This season, the New York Rangers and Garden of Dreams Foundation launched the first ever Rangers and Garden of Dreams Power Players program. The introductory street hockey program kicked off in November and culminated in a round robin tournament on January 27. Throughout the program, children from three Garden of Dreams partner organizations participated in six weeks of instruction to learn basic hockey skills and life skills led by Rangers’ Hockey Development staff and were exposed to various facets of the game.
The Rangers and Garden of Dreams Power Players program prides itself on six values: Commitment, Excellence, Fun, Respect, Responsibility and Teamwork. At each weekly clinic, one value was stressed by the Rangers’ Hockey Development instructors to help reinforce important life lessons that the children may have learned previously at home or in the classroom.
The three Garden of Dreams partner organizations that participated in this year’s Power Players program were Children’s Aid Society, Harlem Dowling and WHEDco. Each partner location had 25 children participating. As a part of the program, all three partner locations received street hockey equipment at the launch in November to store and utilize throughout the program and in the future.
On November 16, 17 and 21, the program officially kicked off with launch events at WHEDco, Children’s Aid Society and Harlem Dowling respectively. On November 16, Rangers forward Erik Christensen and Blueshirt Legend Adam Graves were on hand to help the kids at WHEDco get started with the program and learn basic hockey techniques. On November 17, Steve Eminger made an appearance at Children’s Aid Society to sign autographs and pass along valuable hockey tips. On November 21, Artem Anisimov joined the Harlem Dowling children at PS 161 to offer advice and help make their introduction to hockey that day extra special.
After kicking off the program with special appearances by Rangers players in November, the children went about their business learning the game with their designated instructors from the Rangers Hockey Development staff. Over the course of six weeks, the program participants enjoyed learning all about the game of hockey and prepared for the final tournament scheduled for Friday, January 27.
On January 27, the children from all three partner organizations gathered at WHEDco’s gymnasium to celebrate their completion of the program and to have an opportunity to play against new competition in the first ever Power Players Tournament of Champions. Nick Fotiu and Brian Mullen joined the kids for this special event, which featured introductions, music, giveaways, awards and more! Joe Tolleson, the Rangers in-arena announcer at MSG, served as host for the tournament as the children displayed pure excitement throughout, even on the bleachers where they cheered on their teammates and waited their turn to get into the action. At the conclusion of the event, each child was recognized for their achievement by receiving a medal, certificate of completion, a photo plaque with their team picture featured as well as their very own personalized Rangers jersey! All in all, the Power Players program was a tremendous success and proved to be very enjoyable for the kids, who will soon attend a game at Madison Square Garden as guests of the Rangers and Garden of Dreams.
Story provided by the New York Rangers