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Hundreds of Kids Try 'Ice Hockey for Free'

Town program lets young residents and parents sample the game with members of the Rangers.

Hundreds of young people took part in The Town of Oyster Bay's "Try Hockey for Free" program recently.

The joint initiative with the New York Rangers gives youngsters the chance to sample ice hockey. The event was held at the town’s Ice Skating Center in Bethpage.

“Youngsters, under the watchful eye of New York Rangers and Town of Oyster Bay instructors, were provided with equipment to participate in a free clinic, introducing them to the exciting sport of ice hockey,” said Supervisor John Venditto. “The session also gave parents the opportunity to assess if the sport of ice hockey is a good fit for their youngster, without making an initial financial commitment.”

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Participants had an opportunity to meet New York Rangers’ alumni Brian Mullen, a stand-out with the Blue Shirts from 1987 to 1991. Mullen was named an NHL All Star in 1989 and joined his brother, Hall of Famer Joey Mullen, as part of the first American born brother combination to play in the same NHL All-Star Game.

The “Try Hockey for Free” program is part of a nationwide effort by USA Hockey to provide youngsters of all economic backgrounds, an opportunity to play hockey. In the Town of Oyster Bay, the endeavor has been advanced through the New York Rangers’ “Future Rangers” program. Venditto said the New York Rangers have forged a special relationship with the Town of Oyster Bay, making them a premier partner for its special outreach projects and programs.

“This bond was created over the years, as the iconic franchise appreciated the Town’s top flight facilities and its outstanding youth ice hockey program, which is well known for making the sport accessible to participants of all economic backgrounds,” Venditto said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to get the chance to play the greatest game on Earth,” said Rangers legend Adam Graves. “These are kids that might not otherwise be able to experience the game of hockey. They are sure to love it and hopefully this ignites a lifelong passion for the sport.”

Recent events at the ice skating center have included top flight high school and collegiate contests, visits by National Hockey League Players, an exclusive showing of the Stanley Cup, and an appearance by National Hockey League pioneer Willie O’Ree, who broke the sport’s color barrier while skating for the Boston Bruins in 1958.

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