Morgan Rielly has given Toronto Maple Leafs fans plenty to cheer for this season with his play, and he gained some new fans on Wednesday.
The defenseman surprised 48 special needs hockey players at the Mississauga Crusaders Special Hockey Club in Toronto by teaming up with CCM to donate equipment, which will be used for junior, intermediate and senior teams' practice and games.
"I'm honored to have had the opportunity to help the incredibly dedicated hockey players of the Mississauga Crusaders continue to play the game that they love and reach their full potential both on the ice and in the broader community," Rielly said. "The players, coaches and parents of the Crusaders are an inspiration to the entire hockey world and their passion reminds me of why I fell in love with the sport."
Founded in 1995, the Mississauga Crusaders Special Hockey Club is a non-profit organization which gives developmentally challenged children and adults the opportunity to play hockey.
"The club is ecstatic with the brand new equipment and gear from CCM," coach Brent Christensen said. "Operating a hockey club for special needs players for almost two decades is an incredible feat, however, it hasn't come devoid of its challenges. A lot of these players have fallen in love with the game of hockey, but the sport isn't a cheap one to participate in."
Rielly is among the NHL leaders in scoring among defensemen with 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 15 games this season.
The Maple Leafs (10-5-0) have won two straight games and host the New Jersey Devils at Scotiabank Arena on Friday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, TSN4, MSG+, NHL.TV).