With 50 customized Warrior sticks in tow Sunday afternoon, Coyotes defenseman Jordan Oesterle dropped in at Oceanside Ice Arena for an offseason skate with youth players at Howler's 2nd Stride clinic.
Oesterle's partnership with New Balance-owned Warrior includes a grant for the purpose of giving back to a local organization of his choice, and in conjunction with Arizona Coyotes Hockey Development Program, the 27-year-old defenseman chose to provide a new stick for each player in the program.
"I've had the privilege of working with Warrior for the last couple of years now to bring some sticks to Arizona's youth hockey players," he said. "It's huge for me, it's good to help out the community. Anything that we can do as an organization to get out and help these kids is a benefit to me."
Each stick provided was scribed with Oesterle's name, matching both the flex and curve specs the six-year pro uses himself.
Howler's 2nd Stride consists of players who have graduated from the Little Howler's learn-to-play program, giving those who wish to a chance to continue to develop their skills before joining the next step program at their local rinks.
"It's always a cool experience for these kids to share the ice with one of their heroes from the Coyotes," said Matt Shott, the Coyotes' Director of Amateur Hockey Development. "We're fortunate to have some amazing players here in Arizona like Jordan who enjoy giving back to our community and growing our great game."
More valuable than the brand-new sticks themselves is the spark Oesterle's presence may have had on some of the young players, a boost of confidence and encouragement to keep playing the game.
"This group is our next wave of hockey players and hockey fans, they're the kids that want to continue playing and continue to improve their skills, and there's no better group to give back to than the kids that want to keep loving the sport of hockey," Shott added.
A change of pace, even for a pro, is refreshing. For Oesterle, Sunday's practice provided just that as he readies for his second season with Arizona.
"It's always fun," he said of skating with the next generation of players. "I enjoy going out with the kids on the ice, it takes you back to when you were that age and just playing for the love of the game, it's nice to see the smiles on these kids' faces."