Cranberry youth captain of district champion hockey team
CRANBERRY TWP — As a young girl, Teagan Hmel was faced with a decision.
Figure skating or ice hockey.
“I had started skating when I was 6 and by the time I was 8, I had to decide what direction I wanted to take,” Teagan said. “It was pretty easy. I love hockey.”
And Teagan, a Cranberry Township resident and now a Seneca Valley freshman, has stayed with hockey.
She’s played on five different youth teams over the years and now plays for the South Pittsburgh Rebellion 14U girls team — formerly known as the Southpoint Rink Rats. Theis is the Rebellion’s second season and the team’s home rink is Printscape in Southpointe.
Teagan plays defense and was named team captain this year by the coaching staff. The Rebellion recently won the USA Hockey Mid-Am District Tournament at the UPMC Lemieux Complex. That qualified the team to play in the 12-team USA Hockey National Championship tournament in Irvine, Calif., later this month.
“She is our team leader,” Rebellion coach Tony Mucci said. “Teagan is a gifted athlete and has a tremendously high hockey I.Q. She’s a super strong skater, which is why she plays defense. That’s where the best skaters play.”
“The coaches decided to pick me as captain and I’m honored by that,” Teagan said. “I take it seriously.”
Skating ability is at the top of Teagan’s game.
“She skates backwards extremely well,” Aaron Hmel, Teagan’s father, said. “It’s hard for opposing players to get around her.”
The Rebellion are 38-16-2 overall this season. The team has played weekend tournaments in Columbus, New Jersey, Erie and Buffalo, along with tourneys in the Pittsburgh area.
While Teagan has not scored a goal this season, she has 12 assists and her plus-minus figure of plus 23 in second highest on the team.
“I’m one of the faster players on the team and I like making long passes to set up plays,” Teagan said.
Entering the district tournament, the Rebellion were ranked 30th in the nation by myhockeyrankings.com. They defeated the 10th-ranked Steel City Selects, 1-0, in the Mid-Am tournament and went on to win all four of their games in that competition.
“Teamwork is our team’s best attribute,” Mucci said. “Everybody on this team gets along. Our atmosphere at games and practices is very good and Teagan has a lot to do with that.
“She is very passionate about the game. Everything she does on the ice, game or practice, is 100%. The other girls respond to that.”
The Rebellion play in the Athletic Girls Hockey Federation (AGHF). Other than playing coed hockey in local leagues when she was younger, Teagan has never played on a boys team.
She doesn’t plan to start.
“A lot of my friends play on the team and I enjoy spending time with them,” Teagan said. “Hockey is a great team-bonding activity and it keeps me active and healthy. I hope to be playing for a long time.”
Teagan is an Honor Roll student as a freshman, She’s also a member of Student Council, the German Club and Girl Scouts.