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Reason to celebrate this weekend

by John McGourty

The Phoenix Coyotes are holding a contest to see which school can have the most kids wear hockey sweaters to school Friday. Watch the  Coyotes in action at Dallas
Spread the word by wearing your favorite hockey sweater to school Friday, the first day of USA Hockey's first-ever "Hockey Weekend Across America."

USA Hockey has designated a theme for each of the three days. Friday's theme is "Wear Your Jersey To School." "Bring A Friend to the Rink" is Saturday's theme, while on Sunday, the theme will be "Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes."

Every NHL team that is hosting a game during Hockey Weekend Across America will utilize pucks bearing the event's logo, as will teams in the professional minor leagues, the NCAA, United States Hockey League and the North American Hockey League.

Hockey Weekend Across America's objective is to celebrate hockey and all those involved in the game at all levels and also expose the game to additional audiences to attract more players, coaches, officials and volunteers to the sport, USA Hockey officials said.

USA Hockey and Reebok are offering dozens of prizes, including a chance each day to win a Reebok Hockey head-to-toe equipment prize package worth $3,000. Other prizes include autographed jerseys from members of the U.S. National and Olympic teams. Go to to register.

Hockey Weekend Across America

The NHL joins with USA Hockey to help celebrate the first-ever Hockey Weekend Across America, a three-day nationwide celebration of the sport from Feb. 15-17, 2008.

Each of the three days associated with the weekend has a theme, including Friday's Wear Your Jersey to School Day, Saturday's Bring A Friend to the Rink Day and Sunday's Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day.

"Our sport has a lot to celebrate at all levels and we're looking forward to being a part of Hockey Weekend Across America," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.


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American hockey has a lot to celebrate. United States-born and trained hockey players comprise 20 percent of the talent in the NHL, a five-fold increase during the past 30 years. Fifty years ago, there were no American players in the NHL. Nearly 600 American institutions of higher learning host hockey teams. There are 217 varsity programs in NCAA Division I, II and III. There are also 373 teams in the five divisions of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

The 1998 Olympic gold-medal-winning women's team has spiked a big increase in female participation. Membership has doubled in the past 10 years to 57,549 girl/woman registrations a year ago.

More than 100,000 American adults play in registered leagues, an increase of 36 percent in just two years.

Team USA has won six world championships in the past four years, including the 2004 World Junior Championship.

USA Hockey grew from approximately 200,000 registrations in 1990 to 600,000 today.

There will be Hockey Weekend Across America activities throughout the country. Among them:

The third annual Labatt Blue USA Hockey Pond Hockey Championship will be held in Eagle River, Wis. Players from 142 teams from 23 states will compete in nine divisions on 18 rinks on Dollar Lake.

The Phoenix Coyotes are holding a contest to see which school can have the most kids wear hockey sweaters to school Friday. The top five schools will receive tickets to a future game. They're holding a similar contest for businesses. The Coyotes will also honor a hockey hero from each local youth-hockey association during an on-ice ceremony between periods of Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Arizona Girls Youth Hockey Association is hosting a 25-team all-girls invitational in Scottsdale. The Arizona Selects (U-10, U-12, U-14, U-16) will be wearing their jerseys to school Feb. 15.

The Houston Aeros will hold an open skate after their game Friday against the Iowa Stars. It's a great deal. See a tough AHL game, wear your sweater and bring your skates. You must purchase your tickets through this Internet site:

Also, you can skate with the Boston Bruins Ice Girls and Blades, the Bruins mascot, at an open skate Friday, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Chelmsford Forum. All persons wearing hockey sweaters will be entered to win Bruins tickets and other prizes.

There will be a sled-hockey demonstration during one of the intermissions of Saturday's Central Hockey League game between the Bossier City-Shreveport Mudbugs and the host Austin Ice Bats.

NHL Alumni will scrimmage against youth-hockey players Sunday during "Skate the Lake," in Prior Lake, Minn. Volunteers have prepared three hockey rinks, a pleasure rink and a 1.5 mile loop for pleasure skating and pond hockey games. Raffles will be held to fund future development of additional ice facilities in and around Prior Lake.

During Sunday's Flyers' game against the Montreal Canadiens, five Hockey Weekend Across America pucks will be hidden in the arena and fans can redeem the pucks for prizes.

Philadelphia is hockey country and the City Council won't let you forget it. Monday, the Council designated Feb. 11-17, "Hockey Week Across Philadelphia. The NHL Flyers and AHL Phantoms will be working together at several events, including a visit Friday to St. Agnes Catholic School in West Chester, Pa. During Sunday's Flyers' game against the Montreal Canadiens, five Hockey Weekend Across America pucks will be hidden in the arena and fans can redeem the pucks for prizes.

The Flyers outreach to schools is already strong. The team hosts the Flyers Cup, the high-school hockey championship in Eastern Pennsylvania. Schools will be receptive to the Flyers encouraging students throughout the area to wear their hockey sweaters Friday.

Saturday is also the 10th annual Hockey Day In Michigan with events taking place at rinks and other venues around the state. Check out Ann Arbor's Ice Cube where the United States National Development Program teams will be playing all weekend.

One of the more interesting events will take place in the Plymouth, Mich., library Saturday at 2 p.m. when former University of Michigan coach Al Renfrew, former Michigan State star Tom Mustonen and Raymond Rolak will relate history and experiences that will appeal to players, coaches and parents on all aspects of hockey lore. Renfrew was the leader of the 1948 Wolverines team that won the first NCAA title and coached the 1964 Wolverines to the college championship. Mustonen's Spartans came within a goal of winning the NCAA title, losing the 1959 Final to North Dakota, 4-3, in overtime. Elwood Miller, the grandfather of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, played on that team.

They won't be keeping score, just having fun, at the Pond Hockey Jamboree in Hudsonville, Mich., on Sunday from 4-7 p.m. The event is open to all Grand Valley Amateur Hockey Association players.

The Hockey In The Hood Tournament Showcase Weekend will draw more 300 inner-city youth to Detroit from 12 NHL Diversity programs across America. There will also be a tribute to NHL Diversity Director Willie O'Ree, who became the NHL's first black player 50 years ago this year.

For more Michigan information, see,%202006/hockeyday011606.html


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