Pittsburgh Emperors


Our registration is open to boys and girls ages 5 to adult. No prior skating experience needed.

The Pittsburgh Emperors ice hockey program will be skating at:

The YMCA of the South Hills, 305 Church Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102

We practice on Saturday evenings from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm

View the NEW ice time schedule on the Schedule Tab.

Below you will find an excerpt from the Sports Illustrated article that is about people with autism embracing sports:

John Stevenson, the Pittsburgh welder, agrees. His sons, Tobias, 16, and Machaiah, 13, were diagnosed with autism shortly after birth. While both boys experienced developmental delays—Tobias didn’t speak until he was five and say Dad until he was seven—they were both fans of hockey, the Penguins in particular.

In 2014, John seized on an idea. He would apply for 501(c)(3) status and found a team for special-needs kids. The Pittsburgh Emperors started with eight members, including his sons. Only two could skate. Everybody learned, though, aided by a tranche of volunteer coaches. Within two months the team had swelled to 32 members, 18 of them with some form of ASD.

There was an unintentional benefit to choosing a sport held on a sheet of ice. Research suggests that those on the autism spectrum can struggle with temperature regulation problems. “I’ve noticed that it’s not a problem in a cold rink, the way it was to play soccer in humidity,” says Stevenson. By Stevenson’s admission, those kids are unlikely to make it to the NHL; but at least one athlete with autism might. Linus Söderström, a hulking 6' 5", 20-year-old goalie with surprising fluidity for his size, plays for HV71 in Sweden’s top league. The Islanders hold his NHL rights, having taken him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Söderström was the starting goalie for the under-20 teams at the last two IIHF world championships, leading Sweden to a silver medal in ’14 at the U-18s. This is all the more impressive given that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD at age seven.

Click here to read the full Sports Illustrated article.

Please take the time to read the article that USA Hockey wrote about the Emperors.

Please take the time to read the article that the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote about the Emperors.

Players, coaches and volunteers please go to the registration page and download the registration packets. These documents need to be filled out and handed in before taking the ice. Thank you for your cooperation.


Your donations will directly support the Pittsburgh Emperors program by providing money for ice time, equipment, and travel expenses. You will be helping children and adults with developmental disabilities to participate in something that is truly magical for them.

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