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NHL staff hosts HIFE clinic at Chelsea Piers

by John McGourty
NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League will host boys and girls from Ice Hockey In Harlem and New Jersey Goals Ahead for a special Hockey is for Everyone clinic Tuesday night at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers.

NHL staff members and coaches from both organizations will participate in on-ice instruction at Sky Rink, located at 23rd Street and the West Side Highway. The clinic will run from 7-8:30 p.m. ET.

The goal of these clinics is to teach diverse groups of children how to play hockey, and to educate them about physical fitness, health and academics.

"This will be a basic clinic, said Wes Clarkson, NHL Manager, Digital Media and Direct Commerce, Game Center Live. "We'll divide the ice into three groups. We have a total of 30 kids, 15 from each group. We'll have skating drills, puckhandling drills and shooting and passing, with each group spending 15 minutes in each zone. Then we'll have a 15-minute scrimmage at the end.

"We're making sure the kids have fun and improve their hockey skills. And we're getting them some extra ice time."

NHL staffers joining Clarkson are former collegiate hockey players Sean Ellis, Kelly Patterson, Brett Sullivan, Evan Rand and Greg Mueller. Former Syracuse University women's club-hockey coach Evan Neel and former USA Hockey referee and Pingree School player Michael Blinn are also part of the NHL coaching staff.

Founded in 2004, New Jersey Goals Ahead provides financially challenged children the opportunity to learn to play and enjoy ice hockey free of charge. The group also brings awareness of hockey to New Jersey's diverse urban communities.

By 2007, more than 30 children were participating in programs in Union and Essex counties. Boys and girls from age 8 through high school are taught by professional coaches to learn the values of sportsmanship, competition, and athletic and academic achievement. With ice hockey as the catalyst and through the support of dedicated volunteers, children achieve athletic success on the ice, and improved life skills to help equip them off the ice.

A 13-member board directs the organization, and adult volunteers and professional coaches administer the program. Many New Jersey athletes participate as coaches and mentors.

In 2007, NJGA launched an adjunct program that matches high-school volunteers with program participants in need of academic tutoring or homework support.

Ice Hockey In Harlem is a non-profit, community-based organization for youths that uses hockey to promote academic achievement, responsibility, teamwork and good character.

The objective of the organization is to provide inspiration, encouragement and guidance to children, leading to better life experiences, education and career opportunities. Since 1987, Ice Hockey In Harlem has enriched the lives of more then 1,000 inner-city boys and girls.

Now in its third decade, Ice Hockey In Harlem has become a widely recognized and highly respected name throughout the hockey community. It also has served as the model for numerous successful programs throughout the country.

The Hockey is for Everyone initiative is a component of "The Biggest Assist Happens off the Ice," the National Hockey League's social-responsibility program that builds on the League's long-standing tradition of addressing important social issues in North America and around the world.

Hockey is for Everyone provides support and unique programming to non-profit youth-hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering children of all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey.  The initiative is supported by NHL teams and players, NHL alumni, USA Hockey and fans. To date, Hockey is for Everyone has exposed close to 60,000 boys and girls to unique hockey experiences.

To celebrate this initiative, the National Hockey League hosts the annual Hockey is for Everyone Month in February. The League-wide initiative includes numerous activities to promote the diversity of the game, all with the goal of raising awareness and celebrating the growth of the game.

To learn more about the Hockey is for Everyone initiative, visit

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