Rangers fan hockey fever on Vannie ice
By Andy Gross
The Van Cortlandt Park Ice Skating Rink was bustling on a recent Sunday with some young students learning how to dig the edge of their skates into the ice and control a puck with the blade of a hockey stick while gliding down the ice and dodging opponents.
The students, who were 10-years-old and younger, were learning basic ice hockey skills from a few highly skilled and legendary players who are part of the “Try Hockey for Free” program, a community outreach initiative of the New York Rangers in coordination with USA Hockey.
The players leading the clinic included National Hockley League (NHL) great Dave Maloney, who played nearly 11 seasons with the New York Rangers as a defenseman. He was the youngest player ever named captain of the iconic New York hockey team founded in 1926 — one of the original six teams of the NHL.
Mr. Maloney said the outdoor rink at Van Cortlandt Park reminded him of his childhood growing up in Ontario, where he learned to skate and play hockey outdoors on frozen Canadian ponds.
“It’s sort of a throwback, kind of old school,” said Mr. Maloney, who works as a commentator this season on Ranger radio broadcasts, after leading his young charges through their drills. “We had a great time with the kids and it is great to play outdoors.”
NHL Hall of Fame forward Glenn Anderson, who won five Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers and another with the Rangers in 1994, joined Mr. Maloney to help conduct the clinic.
Three 45-minute sessions were offered at no cost with equipment provided. The young players learned how to keep their balance on the ice using the blade edges on their skates, basic stick handling skills, how to evade opponents and how to fall to the ice and get back up on their skates.
Van Cortlandt Park Ice Skating Rink Hockey Director Sean Prince said between 180 and 200 children attended the event, which was designed for students with little or no hockey experience.
Rabbi Leonard Guttman said his son Eathan, 8, attended an event and wants to continue playing hockey.