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Jun. 13—Beau Ritson is no stranger to high-level youth hockey as a member of the Pens Elite travel program.

The 11-year-old Monroeville resident now is gearing up for play as part of Team Pennsylvania at a top-flight youth tournament in Las Vegas on July 6-9.

The Kings of Vegas tournament was born out of several cancellations last summer and this spring because of the covid pandemic.

Now, the team members, including Ritson, are ready to show what they can do on a national stage.

“It’s nice to be able to have this tournament and prepare for it,” said Ritson, who is looking forward to swimming and playing mini golf with his Team Pennsylvania teammates in addition to bringing home a tournament title.

The 2010 birth year team originally was selected through invitational tryouts in late 2019 for play last summer in Edmonton, the traditional Canadian location of The Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament, one of the top tournaments in the world for 10-year-old players.

Past tournaments have hosted many players who eventually make their mark in the National Hockey League.

Team Pennsylvania’s trip to Canada last July was scrapped, but tournament officials decided to give the 14 teams an opportunity to come to Edmonton to play this month.

Those plans, however, were called off in late April because of ongoing travel restrictions to Canada. Officials from the seven U.S.-based teams decided to come together and form their own tournament.

“I was really mad and disappointed it was canceled last summer,” Ritson said. “You really weren’t allowed to go anywhere.”

In addition to Team Pennsylvania, U.S. teams are Team Minnesota, Western Selects, Chicago Jr. Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Connecticut Jr. Rangers and Boston Junior Bruins.

Team Pennsylvania is formed with a regional player pool from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, southern New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Each team is allowed three imports. Team Pennsylvania, in additional to its domestic members, selected a player from Ottawa, making it truly an international venture.

Several of the Western Pennsylvania players, along with Ritson, are members of Pens Elite.

The team comes together each year, in part, through a partnership between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, normally bitter rivals on NHL ice.

“That helps keep the costs down,” said Shawn Ritson, Beau’s father.

Both team logos appear on each jersey. There are four players from the Philadelphia area and eight others from the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania region.

“We put those rivalries aside, and we all get along,” Beau Ritson said.

“Every once in a while, we talk about whose team beat who in the (Stanley Cup) playoffs or who didn’t make it to the playoffs. But it is mostly about making friends and coming together as a team.”

Team Pennsylvania first gathered for competition last month, finishing second to the Chicago Jr. Blackhawks at a showcase tournament at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

Team Pennsylvania and four of the other U.S. teams were set to gather last Friday through Sunday in Chicago at the Chicago Blackhawks practice facility to play additional games in preparation for the Las Vegas tournament.

“You’re bringing in all of the top kids from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia,” Beau Ritson said.

“We also have a kid from Ottawa who is pretty good. I like our team. We’re doing pretty good.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, or via Twitter .