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Hockey unites cultures on Long Island

by Andrew LeRay / New York Islanders

Charles B. Wang’s Project Hope bringing pee-wee teams from China, Finland and Japan to compete with tri-state area squads
UNIONDALE, NY, January 14, 2011 – For the fourth straight year, pee-wee hockey players from across the globe will descend upon Long Island to play other talented teams in the Lighthouse Youth Hockey International Tournament. Games will take place at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum from Friday, Jan. 21 through Sunday, Jan. 23 between the times of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. The finalists will compete in the championship game at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, prior to the New York Islanders game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Charles B. Wang’s Project Hope charity and the Islanders Children’s Foundation fund this unique international tournament with the goal of creating opportunities for cultural exchange through youth hockey events and by promoting Project Hope Scholarship placements in the United States.

“Each year we look forward to this tournament, bringing the different teams from various countries to Long Island,” Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. “The event shows how the sport of hockey is growing in numerous areas around the world.”

The weekend tournament will feature eight pee-wee teams, including the Ilves Islanders from Finland, Team China, Team Japan, the Westchester Mariners, the Nassau Islanders, the Nassau Lions, Team Rinx and Team Suffolk. Each team will participate in on-ice ceremonies prior to the Islanders’ games against the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 20 and Jan. 23, respectively.

By working closely with local and provincial officials in the cities of Harbin and Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, China, the Islanders have embarked upon an unprecedented multi-faceted educational initiative that will undoubtedly change the lives of young athletes forever.

Since Project Hope was founded in 2004, more than 25 rinks have been built in China and thousands of sets of ice hockey equipment have been donated. Along with the addition of facilities and equipment, clinics have been set-up throughout China to help further the skills of young Chinese players. Prior to the formation of Project Hope, there were approximately 2,000 youth hockey players in a country whose population totals over one billion. Since Project Hope began its efforts to build the sport of hockey in China, there are six times as many young Chinese athletes playing hockey.

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