time.”

Fundraising events like this are vital for the team, which presents opportunities for disabled players at no cost to them or their families.

“If the parents are worried about the cost of it, it’s free,” Sitting Bulls business manager Russ White said “Everything we raise goes toward our organization, the parents don’t have anything to pay.

“We’re trying to make so that they come up here and have a blast.” 

McCoy notes that the region’s love of hockey can help the sledded version of the sport grow if people are aware of it.

“People obviously are huge Penguins fans around here,” McCoy said. “Just to have sled hockey as a part of the community, that helps to raise awareness for the Paralympics and sled hockey itself.”

The players are aided with the help of specially designed sleds and two shortened sticks with picks on one end to help propel themselves along the ice. Players may also be pushed by a coach or assistant if they cannot propel themselves.

Sunday’s turnout saw scant availability in the rink’s bleacher section when McCoy dropped the ceremonial first puck between the Sitting Bulls’ Lorenzo Favor and Stephens-Howling.

“This is one of the best turnouts we’ve had in the last three years,” White said.

Having outside star power willing to lend their time to the Sitting Bulls’ cause encourages White that the teams upward trend won’t stop anytime soon.

“We have a relative of LaRod’s that we went to two months ago,” White noted. “She approached him and he said that if he wasn’t doing anything through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ organization, that he’d be willing to help us out. Danny McCoy was a plus after going to Sochi and winning a gold medal. He lives in Pittsburgh and we helped them out with their fundraisers and we asked if he could come today for us and he said ‘No problem.’ He helped us out a lot.”

The team, which hosts a tournament at Planet Ice before traveling across the region to play in weekend tournaments throughout the season, is gearing up for the 10th Annual USA Disabled Hockey Festival in Marlborough, Mass. next month. The Sitting Bulls boast second-place finishes in the Columbus Day Challenge and the Ohio Blades Aladdin Tournament this season.

“I am very excited,” Sitting Bulls player Ethan Buchkovich said of the upcoming tournament.

Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014

  • Blairsville pegged as team to beat

    As Heritage Conference football coaches assembled at United High School during Wednesday’s media day event at Thomas J. Madill Field, the near-consensus opinion is that Blairsville – under second-year coach Rick Artley – is going to be the team to beat once the season begins on Aug. 29.
    After the Bobcats, the forecasted picture gets a little foggier.

    July 30, 2014

  • tim Baserunning blunder helps Giants end six-game losing streak

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle. What he watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • shazier Rookie linebacker making impression at Steelers camp

    Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
    Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greene’s No. 75 will be retired at Ravens game

    Joe Greene’s No. 75 now belongs to the ages.
    The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday the team will retire the Hall of Fame defensive end’s number during a game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 2.

    July 30, 2014

  • levon Bell planning to do better

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boilers advance in Pony series

    July 29, 2014

  • Martella’s Pharmacy, LAG name AAABA pickup players

    July 28, 2014

AP Video
Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide