USA Hockey Magazine

February 2015

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Hockey in Michigan has enjoyed a long tradition of excellence. With so much his- tory comes a competitiveness among teams and towns, where players battle hard for on-ice supremacy. But for two 12 & Under girls' teams, that competitive spirit was put on hold over the course of two Saturdays in December as the Kensington Valley Ravens and the Grand Rapids Amateur Hockey Association Panthers came together to honor the sacrifice and service of those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces. The event was the idea of Doug Fowler, a coach with the Kensington Valley Ravens. Through the sale of special T-shirts, along with the generos- ity of local sponsors and those in attendance, the two teams raised more than $4,000 for the Wounded Warriors Project. During the home-and-home series, the home team wore camouflaged jerseys and pre- game festivities featured a local Marine Corp color guard and special national anthem singers. The highlight of the event was appearances from Larry Hicks, a World War II veteran from Grand Rapids, and Lance Cpl. Bobby Thrailkill, a mem- ber of the Grand Rapids Sled Wings who lost both his legs while serving in Afghanistan. Both veterans participated in the ceremonial puck drop and greeted the players. With all the pregame excite- ment, the games almost seemed like an afterthought for both teams. Still, it was a moving experi- ence for everyone involved and something that these young hockey players will never forget. "The cool thing about it is you have two teams from dif- ferent sides of the state who are competitive, but they came together to acknowledge those who have sacrificed so much for people," said Grand Rapids coach Kim Hildebrand. "Someday they'll look back and say 'wow' and realize what an amazing moment this was." on the fly USA HOCKEY PEOPLE & PROGRAMS PHOTOS COURTESY OF Eileen Granata; Bob Chizmazia; Jean Laxton; Michelle Thrawl 10 FEBRUARY.2015 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM 10 on the fly USA HOCKEY PEOPLE & PROGRAMS Casey Chizmazia was only two years old when she lost her mother Ann after a courageous battle with ALS. Now a member of the Connecticut Polar Bears 14 & Under team and the Rumsey Hall Girls' varsity squad, Casey is using her talents as a goaltender to raise money for ALS research. People can make a one-time dona- tion or a pledge for each save she makes dur- ing the season. Casey will play in approximately 50 games this season between both teams and figures to face an average of 10 to 20 shots per game. Her goal for the season is to raise $2,000 for Project A.L.S., which uses 100 percent of donations for research toward amyo- trophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. To learn more or to make a donation, go to Casey's Facebook page for Making Saves For ALS at Teen Goalie Makes Saves For ALS Research MICHIGAN GIRLS FACE OFF TO HONOR VETERANS Midgets Making Spirits Bright Michelle Thrawl couldn't be more proud of her 16-year-old son Liam and the local hockey community in Illinois. Through Liam's perseverance and the generosity of players and parents associated with two of USA Hockey's marquee programs, 129 gifts were collected for the children of St. Jude's Children's Hospital as part of their "Midgets Making Spirits Bright" gift drive. Normally fierce competitors on the ice, members of the Mission organization and Team Illinois came together to put a smile on the faces of extraordinary kids during the holiday season. "It's so heart warming to see these hometown rivals come together for such a good cause," Thrawl said. "It's become such a tradition that parents always ask about the drive because every- one looks forward to it." The toy drive began three years ago but it's an idea that started when Thrawl's grandmother insisted that rather than buy her presents at Christmas, family members pur- chase telephone call- ing cards in her name and donate them to St. Jude's. That inspired Liam, who plays with Team Illinois' 16 & Under squad, to start a gift drive that has grown over time. This year's response filled three giant boxes and had to be shipped on a pallet to St. Jude's in Memphis, Tenn. Liam is already making plans to expand the gift drive to include other teams within the TI and Mission organizations, a massive undertaking but one that mom is confident her son can pull off. "There are kids who are less fortunate and who would love to play hockey but can't," she said. "That's why this is such a great message for all the kids to be thankful for what they have and to reach out and help others." When it comes to Christmas morning, no child should wake up to an empty stocking or no presents under the tree. That's why members of the Steel City Selects Girls' hockey program hosted a toy drive during their Heartland Girls' Hockey League games on Dec. 20. The Naperville Sabers AA 19U from Chicago, the Michigan Ice Dogs AA 19U from Detroit and the Columbus (Ohio) Blue Jackets AA 19U also showed their holiday spirit by donating new unwrapped toys to support the local Marine Corps Reserve. In total, more than 150 toys were donated. "We are so excited to have so many players support this great cause, especially with the shortage of toys and support this year to the Toys for Tots program," said Eileen Granata, president of the Steel City Selects. STEEL CITY SELECTS SHOW HEARTS OF GOLD

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