Panthers return to International tourney

The Pelham Panthers' bantam youth hockey team will compete in the International Silver Sticks Association tournament Jan. 5-8 in Ontario, Canada. (Contributed)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

The Pelham Panthers’ pee wee youth hockey team put the Southern city on the North American hockey map after capturing an International Silver Stick Association tournament championship in Ontario a year ago.

The Panthers’ bantam youth hockey team, which includes several players who competed on the pee wee team last season, is back in Ontario this weekend trying to add to its reputation.

“It can’t do anything but help it,” said team manager Greg Darnell. “We would love for the program to grow. Opportunities like this certainly help to do that.”

The Panthers earned a spot in the Silver Sticks tournament after winning the Southern regional qualifying tournament recently in Huntsville. The Panthers defeated teams from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida to reach the tournament, which is comparable to the Little League World Series in prestige and format.

The championship last season accounted for the first and only international title won by a team from the Birmingham area.

Darnell said the tournament will give Pelham youth hockey players a chance to compete against the best hockey players in North America.

“It’s a big honor for them,” Darnell said. “The best athletes in Canada play hockey. They want to play well and do their best.”

The team includes Alec Slawinski, Caleb Norton, Reid Conner, Blake Harlow, Philip Parker, Chandler Brown, Tristin Klewsaat, Austin Weber, Sydnee Goyer, Peyton Harlow, Jakob Hornsby, Matthew Darnell, Brendan Mitchell-Fostyk, Austin Gleason, Damon DeLaRosa and Zachary Rodgers. The team is coached by Harlow, Stephane Goyer and Randy Brown, and is managed by Darnell.

Darnell leads the Panthers with 22 goals and 30 total points.

Brown has scored 20 goals this season. Hornsby owns 11 goals.

Peyton Harlow leads the team with 12 assists. Mitchell-Fostyk and Weber have recorded 11 assists this season.

Rodgers owns a team-high 239 saves in goal for the Panthers.