The Nashville Predators have literally been taking hockey to the streets lately as part of a new initiative the team is launching. "Taking Hockey to the Streets" is designed to identify local neighborhoods where kids gather to play casual games of street hockey. The program provides an exciting opportunity for young fans to interact with GNASH and Predators players, coaches, and staff, and it also helps to promote membership growth in the sport of hockey at the grassroots level in Middle Tennessee.
On Thursday, October 13, youngsters in a Franklin community lit up with excitement when mascot GNASH and Nashville Predators staff unexpectedly showed up to play street hockey in their neighborhood. The children, who ranged in age from 3 to 12 and included a mix of boys and girls, had the opportunity to take shots against netminder GNASH and challenged the Nashville Predators staff to an all-out street hockey game. In a hotly contested match, the neighborhood kids--some of whom play hockey for local ice and roller hockey organizations including Southern Ice Arena and Youth, Inc.--beat the Predators' side 4-2 in comeback fashion.
Following the success of that event, the Nashville Predators packed up their vans again and traveled to a neighborhood in Gallatin on Tuesday, October 18. Neighborhood children were treated to a surprise visit by GNASH, Predators rookies Simon Gamache and Ryan Suter, and the team's front office staff. Excited youngsters took part in a pre-game warm-up and a friendly street hockey game matching the Predators' side against the neighborhood kids. Predators players Gamache and Suter paired up with the neighborhood children to compose a team, while GNASH and members of the Predators staff made up the other.
The staff team jumped off to an early lead on an unexpectedly accurate shot by GNASH that beat the goaltender for the first goal of the game. The neighborhood team quickly answered back when Gamache made a backhanded pass to a young teammate for an easy goal. The neighborhood side used crisp passing and three unanswered goals to begin running away with the game. The Predators staff scored in the waning minutes in a last ditch effort to regain the lead but came up short after failing to capitalize on several opportunities. The game ended as a 3-2 win for the neighborhood team, and an autograph session followed with the two Predators rookies.
If street hockey is played in your neighborhood and you would like "Taking Hockey to the Streets" to schedule a surprise visit, please have an adult contact the Predators Amateur & Youth Hockey Department at (615) 770-2372. The Predators Street Team will arrive equipped with street hockey nets, street hockey sticks, balls, goalie equipment--everything needed for a friendly game. This offers youngsters the opportunity to sample what it would be like to play hockey. All equipment used at neighborhood visits has been donated by the NHL through the NHL Street program and the Nashville Predators Street Pride program. The Street Pride program takes hockey off the ice and onto your streets. For more information, visit the Street Pride page.
Photo Galleries: 10/13/05 Event in Franklin 10/18/05 Event in Gallatin