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Pennsylvania Claims "Paint America" Gold

01/08/2014, 4:00pm MST
By USAHockey.com

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Pennsylvania is the gold-medal state it was announced today by The USA Hockey Foundation in wrapping up its “Paint America Red, White and Blue” fundraising campaign that spanned the month of December.
 
The Keystone State's 32 donations led the nation, thus giving it the gold-medal designation. Michigan was not far behind with 27 donors and Massachusetts finished third with 24 donations. Contributions also came from newer hockey markets, including Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina. In total, some 300 people took part with more than $40,000 raised to benefit the continued advancement of hockey in the United States.
 
“We couldn’t be more thankful to those that participated in this very first Paint America Red, White and Blue campaign,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey and The USA Hockey Foundation. “The contributions received will help further opportunities in the sport at all levels and we are so appreciative of every single gift.”
 
The USA Hockey Foundation supports USA Hockey efforts that provide opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged youth; help increase participation through a variety of initiatives; enhance the safety of the game; help the U.S. be the best internationally; provide education programs for athletes, coaches, officials and parents; and celebrate the game through commemoration.

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An Alumnus’ Appreciation

04/28/2016, 11:00am MDT
By Kelly Erickson

Why U.S. Olympian Steve Alley gives back to USA Hockey

Steve Alley’s hockey resume is long and covers almost every level. He played four years at the University of Wisconsin under “Badger” Bob Johnson, winning two NCAA national championships. He played in three IIHF World Championships for Team USA in 1974, 1975 and 1978, also making a pit stop in Innsbruck for the 1976 Winter Olympics with Team USA. Eventually, he made his way to the pro leagues, playing a handful of NHL games with the Hartford Whalers after several years with the Birmingham Bulls in the World Hockey Association.

In his time abroad with Team USA, Alley was able to experience hockey in a new fashion, often travelling to Europe and playing against revered powers in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. While he was able to learn from and adopt the European style of hockey at the time, spending time behind the Iron Curtain was a social educational experience, too. 

“What I’ve realized is that the Olympic experience, of all my hockey experience, winds up being the most important because it’s a global experience,” Alley said. “To this day, me saying I’m an Olympian probably means more than anything relative to my hockey career. USA Hockey gave me that opportunity.”

Those days inspired him to give back to USA Hockey. Alley, and his wife Joanie, are members of The USA Hockey Foundation’s Circle of Champions, meaning they make a donation of $1,000 or more annually. 

With his pro hockey days now behind him, Alley owns his own money management firm, Alley Company. He enjoys watching hockey and seeing how it’s evolved since his playing days, and he cheers for the Blackhawks and the Red Wings.

Goaltending Greatness

04/26/2016, 1:45pm MDT
By Kelly Erickson

The Ron DeGregorio Goaltending Excellence Fund aims to develop top American netminders

Goaltending is in Ron DeGregorio’s blood. The former USA Hockey president and current co-chair of the board grew up playing the position through high school, college and for Team USA. Eventually he started coaching and now, through the Ron DeGregorio Goaltending Excellence Fund, he hopes to continue making a difference for American netminders. 

With the fund, DeGregorio hopes to establish a program that develops great goaltending coaches at every level of the game for every team, with the ultimate goal of making sure that American goalies remain part of the elite corps of goaltenders in juniors, NCAA hockey, the NHL and even recreational hockey. 

“Our goal is to make sure that each goaltender playing in the United States gets great coaching and mentoring to be all they can be,” DeGregorio said.

The fund aims to help train and support goaltending development coordinators in each of USA Hockey’s affiliate programs throughout the country. Those chosen for these new roles will become experts in USA Hockey’s goaltending curriculum and share that instruction with coaches and goaltending coaches in their affiliate all the way down to the team and community level. 

The first training hosted for these new coordinators will take place the second week in May, in Plymouth, Michigan. The training will be held in concert with the Warren Strelow National Goaltending Camp, allowing those filling this new role to see the training in practice with some of the top netminders of their age group from around the country. 

“We’re very happy; We’re going to have 20 (new coordinators) at our first session,” DeGregorio said. “Already, we feel very, very comfortable and are pleased with how the affiliates have decided to be a part of this. We’ve had some meetings and webinars with the affiliates on the subject and they’re excited about it.”

DeGregorio emphasized the importance of this program, and his fund backing it, across every level of hockey. Strong goaltenders help elevate the game. The more skilled and difficult it is to play against a goalie, the more it will challenge forwards and defensemen. While the focus here is on the goaltenders, ultimately, it will have a greater impact on the game itself. 

“Having great goaltending up the ladder means the greater the opportunity will be for American forwards and defensemen to develop as well,” DeGregorio said. 

This impact will be felt from local programs to higher levels of the game and, hopefully, recreationally too. DeGregorio noted, for many hockey players, when the high school jersey is retired, they’ll end up in an adult league or some other recreational league, as long as they continue to enjoy playing. Good goaltending is just as important to help make the game challenging and fun for those who have their sights set on their own versions of the Stanley Cup.

“Both from the elite level and the recreational level, whatever we do to have better goaltending and support that position, I think that helps hockey,” DeGregorio said.

“I really do believe that this is something that will help American hockey.”

It Starts With a Stick (and Ends with a Smile)

04/26/2016, 11:15am MDT
By Dan Marrazza

Sometimes, things aren’t exactly as they seem. 

This is often the case when it comes to running a youth hockey program in the United States. 

Where budgets are usually tight, funding difficult to come by and registration numbers occasionally reliant on families’ ability to afford a sport in a difficult economy, any opportunity for a program to receive a little aid is often a godsend.

When it comes to the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association, that godsend came in the form of USA Hockey’s It Starts With a Stick program, which recently facilitated more than three dozen young Colorado girls receiving their very own hockey stick, without charge, courtesy of USA Hockey.

“One of the cool things about the stick program is that it allows us the opportunity to give kids a stick they can keep,” said Kendall Hanley, Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association director of hockey.

Launched in December 2014, It Starts with a Stick was designed to raise the money needed to put more than 12,000 free sticks in the hands of youth hockey players around the country. Since its inception two years ago, the program has successfully donated new sticks to 24,000 players.

“I remember being a kid and I drove my mom nuts, stickhandling in the kitchen, and stickhandling on the deck, stickhandling on the street,” Hanley said. “It helped grow my love of hockey, just because I had the tool in my hands.”

In the past, the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association has been the tool for more than 120 of its graduates to move on to hockey at a higher level, 2014 U.S. Olympian Lyndsey Fry being most notable among them. But more than that, the program has been a vehicle for girls to participate in hockey, just for the sake of enjoying hockey, which before it was established in 2000, was exceedingly rare in the state of Colorado.

“We offer team options and program options for girls that are six-and-under, all the way up to 19-and-under Tier I,” Hanley said. “We have 186 girls in our program right now. One of our goals is to really focus on growing the game and providing opportunities for everyone to play.”

When it comes to a sport like hockey, just finding an opportunity to get as many people involved that want to be involved is often the largest obstacle.

“It’s more so the equipment,” Hanley said. “Obviously, kids at these ages are (constantly) growing. The barrier that I’d say is there the most, especially where I focus on the girls side right now, is the (cost of) equipment.

“We provide a lot of financial assistance, as well making it as affordable as possible for kids to get on the ice. Finding them equipment, sticks, skates. Just making it as low-cost as possible, this day and age, with the barriers that are at hand for a lot of families.

“It’s one thing when they get a jersey, but when they hear they can keep their stick, their eyes just light up. Seeing that, you’re like: ‘Oh, this is awesome!’ I think that program is a tremendously awesome idea.”

Actually, in some cases, things are exactly as they seem.

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