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USA Hockey Foundation to be Beneficiary of Celebrity Golf Tournament Featuring Kings, Avalanche

04/15/2014, 3:00pm MDT
By USA Hockey

A celebrity golf tournament featuring members of the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings will be held Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, at The Broadmoor Golf Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., with all proceeds from the event benefitting The USA Hockey Foundation.

The tournament will be held in conjunction with an NHL preseason game between Colorado and Los Angeles at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs on Oct. 2.

"We're most grateful to have The USA Hockey Foundation as the beneficiary of the celebrity golf outing," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "We also thank both the Kings and Avalanche for their continued efforts in in working with USA Hockey to positively affect the growth of hockey, particularly at the youth level."

Foursomes for the tournament are available and include the opportunity to golf with Avalanche and Kings personnel, tickets to the preseason contest between the two clubs Oct. 2, and opportunities to win prizes, as well as breakfast, lunch, and a cocktail reception.

For more information, click here or call (310) 535-4466.

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Blind Hockey Debuts at Disabled Festival

05/18/2015, 9:45am MDT
By Kelly Erickson

Christine Osika started losing her sight as a teenager. She will always have her peripheral vision, but she’ll continue to lose her central vision. 

Osika is blind. She’s also a hockey player. 

A hockey lover all-around, Osika didn’t want to give up her favorite game due to disability. In the fall of 2014 she co-founded Courage USA to give herself and others like her across the United States the chance to play hockey. 

Osika and her Courage USA teammates debuted blind hockey at the 2015 USA Hockey Disabled Festival in Buffalo, New York. With 71 teams and 147 games from April 9-12, the new discipline drew the largest audience. It was simply another case of the human spirit conquering adversity.

“That was really nice,” Osika said of the full house cheering on her team at the festival. “That was probably the biggest crowd any of us have played in front of, let alone for blind hockey. That was really cool.”

Blind hockey players have to have 90 percent sight loss. They play with a larger puck that has noisemakers in it so the players can hear where it is on the ice. They also have one particular rule in that when the puck enters the zone, they have to make a pass before than can shoot it on net. When that pass is made, a ref blows a high-pitched whistle to let the goaltender know the puck can now be shot on net. 

Despite these specific rules and modifications to their game, the players are working at full speed, using their senses to make their way across the ice.

“I saw it quite a few times, in amazement, a player skating down the ice and feeling the presence of another skater coming in to check them, and moving away from that player,” Norm Page said, who helped organize this year’s festival. “It was incredible. It was amazing to see the human spirit. It was powerful.”

While it was the first year blind hockey was a part of the USA Hockey Disabled Festival, it was the 11th installment of the event itself. What started as a small gathering of a few programs has grown exponentially over the years.

Page noted that this year’s event needed two arenas with six different ice sheets. With sled hockey, special hockey, deaf/hard-of-hearing hockey, standing/amputee hockey, and now blind hockey, the festival celebrates these athletes who dedicate just as much time to their game as standup, sighted hockey players do. 

“It’s just incredible to see the growth,” Page said. “I think that we can relate that to so many different things, but a lot of it is the support of USA Hockey. It’s a huge piece of that. Being able to go out do things like clinics and talks with different programs, helping to teach the education piece in all aspects of hockey, and helping folks develop their own disabled programs, helping them support their own programs in the long run. I think really speaks volumes about the education process that we’ve been able to do.”

With that ongoing education and an annual spectacle of the sport, constant awareness is brought to the different disciplines of the game. Thanks to the help of USA Hockey Foundation donor dollars – which puts $25,000 toward the festival each year – the cost of the weekend is decreased, while the exposure of disabled hockey is increased. Simply because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they aren’t a hockey player.

“I’ve been doing disabled hockey for 18 years now and I don’t think we’ve ever seen — be it standup or disabled hockey — I don’t think we’ve ever seen the popularity like we are now,” Page said, who’s own son, Adam, is a Paralympic sled hockey player. “It’s things like this, getting people to see different types of hockey and understand that anybody can play the sport. 

“When we talk about USA Hockey and that hockey is for everyone, that’s really what it’s all about. We believe it and live and breathe it every day.”

The Festival and disabled hockey itself would not be possible without the efforts of everyone involved in the game. Without the help of the USA Hockey Foundation and its donors, the coaches, volunteers, and the family and friends that get the players to the ice, the sport wouldn’t be anything near what it is today.

“Without your support system, you can’t make it happen; you can’t get to the rink,” Osika said. “My husband has to bring me, or my father, or friends of mine. We can’t do it without them.”

“It’s everybody,” Page added. “It really is a complete community, starting right from the top with USA Hockey and the USA Hockey Foundation and their huge commitment to disabled hockey. It starts there and works its way right down the rinks.”

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