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Predators Award October Hockey Recognition to Palonen of Southern Ice Lightning and Kieser of NYHL

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators introduce the third season of a program to recognize hockey players and volunteers in the Nashville area who demonstrate character and skills that make youth hockey a better experience for all involved.  The Nashville Predators will recognize a Youth Hockey Player of the Month and a Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month beginning October, and will continue through the 2007-08 regular hockey season.

Preds defenseman Shea Weber presented October Youth Hockey Player, Lucas Palonen (right) and Youth Hockey Volunteer, Eric Kieser (left) with a plaque recognizing their efforts on behalf of the Nashville Predators during a pregame ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 25 at the Sommet Center.

During a ceremony held prior to the Nashville Predators’ October 25th home game against the Atlanta Thrashers, the Predators organization announced that Lucas Palonen and Eric Kieser had been named Youth Hockey Player and Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month, respectively, for October.  Palonen and Kieser were presented with a plaque recognizing their efforts on behalf of the Predators during the ceremony. The two were nominated and selected as part of a Predators hockey development initiative that will regularly recognize a player and volunteer in the Nashville area.

Palonen, October Player of the Month, is 12, and plays goaltender for the Peewee Select team, which is part of Southern Ice Lightning, that plays at Southern Ice Arena in Franklin, Tenn.  The Palonen family is from Finland where just about everyone plays hockey growing up, including his dad and older brother.  Palonen was born in Birmingham, Ala., and began playing when he was 5 years old. 

As Palonen entered his seventh hockey season this year his true character was tested.  After finding out he was cut from his previous travel team, Palonen’s passion for the game was not dampened.  He continued to play goaltender for the Southern Ice Youth Hockey League Peewee House team, while practicing with his former travel team.  His work ethic and skills earned him a spot on the Southern Ice Peewee Lightning Select team.  For a kid only 12-years-old his never give up attitude demonstrates “character training,” says dad, Jukka Palonen.

In addition to his time spent at the rink, this goaltender is an A/B student at Brentwood Middle School and has talent off the ice playing three musical instruments: bass, drums and keyboard. 

Palonen was nominated by Southern Ice Arena General Manager, Tim McAllister.  “Lucas is a tremendous athlete, has a great work ethic and is a role model for other players,” McAllister says. “In his situation, most kids his age would have been discouraged from continuing to play, but not Palonen, he was able to turn a disappointing situation into a positive.” For this, the Nashville Predators have recognized him the October Youth Hockey Player!

The Nashville Predators are also proud to have named Eric Kieser as the October Youth Hockey Volunteer.  Kieser is the Assistant Coach for the Termite and Mite Bruins teams of the NYHL which plays at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville, Tenn.  Kieser is also involved with the Hendersonville High School Commandos hockey team.

Kieser credits his kids for getting him involved in hockey.  This father of three young hockey players enters his sixth season as a coach.  “At the time my boys began playing hockey, there were limited individuals helping out with youth hockey,” says Kieser, who was eager to get involved to help coach his sons and volunteer his time to the city of Nashville.

This Helicopter Pilot in Army Aviation says the driving factor in coaching for him is the kids’ appreciation. Kiser cites that the heartfelt “thank you’s” from first time hockey parents of kids he coaches, as well as the “thanks a lot coach” from his players is rewarding in and of its self.

Kieser was nominated by Thomas Phillips, a parent of a first time hockey player coached by Kieser.  According to Phillips, “Coach Eric is one of the most patient coaches I have ever been around.  His enthusiasm for hockey is evident in his coaching of multiple teams and ability to make players feel like they are contributing to the team.  He is a coach and a hero to us.” For this the Nashville Predators have recognized him the October Youth Hockey Volunteer! 

For more information on the Predators hockey recognition program, or to nominate a player, volunteer or team making a difference in a youth hockey community, visit Predators Hockey Recognition page and nominate someone today!
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