Attention hockey fans: The New York Rangers will be coming to Saratoga Springs, and they are putting their best foot forward for youth hockey. saratoga living is pleased to announce that the New York City-based National Hockey League team has officially partnered Saratoga Youth Hockey (the Spa City’s youth hockey nonprofit) to provide programming that aims to increase accessibility to the sport. This announcement was made at Saratoga Youth Hockey’s Fall Classic match between the Bethlehem Eagles & the Saratoga Blue Knights at Weibel Avenue in Saratoga.
Melinda Guyett (executive board member, tournament and special events director at Saratoga Youth Hockey) says, “This [partnership] is really to benefit our community, to give access to young Warrior Hockey gloves players to join the organization and really develop hockey.” The new partnership will see the Rangers send up staff members, including coaches, trainers, and players, once a week to provide on-ice skill sessions (including learn how-to-skate or learn-to play classes) for Saratoga youth hockey members.
The fall and winter sessions will have three pro-taught sessions. (The first session has already started). Each session lasts ten weeks and includes a one-hour lesson each week. All gear is included in the cost. Learn more about the program and sign up your children here. Guyett says that “[our players] will] learn basic skills such as skating and stick handling, passing, shooting, and passing in these sessions.”
The Rangers will also assist in the development of Saratoga Youth Hockey’s two brand-new all girls hockey teams. Although the community-based organization has been teaching hockey to girls ever since 1976, this season will see the debut of Saratoga Youth Hockey’s first tournament-bound girls team and its first development team for younger girls players. Both teams share the name Saratoga Blue Knights. Frank Ovitt (President of Saratoga Youth Hockey) says, “It’s something that we do to keep them interested in hockey and to give [them] a sense of being on a] team. It also helps us move the girl’s programme forward.”
Amanda Kessel, an Olympic gold medalist in hockey and professional hockey player for New Jersey Metropolitan Riveters will be visiting Saratoga to help the new all-girls hockey teams at a few hockey-themed events. These include a girls-only hockey free skating and an all-girls “Try Hockey for Free Day” later in the year. Kessel and other Rangers representatives will provide on-ice training for girls who signed up to this season’s hockey sessions.
Brian Mullen, a former Rangers left-winger and who has been teaching the Rangers’ youth hockey program for three years, is one of the representatives. He played in the NHL for 11 seasons and was a part of the Rangers’ original youth hockey program. Mullen says that despite having the worst day in your life, he finds a way to smile when he gets out on the ice with the kids. This will be his first time visiting Spa City as part of Saratoga Youth Hockey’s new partnership program. It sounds beautiful and I look forward to it.