Blaine, Minn. (March 19, 2013) – The 2012-13 hockey season may be winding down across the State of Hockey, but for 97 Minneapolis-area kids, they’re just now getting the best ice of the season.
As part of its mission to “improve the game; improve the players; and increase their opportunities to play” the Herb Brooks Foundation (HBF) is operating the Herb Brooks Spring Hockey Clinic. The four week program, which started March 10 and runs until April 7, is held every Sunday at the Schwan Super Rink on the campus of the National Sports Center in Blaine.
HBF Director of Hockey Joe Dziedzic, a former Gopher and NHL player with the Penguins and Coyotes, heads up the instructional program, with the support of volunteer coaches from the Minneapolis Police Activities League and other volunteers.
The goal is to take kids ages 7-13 and improve their skating and hockey skills, and also to just have fun learning a sport most have played only on a limited basis.
“Many of the kids attending this program would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a program like this,” said HBF Executive Director John McClellan. “First of all it’s free, and there is no equipment barrier. We provide skates, sticks and helmets at no charge to those who need it.”
The equipment is provided by a grant by the National Hockey League Players Association.
There is even help with transportation. Pastor Dale Hulme of St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Minneapolis has organized his New Horizons Youth Ministry to provide transportation to Blaine for a limited number of the participants.
Thirty different Minneapolis elementary and middle schools are represented in the program (complete list below.)
The success of the HBF Spring Hockey Clinic comes on the heels of the largest Rink Rats winter program the Foundation has managed. Rink Rats is a school-based after-school program in which Minneapolis kids skate outdoors on Minneapolis Parks rinks. This year 125 kids participated in that program, and a record number of schools participated. Like the Spring Clinic, Rink Rats is free and equipment is provided at no cost.
“The two programs serve different groups of kids,” said McClellan. “So we’re looking at well over 200 young players who safe to say, would probably not be on the ice without these programs.”
Here is a complete list of the Minneapolis schools sending young hockey players to the Herb Brooks Spring Hockey Clinic at the Schwan Super Rink: Annunciation, Anwatin Middle School, Armitage, Bancroft, Barton, Bel-Aire, Burroughs, Carondelet, Emerson, Fair, Field, Hale, Hmong International Academy, Lake Harriet, Kenwood, Kipp, Jenny Lind, Loring, Marcy, Meadow Lake, Neil, Robinson Middle School, St. Charles, Seward, Southview, Stanford, Waite Park, Whittier, Wilshire Park and Yinghua Academy.