As a result of their local success, 12 youth hockey players qualified to compete at this year's Ace Bailey's Foundation Got Skills National Championships this summer at the Aviator Sports Complex in New York.
The player's registration fees benefit the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children committed to long-term hospital stays. The funds from the foundation go towards the building of unique "play sanctuaries" that allow children to escape the confinement of their rooms and take part in simple joys many take for granted.
Garnet "Ace" Bailey, played for 11 years in the NHL, winning two Stanley Cup championships with the Boston Bruins in 1970 and 1972. The "Ace's Got Skills" Program was founded in his memory after Ace died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 while flying to begin training camp as a scout for the Los Angeles Kings.
Seven of the 12 participants representing the Blue Jackets region this year placed in their event including two players who brought home national titles, Frankie Castrodale (Hardest shot) and Brad Truel (Accuracy).
Since its inception in 2004, the competition has united youth hockey players to test their skills in the categories of fastest skater, most accurate shot, most difficult shot, shoot out and best goalie. This year approximately 150 Squirt and Pee Wee hockey aged, local and regional competition winners from 12 states and Canada traveled to compete against their peers.
Participants from our area included:
Dakotah Marshall – Fastest Skater (3rd), Hardest Shot (3rd), Accurate Shot (3rd) Top Skills (T-2nd)
Daulton McElwain - Top Skills
Connor Liden – Shoot Out (3rd)
Chris Henestofel – Goalie (4th)
Clay Sakich – Hardest Shot (4th)
Matt Miller – Shoot Out
Matthew Halvorson – Goalie (2009 Peter Aquilone Memorial Award)
Nick Decker – Accurate Shot (3rd)
Pee Wee House
Cullen Blaney – Fastest Skater, Hardest Shot
Nathaniel Fowler – Accurate Shot
Taylor Blome – Goalie
Pee Wee Travel
Frankie Castrodale – Hardest Shot (Winner)
Brad Truel– Accurate Shot (Winner)
In addition, Squirt travel goalie, Matthew Halvorson, was awarded the 2009 Peter Aquilone Memorial Award for "perseverance in life through hockey" as a result of his inspiring triumphs in the sport despite dealing with major health challenges on a daily basis.
Story by Christina Synodinos