Leafs win PeeWee division to close PYHL season

Braden Pichel scored the game-winning goal with 4:22 left to play Thursday night to help lead his Maple Leafs to the PeeWee/Bantram divisional championship, 4-2, over the Penguins.

The game closed the season for the Pelham Youth Hockey League, formerly known as the Birmingham Youth Hockey League, at the Pelham Civic Center.

Pichel, who also added an assist on the game-tying goal with 9:40 to play, has played hockey since he was 4-years-old. He has enjoyed his experience since joining the PYHL when his father Logan was relocated from Buffalo, N.Y. to Alabama last summer to work with Regions Bank. Logan&8217;s wife Kristin says the family chose to live close to Pelham because of their hockey.

&8220;There is a tremendous amount of good hockey players around here. People would be surprised hockey is in the South…plus southern hospitality and hockey are a good mix,&8221; Kristin said.

League director Jeff Cheeseman, a native of Ontario, Canada says the league has grown by nearly 100 kids in three years and at least two dozen from other states.

Cheeseman took over the program in July 2006 and sees his first year as director as very rewarding, having grown up in a similar system as a kid before his college and professional career.

&8220;It&8217;s good for me. I really enjoy what I do,&8221; he said.

Chesseman is looking to upgrade the image of the league also by using replica jerseys of professional teams, trophies and tournaments with other youth hockey leagues in the Southeast, including Memphis, Tenn. and Columbus, Ga., in addition to hosting tournaments