The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

April 21, 2014

Sitting Bulls bring home national sled hockey title

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Sitting Bulls disabled sled hockey team recently won a national championship.

The team, comprised of disabled athletes from Cambria, Somerset, Indiana, Bedford and Blair counties, finished first in the Youth B Division at the USA Hockey National Disabled Hockey Festival held April 11-13 in Marlborough, Mass.

“It’s a national tournament. Teams from throughout the United States participate in it, and there are 60 teams and seven different brackets,” said Sitting Bulls President Russ White of Geistown. “This is our third year of going. Last year we finished second and this year we finished first by beating the team that beat us last year.”

The Sitting Bulls defeated the Chicago Hornets 6-1 in the title game. Last year, the Hornets won 4-1 in the championship round against the Sitting Bulls.

The team, coached by Mike Fitzgerald of Somerset, was undefeated in the national tournament, also posting victories over teams from Philadelphia and a squad made up of teams from various parts of the country.

Sitting Bulls’ scoring leaders included Ethan Buchkovich (10 goals, 15 points) and Harrison Burgess (seven goals, 11 points). Lorenzo Favor added two goals, and Megan Ott had a goal. Russ White had four assists, and Zack Popelish, Gregory Bartholomew, Cameron Nellis each  had two assists.

Goaltender Brady Blough was solid in the victories.

“Our program is for kids. We had a kid who was 8 years old participating,” President White said. “We have two adults who just started. It’s for anybody who wants to go out and try to play hockey. We’ve been around for six years. We practice at Planet Ice. We want to get it out to the parents if they want something for their kids to do.”

The Festival takes place in different parts of the country each year.

This year, the Festival was held at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough.

The annual USA Disabled Hockey Festival is the largest disabled hockey event of its kind. It brings together all the disciplines, Special Hockey, Sled Hockey, Standing/Amputee, and Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

“We have no cost if you participate in our program. We raise all of our own money,” White said. “All of the equipment we get, the kids and their parents pay nothing.

“Kids or adults with disabilities play. We have 16 kids and two adults. We’re looking for more to come out and give it a try. Once they give it a try they usually get hooked.”

For more information on the program, contact White at 244-1729 or email him at whiteavengers99@aol.com.

 

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