Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Penguins turned around a once-disappointing season and fired a coach before winning a fourth Stanley Cup, adversity that seemed to make Wednesday's city-wide celebration that much sweeter.

Gordie Howe, whose record-setting five-decade professional hockey career earned him the nickname "Mr. Hockey," has died at 88. The Detroit Red Wings confirmed his death on Twitter.

Game 6 'Ultimate Test' In Pens' Quest For Stanley Cup

May 23, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP Images

For a Pittsburgh sports fan, the Monday afternoon blues are all too familiar following a Steelers loss on a Sunday.  Today’s Monday blues are brought to you by the blue and white, or rather, the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose quick overtime rally them to defeat the Penguins 4-3 to lead the series 3-2 Sunday night. 

Bob Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus, joined Essential Pittsburgh to discuss this playoff series and the Penguins’ chances of a Cup run. 

Joey Gannon / Flickr

It takes a little over 15 hours to drive from Pittsburgh to Tampa but it takes less than 15 minutes for two cities to engage in a Pens-vs-Lightning, bridge-boasting, our-city-is-better-than-yours Twitter battle.

Here’s how it all began:

Pittsburgh was quick to respond, already anticipating the upcoming exchange:


@CityPGH corrected @CityofTampa's false presumption that was cold in the 412:

Then the bridge banter began:

RMU Hockey Forward And Hobey Baker Award Nominee Zac Lynch

Mar 25, 2016
Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University hockey star Zac Lynch is a top ten finalist for college hockey’s version of the Heisman Trophy, the Hobey Baker Award. But rather than waiting for his name to be called, Zac is trying out with the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates, the top affiliate of the NHL's Florida Panthers. He joins us to talk about his stellar college career and Pittsburgh's pipeline to the Nattional Hockey League.  

Does Offering Free Contraceptives Violate Religious Freedom?

Mar 24, 2016
Jacquelyn Martin / AP Images

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week putting faith-based groups’ rights to adhere to religious doctrine up against a woman’s right to access free birth control. We’ll discuss Zubik vs. Burwell with University of Akron law professor Wilson Huhn.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh voted Thursday to take the next step in converting the Hunt Armory in Shadyside into an indoor ice rink.

Johnstown Is Hockeyville USA, Today, Tomorrow, Forever

Sep 29, 2015
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

When the Pittsburgh Penguins take the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening at the historic Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, PA, the experience will be anything but ordinary.  The match, along with several other special events, represents the small town’s contest win and the designation as “Hockeyville, USA.”   

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen this town with this kind of buzz,” Johnstown Tomahawks play-by-play announcer Rick Hull told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.  “People are so happy and it’s just a celebration of Johnstown hockey in general. I don’t think anything could pull the plug on that.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Along with national bragging rights, winning the designation of Hockeyville USA brings with it $150,000 dollars to upgrade the local hockey venue, which in the case of the 65-year-old Cambria County War Memorial Arena was much needed.

“There have been probably been about 20 plus years or so since any real substantial upgrades have happened at this building,” said Johnstown Tomahawks Director of Media and Communications, Chad Mearns. “These improvements came at a very crucial time for this city, at a crucial time for this building. Pretty much any direction that you look, even if you don’t realize it, you see something that has some sort of change, some sort of improvement this summer.”

'The Look Up Line' Aims To Improve Hockey Safety

Aug 4, 2015

“It’s not about a line, it’s about a life,” says our guest Tom Smith. The inventor of the Look Up Line and creator of the Thomas E. Smith Foundation, has fulfilled his life mission of making the game of hockey safer. We’ll discuss Smith’s hockey experiences as well as the long lasting impact he hopes to have on the hockey community.

Iceoplex At South Pointe Aims To Decrease Athlete Injuries

Jul 28, 2015

The Iceoplex at South Pointe melts it's ice, not only for summer maintenance, but for safety.  A new safety feature being installed will allow athletes to look toward a bright orange future and hopefully reduce hockey injuries. Director of Marketing and Sponsorships for Iceoplex, Mandi Pryor, joins us with a look at this innovation in safety that could change the game of hockey.

jmd41280 / Flickr

Much needed improvements to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown will soon be underway, thanks to the town’s recently acquired title of Kraft Hockeyville USA.

Johnstown knocked out Decatur, Ill., in the final round in May to win the contest’s inaugural title. The prize includes the opportunity to host an NHL preseason hockey game at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, as well as $150,000 in rink updates.

John Marino / Wikipedia

The end of a three-year agreement between the Port Authority and the Steelers and Rivers Casino corporations that enabled T riders to reach Allegheny Station free of charge may upset the transit system's free fare zone. Without funds from either organization, the Port Authority must either pick up the tab itself or start charging riders who use the T stop to attend sporting events. Alex Zimmerman has been covering the story for the City Paper and joins us to discuss the issues surrounding the suspension of the deal. 

Zimmerman says the change is due, in part, to the Port Authority's desire to separate subsidies from advertising rights for the two stations on the North Shore:

"Port Authority went to [the subsidizing entities] and said 'We're happy to continue our agreement with you, but we want to retain ad rights.' ... The Steelers and casino aren't saying much about what their negotiating position is." -- Alex Zimmerman

Also in the program, local entrepreneur Mont Handley describes the peat moss substitute that he invented, Margaret J. Krauss tells an untold story about Pittsburgh during WWII, and Johnstown Tomahawks representative Chad Mearns talks about Johnstown's recent recognition as "Hockeyville USA."

Jon Dawson / Flickr

Detroit is known as "Hockeytown USA," but could Johnstown claim the title of “Hockeyville USA?”

That depends on if it receives enough votes, according to Chad Mearns, director of marketing and communications for the Johnstown Tomahawks.

Drury Brought Pittsburgh First Winter Olympic Medal in 1924

Feb 11, 2014
Heinz History Center

During the first Winter Olympics in 1924, defenseman and Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets player Herb Drury brought home a silver medal for the U.S. Olympic Hockey team. In the games, Drury scored 22 goals and 3 assists for Team USA.

His career and many Olympic artifacts are memorialized in the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Anne Madarasz, director of the sports museum, says the exhibit features some of Drury’s medals as well as historical photographs highlighting Pittsburgh, specifically Duquesne Gardens, as a main stop for players who wanted to be recruited for professional teams. 

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County held a pep rally in the courtyard of the County Courthouse Friday in anticipation of the Penguins facing off against the Boston Bruins Saturday in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The rally had a carnival-like atmosphere with games, prizes, face paintings, Penguins-themed sugar cookies and performances from Pittsburgh musicians Freddie Nelson and the Kardasz Brothers. WDVE’s Val Porter hosted the event and pulled people on stage to participate in contests for best-dressed Penguins fan, best Penguins cheer, best Penguins sign and best player look-alike.