The Islanders are welcoming two youth hockey teams from China for a special visit during the holiday season. Young athletes from the Chinese cities of Harbin and Qiqihar arrive in North America tomorrow to participate in the prestigious Bell Capital Cup Youth Hockey Tournament.
The teams of 9-11 year olds are the Red Stars from Harbin, where the Islanders have had a branch office since 2004, and the Snow Leopards from Qiqihar, one of the oldest cities in Northeast China. Islanders general manager Mike Milbury visited both cities during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
"This trip simply would not have been possible without the support and help that we have had from so many important friends of the Islanders organization," Milbury said. "It is at the personal invitation of Roy Mlakar, President of the Ottawa Senators, that we began working to bring the teams over from China. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Roy for initiating all of this. Stan Pesnar and Paul Packer did an outstanding job organizing an event that raised nearly $80,000 for the New York Islanders Children's Foundation to fund the trip. We have had tremendous support from other clubs throughout the NHL and particularly from Nike-Bauer. Thank you to all of you who are making this possible."
Chris Zimmerman, CEO of Nike-Bauer Hockey, has become an enthusiastic partner in the Islanders' Hockey for China initiative. Each of the 34 student athletes making the trip from China will receive a full kit of new equipment as a gift from Nike-Bauer. The company has donated an additional 300 sets of brand new equipment that have been sent directly to China to support youth hockey programs there.
Islanders owner Charles Wang,added, "Mike came back from his visit to China last year with a determination to make something happen for these kids. He has worked hard, raising money and making sure that a lot of people had an opportunity to contribute to the experience that they will have. Thanks also to our partners throughout the NHL whom Mike has been working with."
The Islanders would like to thank the NHL teams who stepped forward with contributions to finance the trip including the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues and, of course, Ottawa Senators.
In addition to their participation in the Bell Capital Cup, the teams will attend the December 30, 2005 Islanders-Senators game at the Corel Centre in Ottawa. Following the tournament, they will travel to New York to spend some time with the Islanders before returning to China. The schedule in New York includes an opportunity to see some of the sights in New York and to attend the Islanders' January 4, 2006 game against the Florida Panthers when the youth players will line up with Islanders and Panthers players for the national anthem.
Newyorkislanders.com is the place to receive the latest updates on the progress of Harbin and Qiqihar throughout the tournament. For more information about the Bell Capital Cup Tournament, schedules, venues, team standings and statistics please visit the official website www.oihf.net/index.aro
Here is a basic outline of the trip for the two youth hockey teams. The schedule is subject to change. Stay tuned to this space on newyorkislanders.com for daily updates.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - Arrival Newark International Airport
Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - Travel to Ottawa
Thursday, December 29, 2005 - Tournament Begins
Friday, December 30, 2005 - Tournament Continues, On ice skate with NY Islanders, Attend Islanders v Senators game
Saturday, December 31, 2005 - Tournament Continues
Sunday, January 1, 2006 - Tournament Semi-Finals
Monday, January 2, 2006 - Tournament Finals, Travel to New York
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 - Visit to Roosevelt Field Mall with Islanders players and staff
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 - Visit to Nassau Coliseum, Afternoon game Harbin v Qiqihar, Attend Panthers v Islanders game
Thursday, January 5, 2006 - Day trip to New York City
Friday, January 6, 2006 - Depart from Newark International Airport
Some helpful background information about the Islanders-hosted visit to North America by two youth hockey leagues from China:
* The New York Islanders have organized and financed an opportunity for two youth hockey teams from China to travel to North America and participate in the annual Bell Capital Cup Youth Hockey Tournament in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
* Part of the Ottawa International Hockey Festival, the 7th Annual Bell Capital Cup will take place from Thursday, December 29, 2005 through Monday, January 2, 2006. Venues throughout the city of Ottawa and the surrounding area will host the tournament.
* A total of 34 student athletes, between the ages of 9 and 11 years old, will be making the journey from China. Coaches as well as municipal officials will accompany them from their home cities of Harbin and Qiqihar.
* The teams are known as the Red Stars of Harbin and Qiqihar Snow Leopards.
* Each of the 34 players from Harbin and Qiqihar will receive a full kit of new equipment as a gift from Nike/ Bauer. Nike/ Bauer have donated an additional 300 full sets of equipment that will be sent directly to China for the benefit of youth teams there.
* Harbin is the capital of the Heilongjiang Province in north-east China and has a population of more than 9.5 million people. It is a robust industrial city and is also known as the the political, economic, scientific, cultural and communications mecca of Northeast China (source: Wikipedia).
* Qiqihar is a major city in the Heilongjiang Province with a population of 5.61 million. Founded in 1691, Qiqihar is one of the oldest cities in north-east China (source: Wikipedia).
* The theme for the 2006 Bell Capital Cup is "Welcoming the World." The tournament will host 415 teams from countries including the United States, China, Finland, Hungary, Russia, France, Germany and others.
* While in Ottawa the teams from Harbin and Qiqihar will stay with host families connected to the Bell Capital Cup tournament.
* The New York Islanders opened a representative office in Harbin, China in 2003 with a mission to support the growth of the sport in China through the promotion of youth hockey programs and the China Women’s National Hockey Team.
* Islanders general manager Mike Milbury traveled to Harbin and Qiqihar during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
* The New York Islanders Children’s Foundation was founded in 2003. The foundation is a not-for-profit organization that provides necessary funding to organizations that look to develop youth hockey programs and further the development of already existing activities.
* Programs of the New York Islanders Children’s Foundation strive to grow the sport by creating a safe and healthy environment for athletic participation and use the game of hockey to teach life lessons to youth of all ages and abilities.
* Funding of New York Islanders Children’s Foundation programs is raised from private contributions. Ownership and fans of the New York Islanders support the foundation through participation in various fundraising events throughout the season.