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Hockey Weekend Across America

Riley coaching legacy still strong at West Point

Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

The history of college hockey is replete with lengthy tenures by some of the game's great coaches. But for more than 60 years, one family has led the hockey program at the United States Military Academy at West Point. It's a lineage that has outlasted almost every other in the world of sports.

"We feel we have a great deal to offer a young man both on and off the ice. It's more about the opportunities than the challenges. That's what we try to focus on, the opportunities," Army coach Brian Riley said. "They're set up for success once they make that decision to come to West Point."

After serving 14 years in two stints as an associate and assistant coach, Brian Riley took over the Army program in 2004 from his older brother Rob, who led the Black Knights to 257 victories in 19 seasons at West Point. That's an impressive total for any coach at one program, but for Rob Riley, it's not even the most wins by a member of his own family.

That's because when the eldest Riley sibling took over the Army program in 1986, he succeeded his legendary father, Jack, whose 542 victories at West Point still rank 15th in college hockey history. Jack and Rob Riley are the winningest father/son pair in college hockey.

"Now that I can sit back and reflect, you do kind of say wow," Rob Riley said. "When you're in the middle of it, you don't even have time to realize it. There aren't that many guys who are at one place for 20 years. Then Brian comes in and adds more to that. It's something we're all very proud of."

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Sled hockey rejuvenates U.S. coach Sauer

Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jeff Sauer served as a college coach for over three decades, won two national championships and ended his career near the top of college hockey's all-time wins list.

He thought he'd seen it all as a mentor behind the bench until he received a call from USA Hockey three years ago asking him to consider coming out of retirement to coach the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.

"I kind of hesitated a little bit because I didn't know the players, didn't know what it was all about," Sauer told NHL.com. "But I'll tell you what. I was on the ice for 10 minutes and was hooked. The skill level is incredible and I'm in awe of what some of these guys can do.

"It just rejuvenated me as a coach."

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Cole relishing chance to coach against alma mater

Saturday, 03.01.2014 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Former NHL player and Stanley Cup champion Danton Cole can remember his college playing days as if they were yesterday.

Now head coach for the United States Under-18 National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., he has had March 1 circled on his calendar since the start of the season.

The fact his charges will battle his alma mater, Michigan State University, at Munn Ice Arena on the same day that USA Hockey celebrates "Try Hockey for Free" as part of its Hockey Weekend Across America campaign is an added bonus.

The game will be the final one for the U.S. U-18 NTDP against college competition this season. Cole has led his charges to a 7-8 mark against NCAA foes in 2013-14.

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Modano, Stars get behind Try Hockey for Free Day

Friday, 02.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

Twenty-one years ago, the Minnesota North Stars franchise took a leap of faith by leaving the State of Hockey for uncharted territory in Dallas. That's when Mike Modano took the lead on a grassroots campaign to educate Big D about the game, knowing full well the learning curve would be steep.

Fans grew to enjoy the speed and contact of the game over time, but they had a lot of help along the way. Stars public address announcers noted each time a whistle was blown for offsides or icing. According to Modano, it seemingly took 10 years to explain a plus-minus rating to the new hockey fans.

"Trying to explain the rules and offsides and icing, and people cheering when guys got penalties on our own team … just because they announced our team and our player, they cheered," Modano said. "There was a lot of crash-course teaching we had to do."

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Hockey Weekend Across America promotes growth

Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Calling all USA Hockey fans!

If you possess a jersey of your favorite American-born player or team, consider donning the old replica on Friday when Hockey Weekend Across America kicks off a three-day celebration of the sport throughout the United States.

"Hockey Weekend Across America is one of the marquee events on the calendar each year," USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said. "This year will be unique as we'll celebrate Hockey Weekend Across America the weekend immediately following the conclusion of the Olympic Winter Games."

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Blackhawks take time to skate with Warriors program

Saturday, 02.16.2013 / 5:51 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

"It was cool to be on the ice with them. They're so fast. You think they're fast when you're watching up in the stands, but on the ice level it's unbelievable. I'm definitely taking some memories from this, I'm sure." -- Army Lance Cpl. Josh Misiewicz

CHICAGO -- At first glance, it looked like the Chicago Blackhawks decided to hold an off-day skate at the outdoor rink located inside Soldier Field for this weekend's OfficeMax Hockey City Classic.

A closer look revealed something much different.

The Blackhawks were indeed out there Saturday morning in chilly temperatures, but they were not by themselves. Joining them, also wearing Blackhawks practice jerseys, were members of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, which trains and supplies injured servicemen and women with hockey equipment and skills to use the sport as a rehabilitation tool.

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Fort Benning soldiers finding outlet through hockey

Friday, 02.15.2013 / 2:21 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Sgt. Michael Wichmann wasn't expecting to find too many traces of his favorite sport when he reported to Fort Benning in Georgia to serve as a motors instructor. (Photo: Jacqueline Andrews)

After separate deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Sgt. Michael Wichmann wasn't expecting to find too many traces of his favorite sport when he reported to Fort Benning in Georgia to serve as a motors instructor. With thousands of servicemen training and working at the famous base, the Michigan-born Wichmann didn't foresee many hockey opportunities in the heart of the south.

The 23-year-old previously was stationed at Fort Benning in 2006 and, except for the nearby Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League, didn't recall much hockey being played. He was pleasantly surprised when he returned in 2011.

"They have two rinks here and one wasn't here in 2006," Wichmann told NHL.com. "So I really was surprised there was a lot of military members here who play hockey. It's not something that you run into on a military base. A lot of guys that you talk to don't even know what hockey is. There are about 35 of us on the Fort Benning team alone."

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Longtime friends capture pond hockey's top crown

Friday, 02.15.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

'13 POND HOCKEY JERSEYS

After three years of winning the 30-and-older silver division at the National Pond Hockey Championships in Eagle River, WI, the Waupun Wolves team from Waupun, WI, knew it was time to take a big step at the popular annual celebration of outdoor hockey.

So they made the jump to the tournament's gold division, the top tier in the weekend-long festivities in which hundreds of teams compete for titles in 16 different divisions.

"This was the first year we moved up to gold. Being over 30, we thought we were going to get smoked," Waupun's Cory Buchholz said. "We have one guy who played D-III college hockey and the rest of us played junior hockey, so we thought we weren't going to handle it too well."

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Minnesotans enjoy Hockey Day fesitivities

Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 2:49 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL -- While hockey fans in the United States were watching NBC's coverage of Hockey Day Across America today, fans in Minnesota were experiencing it first hand.

Just a long slap shot away from Xcel Energy Center, located in the heart of downtown St. Paul, Landmark Plaza was host to NBC's pregame coverage as well as a whole host of activities, all hockey-centric.

The festivities had already begun when Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire went on the air at 11 a.m. local time. USA Hockey's first youth American Development Model clinic got under way from the Wells Fargo Winterskate at 10 a.m., a refrigerated outdoor rink set in the middle of the park, surrounded by streets and skyscrapers.

The kids skating behind the NBC crew were mostly under 10 years old, with many in the 7-8-year-old range. Coaches on the ice were from USA Hockey, volunteering their time in an effort to spread the mission of the ADM, a program designed by USA Hockey to give kids more touches, more opportunities to play and to reduce costs for parents.

"Activities for all sports, not just hockey, are rising," said Terry Evavold of Sartell, Minn., the director of the ADM for Minnesota Hockey. "So we have to find a way to reduce those costs and get more kids playing."
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Red Wings enjoy Saturday practice in the park

Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 5:00 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- The fans lined up around the block, shivering and decked out in red and white, at least three hours before the main event began.

The scene was Clark Park on the West side of the Motor City, where an outdoor ice rink was prepared carefully all week long by Joe Louis Arena's ice guru, Al Sobotka -- whose work prepared the sheet for a special Detroit Red Wings practice on Saturday afternoon – which was the first time in eight decades the team held an outdoor practice in its own city.

"It was excellent," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought it was really good for the crowd. Kids seemed to have fun. For players it was fun, it was bright, it was good."

The only admission "cost" for the estimated 2,000-plus fans who showed up was a charitable donation. The Red Wings wound up collecting food items, nearly $2,000 worth for the Clark Park Coalition that runs the rink and used hockey equipment for Clark Park and Detroit Hockey Association's youth programs.
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Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares