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Hockey is for Everyone

Jablonski carried through tough times by hockey

Friday, 02.15.2013 / 1:00 PM / Hockey is for Everyone

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. - The eight jerseys hung against the glass at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center, bright red with white piping and names on the back. Those names won't be forgotten anytime soon in this bustling Twin Cities suburb.









It was senior night Tuesday at Benilde-St. Margaret's School, a small private school 15 minutes west of downtown Minneapolis. Here, those names will go down as a group that not only won a state championship as juniors, but came back to defend that title this season as seniors.

Hockey prodigy Dunne blazing a trail

Wednesday, 02.13.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Earlier this month, 15-year-old Jincy Dunne took a spill while playing with the boys high school team at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis. While cutting across the ice in a game, she collided with another player and sustained a concussion, forcing her off the ice.

You should see the other guy.

"I flipped over top of him and hit my head. He broke his femur," said Dunne, whose own high school doesn't have a hockey team, sparking some jealousy from friends when she began playing at Westminster. "[People asked], 'Why did you choose that team? Why not play for us?' We knew the coach and my brother knows the coach's son and he asked, so we said sure."

The Missouri hockey product has been making a lot of headlines lately, and not just for playing on a high school boys team as a 15-year-old. The 5-foot-6 defenseman also suits up with players years older than her -- including her older sister, Jessica -- as a member of the St. Louis Lady Blues 19U club. But her introduction to the hockey world may have come in January, when she helped lead the U.S. under-18 team to a silver medal at the U-18 Worlds in Finland.

Paralysis hasn't stopped Arlen from making mark

Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Michael Blinn - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's hard to keep Victoria Arlen down. It's even more difficult to keep up with her.

The 18-year-old high school senior from Exeter, New Hampshire, is already an accomplished hockey player, swimmer, model and motivational speaker.

And she does it all without the use of her legs.

Karega follows unique path to be hockey ambassador

Monday, 02.11.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

Tarasai Karega isn't the only child who was turned on to hockey by Disney's 1992 film, "The Mighty Ducks." But as a young African-American girl growing up in Detroit, it wasn't Charlie Conway or Adam Banks -- the team's two fictional star players -- that she emulated.

"Jesse [Hall, played by actor Brandon Adams] stood out to me because he was the only black kid on the team," Karega said. "I'd tell my mom I wanted to play hockey and she did some research on organizations in Detroit."

It was a pivotal, if unlikely, turning point for an important hockey ambassador.

Often the only African-American female player on her teams growing up, Tarasai Karega persevered to win a national title and now mentors youth through Ed Snider's foundation. (Photo: Tarasai Karega)

Karega began playing with the Detroit Dragons of the Detroit Hockey Association, an organization affiliated with the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone program. Later, as a star at Cranbrook-Kingswood School in suburban Bloomfield Hills, MI, she was named Michigan's Ms. Hockey in 2005 and scored the game-tying goal and double-overtime winner in the clinching game of the state championship tournament.

From there, Karega enjoyed a standout career at Amherst College, where she was named first-team All-NESCAC as a sophomore and led the school to its first NCAA Division III women's national championship in her senior year. She graduated with a 3.43 grade-point average and a desire to impart the on- and off-ice skills she developed through hockey.

"I've played since I was nine, and it's taught me how to manage various aspects of my life," Karega said. "Time management is a big aspect of what I do, and playing hockey taught me that."

Since graduating in 2009, Karega has been on a mission to share her love for hockey. She started doing that through her work with the Alaska Diversity Hockey Camp, a Wasilla-based camp founded by Scott Gomez and featuring DHA president Will McCants as well as Willie O'Ree, the man who famously broke the NHL color barrier with the Boston Bruins in 1958.

Military veteran Sweeney shines for national sled team

Friday, 02.08.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

Thousands of disabled people have fallen in love with sled hockey, an exciting and popular Paralympic sport with professional leagues spanning the globe.

One of those players is U.S. Marine Sergeant Josh Sweeney.

A native of Phoenix, Ariz., Sweeney played roller hockey in junior high then progressed to ice hockey during high school. He fell in love with the game; the camaraderie, the physical toll and the adrenaline rush.

"I was more of a bang-into-someone-to-get-the-puck type of player," Sweeney said. "I filled that role and had a lot of fun doing it."

Hockey took a backseat when Sweeney filled a new role, this time as a member of the United States Marine Corps on the front lines in Afghanistan. During his second deployment -- his first was in Spain -- he lived on forward operating bases, places where Sweeney says he was "in direct contact with the enemy."

Bueckert, YWAM bring hockey to kids around globe

Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Deborah Francisco - NHL.com Staff Writer

Seven years ago, Prince George, British Columbia, native Glen Bueckert and his wife, Lorrain, sold their small business and moved to Vancouver with the dream of starting a not-for-profit organization that would make hockey more accessible to kids all over the world. Thus, Youth With A Mission Hockey was born.

"So far we've been all across Russia, into Eastern China, through Finland, in Alaska and in Western Canada," Bueckert told NHL.com.

Since the Bueckerts established YWAM Hockey in 2005, they have facilitated hockey camps and clinics for thousands of kids who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to enjoy the hockey camp experience. In an upcoming trip to Russia, YWAM Hockey will play against and coach up to 1,000 players.

"One big difference between YWAM Hockey and other hockey organization is that YWAM Hockey is run by volunteers, including my wife and I," Bueckert said. "Because we are volunteers, the main motive for us is that we love kids and we love hockey. We want to give kids the opportunity to experience a hockey camp. Our bottom-line motive is not financial, it's because we love the kids."

Sauer brings hockey to deaf, paralyzed individuals

Wednesday, 02.06.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jeff Sauer spent decades coaching men's hockey at Colorado College and the University of Wisconsin, winning nearly 500 games and two national championships, but these days he finds himself rejuvenated and his love for the game strong as ever through his work with both the United States Deaflympics and the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.

Sauer, who began his collegiate coaching career more than 40 years ago as an assistant to the legendary "Badger" Bob Johnson, is in the process of putting together a team to play at the World Deaf Championship in Finland at the end of March. He first became involved with the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association when it was established back in the 1970s by Chicago Blackhawks great Stan Mikita, and has been marveling at the accomplishments of its players ever since.

War veteran Bowser helping through hockey

Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Sgt. 1st Class Joe Bowser had a difficult decision to make in 2004 after serving in a transportation unit in Balad, Iraq. After a rocket was fired into his unit, shrapnel hit the calcaneus bone in his right heel forcing him to undergo roughly 14 operations before being offered a tough proposition by doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"The doctor came in and gave me the option to either salvage the leg, be in pain the rest of my life and basically drag a leg I really couldn't operate, or I can have it amputated," said Bowser, who currently works as a staff assistant to Secretary of the Army John McHugh. "My first thought was I want to play hockey again, so I'm going to have it whacked off. I basically had it cut off so I could play hockey."

Finding a local hockey game wasn't easy at first, but by 2007 Bowser was named to the U.S. National Amputee Team. From there, he helped to spearhead the growth of the U.S.A. Warriors Ice Hockey team, a program designed to assist military veterans who have sustained injuries while serving abroad. For the growing number of veterans participating in the program, it provides a competitive outlet as well as a vital rehabilitation tool.

"Our biggest injuries are the ones you can't see. The TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury], the PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder]. We've got some guys that skate with us on the U.S.A. Warriors ice hockey team that are in that situation," said the 53-year-old Bowser. "It's such a great opportunity to just be able to skate together and tell your war stories in the locker room. The first time I stepped on the ice after being wounded was the greatest feeling ever. I felt like I was normal again."

Burke took up brother's cause after his passing

Monday, 02.04.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Just weeks before his death in an auto accident, Brendan Burke, the student manager for the Miami University hockey team and son of long-time NHL general manager Brian Burke, had made the brave decision to speak out against homophobia in sports. Following his brother's passing, Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke decided to take Brendan's cause even further.

The result of Patrick Burke's relentless work is the You Can Play Project, one of the fastest-growing volunteer initiatives in sports. Burke co-founded the project in 2011 along with marketing expert Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman, the founder of GForce Sports, a sports organization that advocates on behalf of gay and lesbian athletes.

"In the wake of my brother's accident, I decided I'm doing something," Patrick Burke, who got to know Kitts and Witman while participating in a public forum at Denver University, said. "I moderated this forum at Denver University. At the end of it I turned to Glenn and I said, 'I don't care if you like me or not, you guys are stuck with me now.'"

Almost immediately, Burke began reaching out to his friends in the hockey community, including his father and NHL players Andy Miele and Tommy Wingels, both of whom had befriended Brendan Burke while playing at Miami. With their signature message informing all athletes that "if you can play, you can play," the program made its mark with a video in which many of the NHL's top players voiced their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes.

February sees Hockey is for Everyone mark 15 years

Friday, 02.01.2013 / 1:25 PM / Hockey is for Everyone


The National Hockey League and its 30 clubs will be hosting a month's worth of activities in February revolving around the Hockey is for Everyone campaign, which celebrates grassroots hockey and the growing diversity of the game.

Now in its 15th year, the program offers children of all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey and leverages the sport of hockey as a catalyst to teach essential life skills and the core values of hockey: commitment, perseverance and teamwork. In addition, the initiative supports hockey programs that assist disabled military personnel in returning to active, mainstream lifestyles.

"Hockey is for Everyone Month is an extraordinary initiative for the NHL and an opportunity to show our continuing support for youth hockey and disabled hockey in North America," said Ken Martin, Jr., NHL Vice President of Community Affairs and Diversity Programming. "On behalf of the NHL and the Member Clubs, we are proud to present these grassroots programming initiatives and look forward to participating and exploring additional opportunities for more people of all backgrounds to play our great sport."

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