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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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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.

Giving Back to the Game with Chris Chelios

06/23/2015, 3:00pm MDT
By Brenna Payne

Chris Chelios, a Team USA member ten times over, has continued his involvement in the world of hockey since his retirement from the professional ranks as a player in 2010. 

Chelios will add a new role to his resume in December, when he climbs behind the bench as an assistant coach for Ron Wilson and the U.S. National Junior Team at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland.

A 2011 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Chelios most recently served as a hockey operations advisor for the Detroit Red Wings, while working closely with the Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Chelios’ affiliation with Team USA began in 1982, as a player at the IIHF World Junior Championship. He went on to play in four Olympics  (including with the silver-medal team in 2002) and on the championship-winning 1996 World Cup of Hockey squad.

In addition to Chelios’ work with the U.S. National Junior Team, he will be taking on a new NHL role this season, working with the Detroit Red Wings’ defensemen.

 

LaFontaine on ’96 World Cup: “We Broke a Barrier”

03/31/2015, 2:00pm MDT
By Jessi Pierce

Remembering the 1996 U.S. World Cup victory

Three minutes and 18 seconds. That’s all the time it took for the 1996 United States World Cup squad to shock the hockey world. From 1981-1994, the U.S. Men’s National Team struggled against their neighbors to the north. They had never before beaten Canada in a best-on-best battle through that stretch. But during the inaugural World Cup of Hockey, they did. They became the best in the world, a success USA Hockey hopes to repeat in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

“In Canada, hockey is their pride,” Hockey Hall of Famer and 1996 U.S. team member Pat LaFontaine said. “You’re not supposed to come in to Canada and beat them, best against best. Just look at the names we were going up against. Their four centermen were Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. We had to beat that talented group of players twice in a row in Montreal. It was a pretty hefty task but the guys really took it upon their shoulders and made it happen.” 

America put its best on the ice, too. Along with LaFontaine, the 1996 U.S. World Cup roster boasted legendary last names such as Chelios, Amonte, Modano and Richter. It was a team made up of 97 percent NHL players with a blend of Olympic veterans and rising stars. 

Rise to the Top
In its inaugural year, the format for the World Cup of Hockey changed slightly from its predecessor, the Canada Cup. Eight teams were separated into two groups, European and North American.

The U.S. completed the round robin group games with a perfect 3-0-0 record, defeating Canada (5-3), Russia (5-2) and Slovakia (9-3). The team’s scoring prowess was notable, outscoring the combined three teams 19-8.

The victories moved Team USA to the semifinals against Russia. The boys in red, white and blue ousted the Russians, 5-2, at Madison Square Garden. 

“Beating Russia in Madison Square Garden, that was a pretty emotional game,” said LaFontaine. “I think there were a lot of eyes on that U.S. World Cup team in 1996 and everyone wanted to see us succeed and move on to the finals. 

“The way our team came together with a passion and a want to achieve something is why we advanced.”

The win pushed the U.S. to the finals where they faced the heavily favored Canadians in the best-of-three championship. The U.S. narrowly lost the first game in Philadelphia with an overtime score of 4-3. It set up a must-win situation for Game 2 in Montreal. Team USA rose to the occasion, forcing a decisive Game 3 after downing the Canadians, 5-2. 

But Game 3 in Montreal wasn’t going to be as easy the first. Heading into the third period, Canada held a 2-1 lead as the clock dwindled.

With just 3:18 remaining in the game, Brett Hull deflected a shot from Brian Leetch past Canadian goaltender Curtis Joseph to knot it at two. Forty-three seconds later Tony Amonte found himself skating through the slot. Derian Hatcher sailed the puck toward the net, Amonte getting a piece of it. After a lengthy review, the goal stood. Team USA was ahead, 3-2, with little more than two minutes to go.

“I remember watching the puck go in off Tony Amonte and soon after that we just took complete control of the game,” recalled LaFontaine, a 15-year NHL veteran, two-time Olympian and 2003 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee. “It’s amazing how things happen and how they can change in a matter of minutes. It was just one of those surreal moments. No one was rattled as the third period wound down. It was a collective calm and that’s what helped us rally to win.”

Derian Hatcher followed with an empty-net goal and Adam Deadmarsh snuck one more past Joseph to seal the deal, 5-2. U.S. goaltender Mike Richter was outstanding in net. The hall of famer made 180 saves through six games and finished the tournament with a .923 save percentage. His play earned him the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award, cementing his place among the world’s elite players.

“We couldn’t have done it without Mike,” LaFontaine said of the team’s netminder. “He was absolutely amazing. He carried the team on his back through that tournament. We all have him to thank for achieving what we did in ’96.”

For LaFontaine and his teammates, the win was comparable to what they had witnessed watching the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice.’ It was the first international championship for Team USA since Lake Placid and a monumental step forward for USA Hockey. Once again the paradigm of hockey in the world had shifted in the Americans favor. 

“We broke a barrier,” said LaFontaine. “Just look at where USA Hockey is now. There was a respect we earned worldwide with that victory.”

Bringing it Back in 2016
The World Cup of Hockey made its second appearance in 2004. After a 12-year drought, the NHL announced this January that the series is coming back in 2016. 

“I think bringing back the World Cup is tremendous,” LaFontaine said. “I think the game is at a great place. It’s grown and seems to be achieving great levels as far as exposure, excitement and growth. To have the World Cup come back again, I couldn’t be happier.”

With 20 years between the 1996 World Cup, LaFontaine says it’s time for the U.S. to mark another big win on the international stage. 

“If you look back in USA Hockey, there were those pillars that were defined by important wins,” said LaFontaine. “The 1960 and 1980 Olympics were two, followed by the 1996 World Cup and the 1998 women’s Olympic gold medal. Those were the big defining moments of USA Hockey. I think we’re due for another one.”

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