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Military Kids Enjoy Unique Opportunity

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - Bright and early on Sunday morning, children from the ages of eight all the way up to eighteen made their way into Porrazzo Memorial Skating Rink in East Boston, with some skaters traveling more than an hour and a half up from Providence to participate in an on-ice clinic for children in military families.

The Bruins hosted the clinic with Defending The Blue Line, a non-profit organization that helps fund hockey expenses for children in military families, and provides an opportunity for children to stay involved with the sport and maintain a love for the game.

On hand to help run the clinic were Bruins Assistant Coach Geoff Ward and former Bruin Tommy Songin, along with Michael Moricas, the Regional Director for Defending The Blue Line in the Greater Boston and New England area. Moricas serves as an officer in the Rhode Island Army National Guard.

Moricas’ work with Defending The Blue Line began about a year and a half ago, and stemmed from his own experience as an active military member.

“I wanted to be a part of [the charity], because I know what it takes being a soldier myself and being deployed, and having your wife or husband being back at home and trying to take the kids to practice, and all of the time and costs involved,” he said.

Sunday’s clinic was one way to help provide the kids with a unique opportunity to learn from the Bruins staff. And being the first clinic of its kind held in the Northeast, Moricas was especially appreciative of the B’s assistance.

“It was a no brainer, it was mutually beneficial, a win-win for everybody,” said Moricas, on coordinating the clinic with the Bruins. “The kids are absolutely ecstatic.”

From the moment the kids entered the arena, it was high energy and excitement – and many smiles. They were greeted with bags filled with goodies including Bruins posters, tattoos, stickers and even their very own Defending The Blue Line jerseys.

Once on the ice, Ward and Songin led the kids in drills and a mini scrimmage. One of the kids, Evan from Rehoboth, MA showed just how much he was benefitting from his time on the ice.

“I was having a lot of fun, and I really like the part when we played the hockey game,” said Evan. Among other skills, the young skater learned how to master the crossover correctly, and said that his favorite part of hockey is the skating and his second part is “getting goals.”

It wasn’t just the kids who were having a great time at the clinic, though.

“It’s such a great charity - it’s for a good cause,” said Coach Ward. “The military does so much for us and it’s nice to be able to help give back.”

“It’s fantastic that the charity is heading this way now and to this part of the country, and hopefully it continues to grow.”

After their time on the ice, Coach Ward and Songin took time to take pictures and sign autographs. Each child left with keepsakes, smiles and a little more hockey knowledge than they came in with.

“The kids are great – they have such a riot out there,” said Ward. “Obviously, a lot of different skill levels – some have been playing hockey a lot and some are trying it for the first time. But they’re all having fun, and that’s the main part.”

Tina Scully, a member of the Air National Guard, and mother of clinic participant Kyle, summed up the parents’ appreciation.

“It’s wonderful,” she said, as she watched the clinic from the stands. “It’s just so nice that people come forward and do this for our military children.”

As the morning wound down, and many of the participants got ready to head to hockey games of their own, a spirited “Let’s Go Bruins!” cheer was a clear indication that everyone had benefited from the clinic.

---Colleen Heafey

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