Pelham youth hockey teams capture titles

The Pelham Panthers peewee hockey team celebrate winning the 22nd Annual Country and Western Showdown in Nashville, Tenn. (Contributed)

The Pelham Panthers peewee hockey team celebrate winning the 22nd Annual Country and Western Showdown in Nashville, Tenn. (Contributed)

By MICKEL PONTHIEUX / Sports Reporter

PELHAM – Two Pelham youth hockey teams wrapped up their seasons with league titles Feb. 23-24.

The Pelham Panthers Peewee team captured the Southern Youth Travel Hockey League (SYTHL) peewee tournament championship, and then won the 22nd Annual County and Western Showdown in Nashville.

The Panthers swept through the tournament defeating teams from Cincinnati, Louisville and Atlanta.

The Panthers’ had a challenging year leading up to the two tournament championships.

The team –— which included players between the ages of 11 and 12 —started 3-11, but began to turn its season around and finished the season 17-3 over their last 20 games to end the season with a 25-14-1 record.

“The growth they experienced from the beginning to the end of the season was phenomenal,” said Pelham Pee Wee head coach Roger Mumford.

The team is based out of the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Area, but features players from Pelham, Hoover, McCalla, Tuscaloosa and Pensacola, Fla.

Mumford said that having players from a wide area come together and compete had both good and bad effects due to limited amount of practice time once a month.

“Everybody has to buy into what you are doing,” said Mumford. “We only had four hours of ice time, but you could see the growth. They bought in and that was the key.”

The Pelham Panthers Bantam team — players ages 13 to 14 — won its league championship in Olive Branch, Miss. by defeating the Atlanta Fire 3-2.

The Bantam team finished the season with a record of 28-11-5 and is coached by head coach Tony Harlow.

Both Pelham teams compete in the SYTHL, which includes over 500 players and 14 youth hockey programs across the Southeast, according to a press release.