The Rinks lead the way, show ‘Hockey Is For Everyone’
The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association are celebrating Hockey Is For Everyone month this February.
The campaign focuses on the inclusion of players of all ages and abilities from diverse backgrounds in the sport.
“Our clubs, our players and our fans are committed to welcoming everyone to hockey,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “While the NHL family strives for diversity and inclusiveness all year long, February is Hockey Is For Everyone month, which will highlight, on a daily basis, the many ways our sport brings greater attention, heightened awareness and broader opportunities.”
Each NHL team is hosting a Hockey Is For Everyone night during a home game in the month of February. The Anaheim Ducks celebrated this special initiative with their home game against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 17.
In keeping with the campaign, The Rinks has been promoting inclusions across all of their developmental hockey programs. The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline is home to the Anaheim Ducks Top Flight Street Hockey League. The program, currently in its 12th season, gives individuals with special needs the chance to play street hockey in a safe environment with family and friends. Participants of all ages and skill levels receive advice from expert coaches to help develop their hockey skills and then put those skills to the test in a game.
The Top Flight program has been so successful that it recently expanded to include ice hockey as well.
Players of all ages and abilities with special needs are invited to head over to The Rinks-Lakewood ICE for Top Flight on ICE on Feb. 26 at 3:15 p.m. The clinic provides a free outlet for these players and a chance to participate in a Try Hockey For Free session, group Learn to Skate lessons and public Skating.
The Rinks has led the league with affordable and accessible avenues to hockey with two development beginner programs. The first being, the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play Hockey Program, powered by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, provides an affordable way for both youth and adults to get started playing hockey. The program offers first-time hockey players a chance to get on the rink, play hockey, and borrow a full set of hockey equipment for free. For those already comfortable skating, but new to hockey, The Rinks offers, in conjunction with the National Hockey League’s Learn to Play initiative, The Little Ducks Hockey Initiation Program – a six-week, low-cost program that provides participants with their own set of free hockey equipment to keep.
Additionally, The Rinks runs special programs for women and girls, including the highly-acclaimed Anaheim Lady Ducks program. Continuing to outpace the USA Hockey projected growth for girls programs in the country, the Lady Ducks now field 12 girls teams, with the addition of another 14U team and includes two track-level Southern California Amateur Hockey Association 8U teams. While the on-ice accomplishments are incredible, the off-ice accomplishments are even more outstanding as over 100 players have been signed to scholarships at the Division I and III collegiate levels as the program focuses on developing not only good hockey players, but molding the individual as well.
Although Hockey Is For Everyone month is celebrated in February, The Rinks is committed to making hockey programs accessible for all every month of the year. The Rinks strives to offer a variety of different programs for boys and girls of all ages and skill levels, and different outlets to enjoy the sport.
— Amy Wesson