Season In Review: Community
The first season of Adirondack Flames hockey saw the organization place a focus on getting players into various parts of the communities that comprise the Adirondacks. Spearheaded by a strong commitment to youth hockey, the Flames players, coaches and front office staff participated in 35 community appearances throughout the season.
Today is Part 2 of our 2014-15 "Season In Review" series, as we take a look at the Flames' presence at community events.
The Flames were led in the community by their IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award winner, Mathieu Tousignant, who was honored for his outstanding contributions to the North Country community during the 2014-15 season. Tousignant embraced the local community from the day he arrived since the Flames arrived for training camp in September. In just one season, Tousignant became a fan favorite at the Glens Falls Civic Center, winning fans over with his all-out efforts both on and off the ice.
Over his time in the Adirondacks, Tousignant visited with local children at youth centers, camps and youth hockey practices, making his mark in Glens Falls and surrounding areas in just a short time. Tousignant visited both the Glens Falls Youth Center and Double H Ranch, a camp in Lake Luzerne, NY, where he experienced adaptive skiing with members of the Ranch who would not be able to experience the sport anywhere else. Tousignant was also a frequent visitor to Adirondack Youth Hockey practices throughout the winter, where he worked with youth hockey players from learn-to-skate through pee wee levels.
Tousignant, Sena Acolatse, Bryce Van Brabant and Turner Elson visited the Double H Ranch on February 16 during school vacation, with the ranch packed full of skiers. The Ranch, which has a fully functional mountain, gives everyone the opportunity to ski with an adaptive skiing program, which Tousignant got the chance to experience with a downhill expedition.
The Flames also activated a partnership with the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, NY. The Double H Ranch provides personalized services and activities for children with disabilities and life threatening illnesses. The team ran a ""Double H Walk-A-Thon / Skate-A-Thon" at the Glens Falls Civic Center, where fans got the opportunity to skate on the ice, as well as earn a shirt and a Flames ticket by donating to the Ranch. The event raised over $5,000 and led into a player appearance at the Ranch in February.
Tousignant was one of many players involved with the Adirondack Youth Hockey Association. Beginning with the flip of the calendar to January and 2015, the Flames sent players to one or two AYHA practices each week, with the players participating in drills and helping to teach the young players. AYHA coaches and parents alike raved about the presence of the players at practices, as the players brought their professional insight on the ice and personable nature to the kids off the ice, signing autographs and taking pictures with the youngsters.
A first for the area, Tousignant and Ryan Culkin made a visit to the Glens Falls Youth Center in December. Culkin and Tousignant played a number of activities with the kids, including ping pong, pool, basketball and foosball. The two players showed off their skills on the ping pong table but Mathieu was unable to best the locals in a spirited game of knockout. The day ended as the players joined in on a group game of dodgeball. The Flames left a youth jersey with the Center for the kids to wear at future home games they attended and the Flames donated tickets for the kids to be guests of the team and players.
Van Brabant and Garnet Hathaway represented the Flames at Glens Falls Hospital during December, where they met a young girl named Serenity. The two rookie forwards brought Adirondack Flames jerseys for the kids, as well as the offer to come to a future Flames' game as their guest once they were feeling better, which Serenity took the guys up on later in the season. It was a fun filled afternoon for everyone involved, which consisted of watching the Disney Channel and playing with stuffed animals a time that was enjoyed by the players, kids, families, and the hospital staff as well.
The Flames were also present with education, as Turner Elson and Max Reinhart visited Lake George Elementary school in March for a presentation on physical fitness and healthy living. The players talked about the benefits of living a healthy life style and the Flames donated a ticket to each student who attended. John Ramage and Ben Hanowski met with younger children, as they visited World Class Kids Pre-School in Queensbury to read to a young class of students.
An event that included the entire team, players and coaches included, was the Lake George Winter Carnival, where the players skated with fans on the outdoor ice behind King Neptunes in Lake George. On a frigid Sunday morning, the team took to the ice for a fun skate with local residents in nearly sub-zero temperatures. Despite the harsh conditions, the players and fans alike enjoyed their time and created what will hopefully become a tradition of hockey in the Adirondacks.
The Flames set the basis for what will be an even more involved Adirondack Thunder team. With the seeds planted, the Thunder plan to build upon the programs that were started this season, with a heavier emphasis on the school program and a continuance of the strong youth hockey involvement. The Flames time in Glens Falls was short but the kids and fans who got to experience time with the players have memories that will not soon be forgotten.
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- Season In Review: Community - Adirondack Flames
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