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Rangers Outdoor Hockey Festival, helping to bridge legends with local area youth

Rangers-greats interacting with fans during Outdoor Hockey Festival. Photo by: Stacy Podelski

The New York Rangers held their second part, of a four day ‘Hockey Weekend,’ in Wollman Rink in Central Park. As the Blueshirts Outdoor Hockey Festival were able to bring Blueshirts Alumni Chris FerraroPeter FerraroNick Fotiu and Ron Greschner in to aid in free lessons, clinics and public skating sessions to fans both old and young.

The ‘Hockey Week Across America’ is a program started by USA Hockey in helping to promote the sport of hockey not only at the national level, but at the local area-providing opportunities for those who have not yet touch the ice an opportunity to play hockey…learning the passion, history and tradition of the sport.

“Starting kids out at an early age and helping them to learn about the sport of hockey and about the New York Rangers,” said Nick Fotiu on the importance of Youth Hockey. “It is important for these kids to learn the Rangers tradition and that is what we are doing right now is giving them a little bit of that Blueshirts tradition.”

Fotiu, who was the first Staten Island born player to wear the Rangers sweater, dropped in to lend a hand with skating lessons with Long Island-natives Chris and Peter Ferraro in making the day of several younger fans in attendance.

“It is important to introduce the sport of hockey to the younger children, because it helps in giving them the vision of playing hockey,” said Chris Ferraro to Examiner.com. “It inspired us and we were able to live the dream and here we are now-the tides have turned and we are giving back to the community and it is the most rewarding thing for us personally.”

Chris and Peter were the second set of identical twins to play for the Blueshirts, having enjoyed success at every level from collegiately to professionally.

“The sport of hockey has brought us to where we are today and teaching young kids now,” said Peter Ferraro. “We love everything about what we are doing right now in giving back to youth hockey and helping their development today.”

The Rangers have always had a great legacy of giving back to the New York City-area, and that is something that Chris spoke about at the Outdoor Hockey Festival.

“The New York Rangers have done a great job with reaching out to its local community,” Chris said. “As an organization they are having a very successful season this year, but that is not what it is all about-it is the impact they make on the community and introducing the sport of hockey that we can relate too.”

Ron Greschner, who is ranked-12th in the all-time New York Rangers in the book 100 Rangers Greats agreed with the sentiments of Chris, praising the Blueshirts for the work that has been done in the community.

“What the Rangers do for youth hockey and all the stuff that they do is amazing,” said Greschner. “The Rangers do so much for hockey-they do so much for the Alumni and it is really amazing the thing that they are involved with, it is beyond what anyone can imagine.”

Though Greschner is a native of Saskatchewan, Canada, one could tell the 16-year veteran is a proud New Yorker, and was very proud to have been a part of the Outdoor Hockey Festival on Saturday.

“When I was a kid I wanted to play for the Rangers, when I got older I wanted to play for the Rangers, when I turned 19 I got to play for the team-I have lived here my whole life my kids are born here, basically we all live here I’ve been here for 38 years and I’m not going anywhere,” Greschner said.

The Outdoor Hockey Festival was about the future of the sport of hockey, which is very bright, as was evident by the number of younger faces skating on the Wollman Rink ice. It didn’t matter if you were taking the ice for the first time or the 10th; it was all about having a great time and learning the passion for the sport of hockey.

“It is great –it is a great day for USA Hockey-it is a great day for the Rangers,” said Nick Fotiu. “Every year that we do this it is a great turnout the kids came out and enjoyed themselves and that is what it is all about is them enjoying the day and having fun.”

Part Three of this four-day celebration will take place, when the New York Rangers take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden at 8:00 p.m.  There will be a pre-game forum for youth hockey players hosted by MSG Network broadcaster John Giannone and Rangers alumni featuring Nick Fotiu, Adam Graves and Brian Mullen; along with the in-game presentation of the 5th Annual Emile Francis award for youth hockey volunteerism.

The official recap, videos and pictures from this story were from the Examiner.com site on 2/19/12-which can be seen here:


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