Devils Show Hockey Is For Everyone All Year ‘Round

Caela McLoughlin of the NewJerseyDevils.com (the team’s official website) had an interesting piece up today that I thought I would like to highlight. It was on the various ways that the Devils participate in the “Hockey Is For Everyone” initiative put forth by the NHL.

As McLoughlin said in her article, Hockey Is For Everyone “aims to teach hockey to all who are interested and build more inclusive hockey communities that drive positive social change.”

She talked about the Devils’ support for the Special Olympics New Jersey. According to McLoughlin, “(f)rom June through November, the Devils joined with Special Olympics New Jersey for the organization’s inaugural year of the Lear to Skate program – the first of its kind in the Special Olympics movement.” She said that five rinks participated (all of whom are affiliated with the Devils as rink partners) throughout the state. At each of the sessions at the rink, “the Devils provided on-ice support and off-ice education about the sport of hockey to Special Olympics athletes and their families.”

McLoughlin said that the rink partners “donated, in total, 25 hours of ice time for the Special Olympics New Jersey Learn to Skate.” Now, for anyone who played hockey or has had someone in their family play hockey, they know that this is no small thing. Ice time is very valuable to rinks and in demand. So the rinks were really providing a great service to Special Olympics New Jersey and that is nice to see.

In addition, McLoughlin said that “(i)ndividuals from local hockey clubs also volunteered as instructors for the sessions.” She also said that “(t)he program also connected people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to local ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating teams through Special Olympics New Jersey, USA Hockey and American Special Hockey Association.”

On another track, the Devils, on Monday against the Lightning, celebrated International Day of Disabled Persons. In recognition of this, nine-year-old Joel Tapia of the Woodbridge Warriors Sled Hockey Team was named Junior Captain of the Game. The Devils have done the Junior Captain of the Game before, most notably during Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

McLoughlin mentioned Joel’s role in being the Junior Captain. He got to high five the players as they came out of the locker room before the game and got to line up with the team on the blue line during the national anthem. He was introduced to the crowd by PA Announcer Kevin Clark as well.

In addition to all of this, McLoughlin says that the Devils will be celebrating American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) Night on Friday, December 14 when the Devils face the Vegas Golden Knights. She said that “(t)he Devils will have one representative from each of the five local ASHA clubs join the team on the blue line for hte National Anthem. ASHA will also be the 50/50 beneficiary that evening, where fans can donate by participating in the raffle.”

For more information, you can read Caela’s article over at the Devils’ official siteĀ here.