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Washington Capitals to Celebrate Hockey is for Everyone™ Month

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals will celebrate the National Hockey League’s Hockey is for Everyone™ Month with several events and initiatives throughout February.

For the 17th year, the NHL has designated February Hockey is for Everyone™ Month to celebrate grassroots hockey and the game’s growing diversity. 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 their mainstream lifestyles.

The Capitals support of Hockey is for Everyone™ includes:

Feb. 8 The Capitals will host Hockey is For Everyone™ Day when the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center. Various local youth hockey programs will join in the festivities throughout the game. Neal Henderson, founder of the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the nation’s oldest minority hockey program, will participate in a ceremonial puck drop. The Caps flag tunnel and first intermission Mites on Ice will feature the College Park, Md., based Wells Warriors. The second intermission will consist of a special hockey skills challenge featuring players from local special hockey programs. Players from the University of Maryland hockey team will participate as ice crew. Prior to the game two local youth referees will meet with the on ice officials through the National Hockey League Officials Association (NHLOA) Zebras Care program.

Feb. 9 Forward Joel Ward will visit Fort Dupont Ice Arena, where he will skate with and provide instruction to children involved with Henderson’s Fort Dupont Cannons hockey program, the oldest diversity hockey program in the country. In December Ward presented a check in the amount of $26,000 on behalf of MSE Foundation to Fort Dupont. The funds are part of a grant from the Garth Brooks Troy Aikman Teammates for Kids Foundation. Fourteen Capitals players, including Ward, made pledges to the Teammates for Kids Foundation’s Top Shelf Teammates program. Every dollar contributed by players is tripled through an affiliation with other donors. The Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club is a development program that provides local and inner-city youth in Washington, D.C., the opportunity to participate in an organized ice hockey program.

Feb. 9 Jason Chimera will participate in a Flashes of Hope photo shoot at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. MSE Foundation and the Capitals will host pediatric cancer patients at practice. The children and their families will be treated to lunch, then participate in a photo shoot with the Caps players after practice. Flashes of Hope is a national nonprofit organization that changes the way children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses see themselves through the gift of photography.

Feb. 20 For the fifth-consecutive year the Capitals will team up with children’s charity Dreams for Kids to host an Extreme Recess Hockey Clinic at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for children with physical and developmental disabilities. Washington Capitals players will skate and play hockey with more than 100 participants.

Feb. 20 A Capitals player will visit Ashburn Ice House in Ashburn, Va., skating with the rink’s learn-to-play program.

Feb. 20-22 The Capitals will participate in USA Hockey’s Hockey Weekend Across America. On Friday, Feb. 20, fans are encouraged to wear their Capitals jersey to school and work during “Wear Your Favorite Jersey Day.” Saturday, Feb. 21 is “Try Hockey for Free Day” sponsored by the NHL. Hundreds of rinks nationwide will host Try Hockey For Free clinics presented by Kraft, allowing thousands of children to experience hockey for the first time. A complete list of participating rinks in the Washington, D.C., region will be announced in mid-February. Sunday, Feb. 22, is “Celebrate Local Hockey Hero’s Day,” which encourages all involved in the game to develop ways to honor their local hockey heroes.

Feb. 21 Kids Club members will be admitted to the Capitals game versus the New York Islanders one hour prior to opening for activities on the 400 level during Kids Club Day at Verizon Center. A game ticket is required for admission at the F Street entrance.

Feb. 23 The Capitals will host a High School Hockey Showcase presented by Hockey Giant. The event will take place at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Md. Two local high school matchups will vote to determine the teams. The Capitals will produce a highlight package, event recap, analysis and postgame interviews with both schools. Caps personalities and other special guests will also be in attendance. To vote, visit WashingtonCaps.com.

Feb. 24 A Capitals player will visit The Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Md., skating with the rink’s learn-to-play program.

Feb. 26 The Capitals will host two hockey schools in February, including one at the team’s adopted school, Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary in Washington, D.C. Hockey School is a free program, designed to be both instructional and interactive, with the goal of exposing students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique. Following the clinic the Capitals donate a set of street hockey equipment to the school.

In addition during the month of February, the Washington Capitals will sponsor the Capitals Cup High School Championships. The Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League, Maryland Student Hockey League, Mid-Atlantic Girls Hockey League and Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League will all conduct their respective playoff tournaments and the winners will receive the designation as “Capitals Cup” winners. The Washington Capitals and MSE Foundation will also provide championship hats and medals to the winning teams, with a trophy presentation from a Capitals alumnus.

HOCKEY IS FOR EVERYONE

Hockey is for Everyone™ (HIFE) is the official youth development program of the National Hockey League (NHL) and a component of The Biggest Assist Happens off the Ice™, the NHL’s social responsibility program that builds on the League's long-standing tradition of addressing important social issues in North America and around the world. HIFE provides support and unique programming to non-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering children of all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey. For more information, visit hockeyisforeveryone.NHL.com.

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