Build enthusiasm for hockey in the United States by wearing your favorite hockey sweater to school or work Friday, the first day of USA Hockey's second-annual "Hockey Weekend Across America."
USA Hockey has designated a theme for each of the three days. Friday's theme is "Favorite Hockey Jersey," presented by ShopUSAHockey.com. "Bring A Friend to the Rink," presented by the NHL, is Saturday's theme, while Sunday the theme will be "Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes," presented by Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports.
"After two incredibly successful years, Hockey Weekend Across America continues to be one of our most important initiatives," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "With the full support of the entire hockey community, this weekend will help us expand our game while properly honoring those who have brought us this far."
All NHL, minor professional, NCAA Division I and III men's and women's, United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League teams playing at home during Hockey Weekend Across America will receive Hockey Weekend Across America pucks to use as part of a ceremonial puck drop to help celebrate the event.
A full schedule of events can be accessed at HockeyWeekendAcrossAmerica.com. Fans can also find there material to download, including the event logo, poster and video and audio public-service announcements.
New for 2010 is the "Why Hockey Rocks" video contest. Fans can upload up to 60-second videos outlining why they believe hockey is the greatest sport. A total of 16 winners will receive a minimum of $300 in Reebok Hockey merchandise, while the overall winner will collect $2,500 in Reebok Hockey gear.
USA Hockey also is conducting a best Hockey Weekend Across America programming contest for its local associations across the country. The grand-prize winner will receive a voucher for $5,000 worth of Reebok Hockey gear. Additionally, four runners-up will receive $1,000 of Reebok Hockey goods. The entry forms can be obtained at HockeyWeekendAcrossAmerica.com.
USA Hockey is organizing a "Try Hockey for Free" event as part of Hockey Weekend Across America. All participating rinks are required to hold the free trial from 11 a.m.-noon local time. Over 135 rinks in 33 states have agreed to participate. The goal is to get as many first-time players on the ice and later transition them to the host site's full-time programs. To see which rinks are participating or to register your own rink, visit HockeyWeekendAcrossAmerica.com.
One of the best programs scheduled for this weekend includes a large group of disabled hockey players from all four disciplines (sled, deaf/hard of hearing, standing amputee and special hockey) who will visit all 54 rinks in the state of New Jersey in conjunction with Hockey Weekend Across America. Their goal will be to raise awareness for disabled hockey among disabled athletes and encourage rinks to support new or existing disabled hockey programs.
The participants will be honored Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., when the New Jersey Devils host the Los Angeles Kings at 5 p.m. ET.
Another top event is the Adirondack Ice Bowl, sponsored by Labatt Blue, the North Woods Inn and the Central Adirondack Association, a three-day pond-hockey tournament on Fourth Lake in Old Forge, N.Y. Four-man teams (no goalie) will contest at least three games before the medal rounds.
The Phoenix Coyotes, one of the biggest supporters of the inaugural Hockey Across America Weekend, again will support a strong program. Beginning with Saturday's home game against the New York Rangers at 6 p.m. MT, the team is sponsoring "24 Hours of Hockey" as part of Hockey Weekend Across America.
The event continues throughout the night and into Sunday, with a total of 15 consecutive youth and adult hockey games. All age groups will be represented at the event, which will end with a game featuring the Coyotes and NHL alumni at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Author: John McGourty | NHL.com Staff Writer