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New Jersey Warriors Won A Title At The Inaugural Toyota USA Hockey Warrior National Championship in More Than One Way

By Dan Scifo, 04/16/24, 11:30AM MDT


More than 750 players and 34 teams competed in the inaugural event.

Every time the New Jersey Warriors step onto the ice, Ted Curtin, the organization’s executive vice president, feels that it’s a victory.

Curtin hopes he brought that mentality to the rest of the Warrior Hockey Discipline.

The New Jersey Warriors hosted the inaugural Toyota USA Hockey Warrior National Championship April 11-14 at the Ice Vault Arena in Wayne, New Jersey.

“I tell our guys and our opponents that I don’t care about the score,” Curtin said. “The moment we step on the ice, we’ve won because we brought veterans together to help them heal through their mental and physical issues. We always view anytime we get together as a big win for our team.”

The Warrior Hockey Discipline is dedicated to injured and disabled military veterans who have served our country and play hockey. To be eligible to compete in Warrior Hockey, participants must have a discharge under honorable conditions with the ability to provide official documentation from their designated branch of service.

At the Warrior National Championship, more than 750 players across 34 teams from around the country competed for a national title in six different tiers.

“You might not be able to understand how exciting this is for us as a relatively new program,” Curtin said. “We’ve been to a lot of USA Hockey tournaments and there’s a lot of great energy here, and that amplifies our core mission, which is to provide a great environment and a great experience for these disabled veterans.”

The New Jersey Warriors started in the fall of 2019. The team went to its first national event in Las Vegas with 10 players. Then, the pandemic hit, but the New Jersey Warriors constantly communicated with each other while they couldn’t take the ice. 

“Even though we weren’t on the ice, there was an outlet for our veterans to connect and stay connected,” Curtin said. “Instead of being faced with isolation, they had each other and for those disabled veterans, it was a lifeline.”

Curtin added that several times a year, the organization holds open practices for any interested veteran. They conduct open skates and have scholarship programs, power skating clinics and hockey development initiatives, as well.

“Our veterans are dealing with a lot of burdens,” Curtin said. “We want to make sure finances are something our veterans don’t have to deal with. We try to do whatever we can to make sure it doesn’t become a burden to our players, including travel to tournaments.”

Curtin said the Warriors could not do what they do without their affiliation and support from the New Jersey Devils. Former Devils players and the organization’s mascot frequently visit events, including practices and charity functions.

“The Devils’ organization is great to us,” Curtin said. “They give us exposure during the games and even throughout the year, they allow us to set up tables at the Prudential Center, which allows us to do more outreach, meet new people and share our mission of supporting veterans. They do so much and we’re incredibly appreciative of the support we get from the Devils.”

The New Jersey Warriors are a non-profit, volunteer-run organization. The Warriors captured the Tier V national championship with a shutout win against the Nebraska Warriors this past weekend. Brian Smith and Keith Marrano scored the goals for New Jersey, and James Connors earned the shutout in net. Ernie Hernandez and Eric Greenberg tallied assists in the win.

Curtin said the ultimate goal is to help use hockey to heal and serve veterans of the program and beyond. A future milestone, Curtin said, is to potentially field multiple teams at the next tournament.

“For me, one of the greatest joys is to be able to give back to men and women who have given us so much for our freedom,” Curtin said. “I can see the life-changing experience for our veterans when they come into our program with whatever they’re dealing with and then thriving within our community. We’re hoping that we can keep growing.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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