WEST ORANGE, NJ - On Tuesday, July 16 more than fifty West Orange children took to the ice at Richard Codey Arena to beat the heat and receive their first introduction to organized ice hockey through the Mountain Top League’s latest pilot program in partnership with the West Orange High School Ice Hockey program.
The evening’s ice slot was the first of a series of summer ice that will entail six clinics running through August 19. The clinic was offered to girls and boys ages 5-16, but generally consisted of early elementary aged children. No equipment or experience was needed. Rental skates were supplied free of charge to the newest group of skaters. Ice hockey is an expensive sport, the clinic offered families a very unique opportunity for their children to sample the sport at an affordable price point.
“We want more kids to play hockey and we want to do it inexpensively because introductory costs are high” Says MTL organizer Brad Palent.
New WOHS Head Hockey coach Eddie Scafidi was on hand directing the young players and laying the foundation for the future of West Orange Ice Hockey. West Orange does not currently have a feeder program of any sort for kids interested in hockey. Players either begin freshmen year of high school or join a club at a nearby rink. Coach Scafidi was brought in this past spring to change the culture of West Orange Hockey and this clinic is the first big step in doing so.
“I’m glad the initiative is being taken to get West Orange kids skating at a young age. There is a rink right here in town and it’s great the town has finally organized ice for these young skaters” Says WOHS Senior Captain Jonathan Miller
The clinic was kicked off with Mayor Robert Parisi leading the skaters onto the ice for a few warm-up laps. Each player was evaluated and placed into separate sections on the ice depending on experience. The newest skaters laced up figure skates to get a feel for the ice and more importantly to forge good habits before they graduate to the ice hockey skate. An army of volunteers made up of coaches, Dads, and WOHS players were on the ice to assist the children for the hour and a half clinic. Drills varied between each section; however the main focus was on skating and having fun. As the clinic went on the skaters slowly began to warm up to the idea of skating alone and unassisted. Slowly but surely their tiny grips loosened off the boards and they would venture out into open ice. For the young skaters and West Orange Hockey as a whole, things can only get better.