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Hockey Weekend Across America

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.

North Stars alums still part of Minnesota hockey community

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 1:27 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With Hockey Weekend Across America in full swing, the people of Minnesota go about their business as usual.

That's because in Minnesota, hockey is the business.

"It's not just a sport -- it's a way of life," said Reed Larson, a Minnesota native and member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Larson played three years for Herb Brooks at the University of Minnesota and was named one of the 50 greatest Gophers of all-time. Drafted by the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints in 1974 and the Detroit Red Wings in 1976, Larson chose to go the NHL route. Between 1976 and 1990, he played in more than 900 games with five NHL teams, including his hometown North Stars.

NBC, NBC Sports Network to show nine hours of NHL action on HDIA

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 10:56 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America


Nine hours of hockey, including five games with playoff implications, highlight Hockey Day in America presented by McDonald's on NBC and NBC Sports Network this Sunday.

Part of Hockey Weekend Across America presented by Reebok, the day will start with a tripleheader of regional action on NBC, which will be followed by a nationally broadcast tilt between the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and the Minnesota Wild (3:30 p.m. ET) and a nightcap featuring the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens on NBC Sports Network (6 p.m. ET).

HWAA has LaFontaine remembering his hockey roots

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 10:01 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"I remember going on there with double-runners on and falling all the time. It looked so easy and I actually began crying to get off the ice. My dad would take my brother and me by the hands and kind of windmill us around with the blades on so that we got that feeling of going really fast. That's when I really had my mind set on learning how to skate." -- Pat LaFontaine

Pat LaFontaine's love for ice hockey began similarly to any other American with a dream of making it big one day.

It's one reason why he looks forward to Hockey Weekend Across America each season.

"To celebrate the game and bring out more awareness to some boys, girls and parents who might not know the game as well, and introduce it to them, it's a great thing," LaFontaine told NHL.com. "Hockey has been celebrated in Canada for as long as I can remember, but when you think of our hockey history, I feel it's just as important for the United States to celebrate, as well."

LaFontaine went on to recall gold medals won by the U.S. Olympic Team in 1960 and 1980.

HWAA continues to build grassroots interest in U.S.

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 9:48 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"We want to get more kids on the ice to play, teach them how to play better and get them to love the game and play it longer. Hockey in America is growing and getting better." -- Dave Ogrean

Any hockey fan possessing a jersey of their favorite American-born player should consider donning it Friday when Hockey Weekend Across America kicks off a three-day celebration of the sport throughout the United States.

"Hockey Weekend Across America has been a success because of the vast participation of the hockey community -- from those in our grassroots programs across the country to the NHL and its teams," said USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean.

Young officials to be honored during HWAA

Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 9:06 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jake Wojnicki needed some cash -- "a primary source of income," as he put it.

As a 13-year-old, Wojnicki's monetary prospects were limited - but as it turned out, he needed to look no further than his local hockey rink. Already an avid player, the Escondido, Calif., resident took a hammer to his piggy bank, paid the registration fee and joined the San Diego Hockey Referee Association. A year later, he had earned his certification and traded his player's sweater for referee's stripes.

Six years on, Wojnicki, now 19, officiates Tier II U-18 games while earning his education at Thomas Edison University. On Saturday, Wojnicki will get to Staples Center a couple of hours ahead of the Kings 7:30 p.m. PT puck drop against the Calgary Flames -- and will get a chance to meet the titans of his trade: an NHL officiating crew. 

Ogrean ready for Hockey Weekend Across America

Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 8:03 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America


While the number of events taking place during Hockey Weekend Across America are massive in scope, the message surrounding it is simple.

"Get more people to play the game and to make the game safer," USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said, appearing as a guest on Thursday night's "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman."

In its fifth year, HWAA commences Friday with "Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey Day," followed by "Try Hockey Day" on Saturday, with Ogrean estimating about 200 rinks in 41 states across the country offering free clinics that will introduce upwards of 4,000 kids to the game.

Sabres to host Willie O'Ree Skills Weekend

Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 7:51 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's that time of year again: Hockey Weekend Across America, the annual celebration of the sport in arenas around the continent. But for more than 50 youngsters who will descend on western New York, it signifies something much more important -- a chance to grow as hockey players and individuals.

The Buffalo Sabres organization, in cooperation with Hasek's Heroes, will host the 2012 Willie O'Ree Skills Weekend, bringing youth hockey standouts from organizations throughout North America together to test their skills, make new friends and prove once again that hockey is for everyone.

The players -- who will be recognized for their achievements on the ice, in the classroom and in the community -- include Kaseir Archie, who at 15 has been playing hockey for three years. The Philadelphia resident told NHL.com he "signed up for fun" at the prodding of a coach at local recreation center, but has since grown to love the game.

Wings contribute to HWAA with '24 Hours of Hockey'

Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 5:36 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- They're planning to make the term "Hockeytown" a literal definition this weekend in the Motor City.

Ice hockey is already a big part of the sports culture all over the Detroit area and across the state of Michigan, but USA Hockey's annual "Hockey Weekend Across America" effort to promote the sport in the U.S. gave the Detroit Red Wings an easy reason to help out with the cause.

That's how this weekend's "24 Hours of Hockey" at Joe Louis Arena came about. Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday -- following the Red Wings' game against the Nashville Predators -- the ice surface at "The Joe" will be filled with the sound of the game being played, taught and introduced to beginners for a 24-hour period.

USA hockey took off after 'Miracle,' Gretzky to LA

Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 3:45 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The "Miracle on Ice" gave birth to a new generation of hockey superstars in the USA. (Photo: Getty Images)
They grew up on 1980, on Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig and Herb Brooks. They grew up on a shot and a dream that unbelievably came true.

That Olympic tournament in Lake Placid 32 years ago, that historic win by the rag-tag group of American kids led by one of the hardest-driving coaches on the planet, sent the United States into a euphoric celebration that gave birth to a new generation of hockey superstar in the country.

Jeremy Roenick. Brian Leetch. Brett Hull. Mike Modano. Chris Chelios. Doug Weight. Bill Guerin. Mike Richter. And the list goes on.

They were all kids of 1980; the generation after the origination. And today, as the sport is celebrated throughout the country with Hockey Weekend Across America, they are the revered stewards for the current generation of American stars and future millionaires and champions to be.

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