OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – The Owensboro Puck Hogs never expected to make it this far.
The 14U AA hockey team had its conference season cancelled due to the pandemic. They couldn’t even use their home ice rink for the majority of the season.
“It’s amazing that we were able to pull off the season that we had during COVID,” said head coach Terry Jones. “If I’m not mistaken, we had maybe two or three home games only, so all the other games were travel. All the other games we were on the road; we were at a disadvantage.”
That meant traveling to states like Missouri, Tennessee and Ohio just to be able to play a season. In spite of the challenges, the team persisted, and now they’re reaping the benefits.
Last month, the Puck Hogs claimed the Kentucky state championship for the first time in team history.
“It’s not even describable,” said Puck Hogs defenseman Kaleb Jones. “Just being with my teammates and having that laugh, hugging each other and holding each other. Just tears of joy; I loved it.”
“It’s really mind boggling, because I mean Owensboro, Kentucky, it’s not really a big place,” said Puck Hogs center Cole Stranathan. “You’d never think that we were going to have hockey in Owensboro.”
And now, Owensboro will be represented on the big stage. The Puck Hogs will compete in the USA Hockey National Tournament on April 29th in Dallas, Texas.
“It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears being put into it,” Jones continued. “That’s what our team’s all about is heart. That’s how we win.”
For a group made up of mostly eighth graders and high school freshman, navigating this past season has been no easy task. However, team manager Carrie Thompson said it’s a testament to just how hard they’ve worked.
“It’s a huge deal, and I think everything just looks up for these kids from this point moving forward,” Thompson said. “They’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”
For those interested in getting involved in youth hockey at the Edge Ice Center, click here.
(This story was originally published on April 1, 2021)