As part of the effort to include players in the conversation, one member from each team is named the Hockey is for Everyone ambassador. Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk elected to serve as the Hurricanes' representative and led the team's initiatives throughout February.
Some background: van Riemsdyk served as the Chicago Blackhawks' ambassador for the 2016-17 season and was also involved in the University of New Hampshire's outreach with the You Can Play Project. You can find further insight into van Riemsdyk's previous involvement here.
On January 31, TVR and fellow Canes blueliner Haydn Fleury kicked off Hockey is for Everyone Month by crashing Capital City Crew's last practice of the season, during which we learned van Riemsdyk wasn't a very fast skater after his first year of hockey.
Capital City Crew provides an opportunity for inner-city youth to play ice hockey through our partnerships with the Wake County Boys & Girls Clubs, Raleigh Youth Hockey Association (RYHA), and the Carolina Hurricanes. Learn more about the organization here.
You Can Play Night: Feb. 9
The Hurricanes hosted the first of five HIFE theme nights on February 9. Arguably the month's most prominent HIFE initiative, You Can Play Night promotes inclusivity and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, and celebrates athletes' skills and work ethics rather than focusing on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
For the second year in a row, a number of players chose to wrap their sticks for warmups with rainbow-colored Pride Tape.
The sticks were then signed and auctioned off, with all proceeds benefitting the You Can Play Project, which works to ensure locker rooms and sports venues are safe and free from homophobia.
The team recognized leaders and organizations that provide support for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families throughout the game. Melody Moezzi, an attorney, activist and award-winning author, dropped the ceremonial puck as a representative of Equality NC, the state's largest and oldest organization working for LGBTQ+ equality.
Justine Hollingshead, Chief of Staff to the Vice Chancellor and Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at NC State University, was honored as the Lenovo Hero of the Game.
Girls Hockey Night: Feb. 13
Recently, the Jr. Hurricanes U16 Girls went undefeated to win the U19 Philadelphia Freedom Cup, battling through five games with just 12 players. A true display of "girl power," this win is only the tip of the iceberg that is the growth of girls hockey in North Carolina.
Exhibit B: Colleen Murphy, National Women's Hockey League defenseman and Cary native. Murphy, who began her hockey career on roller skates, was drafted by the Buffalo Beauts earlier this season and has recorded one assist in 12 NWHL games. Murphy sounded the warning siren to kick off Girls Hockey Night, promoting inclusion in hockey regardless of gender.
The remainder of the game's honorees and highlights represented the future of the area's girls hockey programs. Mikayla Williams, a goalie for the Jr. Canes U11 AAA team, was the RE/MAX Youth Starter of the Game.
The Jr. Canes U10 and U12 girls teams kept the hockey going through the intermissions, showcasing their scrimmage and shootout skills.
Triangle Special Hockey Association Night: Feb. 16
Midway through the month, the Canes honored the work of the Triangle Special Hockey Association, which works "to educate, motivate and encourage individuals who have … disabilities to participate in the sport of ice hockey."
Eight members of the Triangle Special Hockey Association welcomed the team to the ice for the second period, and Canes goalie Cam Ward's son Nolan, who is deaf, was honored as the RE/MAX Youth Starter of the Game.
Triangle Special Hockey Association founders and founding participants were named the Lenovo Heroes of the Game.
Since June 2007, the TSHA has provided kids and adults the opportunity to grow and "be more successful both within and outside a hockey environment," and currently enrolls more than 40 children. Fully donor funded and volunteer operated, TSHA provides programming at little or no cost to the athletes or their families. The Kids 'N Community Foundation has donated more than $90,000 to the Triangle Special Hockey Association through its Future Canes grant program.
Triangle Sled Hockey Association Night: Feb. 18
Backing up a bit, the Hurricanes honored seven-year-old Rosie McRackan as the Remax Youth Starter of the Game at the start of the month on Feb. 6.
Rosie is a member of the Triangle Special Hockey Association's youth sled hockey program. Learn more about her below!
Video: Hockey Is For Everyone: Rosie
Triangle Sled Hockey Association Night was paired with Military Appreciation Night, so when the Carolina Sled Hockey team took the ice for an intermission game …
… it was no surprise that No. 84 Rob Pickel, a former Green Beret and 20-year veteran of the US Army, made it his time to shine.
Capital City Crew Night: Feb. 23
Capital City Crew bookended Hockey is for Everyone Month, sharing top billing with the Homegrown Series and highlighting the importance of socioeconomic inclusion in hockey. Working with kids aged 8-14, the program seeks to teach lessons both on and off the ice, focusing on positive character traits and reaching full potential as athletes and citizens.
In a display of true Homegrown hockey, the Crew treated fans to an intermission scrimmage, and showed off the skills they'd learned from HIFE ambassador Trevor van Riemsdyk and Haydn Fleury.
The team met up with Sebastian Aho and other players for a postgame meet-and-greet and autograph session.
Wrapping up another successful month of sharing the importance of inclusion and diversity in the hockey community, take a peek at what You Can Play Night and Hockey Is For Everyone Month means to the players.
For more information on all of the Carolina Hurricanes' community initiatives, click here.