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USA Hockey's 24-Hour game starts today

by John McGourty

Each hockey game is a 30-minute running-time affair between teams labeled "Stars" and "Stripes."
What starts in Maine, passes through every state, and ends in Alaska? No, it's not the interstate-highway system. Alaska doesn't have any interstate highways. Dutch Elm disease? Nope, not that either.

It's USA Hockey's 24-Hour Hockey Game that begins Friday at noon at the Kennebec Ice Arena in Hallowell, Maine, where Eric Weinrich first played organized hockey, and ends at 1 p.m. HT in Honolulu's Kamilo`iki Park. The Hawaiian game is an inline event, so the last ice-hockey event starts at noon Saturday at the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center in Eagle River, Ak., a rink frequented in their younger days by NHL players Scott Gomez, Ty Conklin, Matt Carle and Brandon Dubinsky.

Each game is a 30-minute running-time affair between teams labeled "Stars" and "Stripes." At the end of each game, organizers call the score into USA Hockey and a final tally will be released later.

The Philadelphia Flyers will host the New Jersey segment at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone rink in Voorhees, N.J., while the Phoenix Coyotes will open Arena for the Arizona segment.

"Kennebec Ice Arena was chosen at a meeting of the Maine Amateur Hockey Association because we wanted to kick off the national event in good fashion," said MAHA board member Christian Hebert. "We chose two teams of Mites. Kennebec donated the ice and put the event together."

"We have two Mite teams from the Maine Amateur Youth Hockey League," said rink manager K.C. Johnson. "The Gardiner Youth Hockey Association plays out of this rink. Their Mite team will be hosting the Penobscot Valley Hockey Conference Mites. They play out of a couple of rinks, including Alfond Arena at the University of Maine."

The 24-Hour Game will then move to New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York before the New Jersey event kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET.

"We are participating in USA Hockey's 24-Hour Game on Friday," said Pat Farrell, Flyers Skate Zone Vice President of Rink Management. "USA Hockey contacted us and we are thrilled to be participating.

"We'll have two teams from the South Jersey High School Hockey League, Eastern High School from here in Voorhees versus Cherry Hill East in a 30-minute running time game."

"Kennebec Ice Arena was chosen at a meeting of the Maine Amateur Hockey Association because we wanted to kick off the national event in good fashion" - MAHA board member Christian Hebert

The event winds through the United States and around the clock until a band of hardy Arizona hockey players greets the day in the Valley of the Sun.

The Phoenix Coyotes will host Arizona’s 30-minute game at Arena on Saturday at 6:30 a.m. MST. The two teams will consist of players of all ages from the Phoenix area, the Coyotes said.

Each team will consist of four “lines;” the first line will be Mites and Squirts, the second will be Peewees and Bantams, the third will be Midgets and high-school players, and the fourth line will be adult hockey players, possibly including NHL alumni.

"All the players will be getting a free jersey and their game here at Arena will run for an hour from 6:30-7:30 a.m. MST," said Scott Storkan, the Coyotes’ manager of hockey development. "We'll give USA Hockey the score at 7 a.m., the end of our half-hour, but the game will continue for the full hour. We didn't want the players coming out here early in the morning and then going home after a half hour, so we're giving the full hour."

The event is free and open to the public.

Reid McDonald manages the Eagle River rink named after his dad, who was killed while working in a small plane. Reid played college hockey at Michigan Tech when USA Hockey's Director of Media and Public Relations Dave Fischer worked hockey media there.

"Dave's a friend of mine and was trying to get a hold of someone up here," McDonald said. "I had a time slot and I coach Mites C and B. I told Dave that if he didn't mind Mites, we'll do it. He said OK and we think this opportunity to participate is very cool.

"I think it's great and the kids were thrilled when they found out. It should be fun for the kids and it's fun for all of us to be included. It's a great way to promote the game."

What an appropriate way for the ice-hockey tournament to begin and end, with America's youngest hockey players hoping they can follow the paths blazed by Weinrich, Gomez, Dubinsky, Carle and Conklin.


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