The Westfield High School (WHS) Boys Hockey team hosted its 2nd annual #BluePuck event Saturday, Dec. 14.
Community outreach and engagement has been a large focus for these student athletes since 2016. During the 2018-19 season in lieu of organizing a service project here and there, team leaders engaged in fostering goodwill in the community in an ongoing effort under the mission of “Live for Hockey, with Love for Community.” Since the initiative took hold, the team has successfully identified areas where they could be of assistance within local communities.
Through this student run outreach, players identify opportunities that align with the team's mission of giving back to surrounding towns and charitable organizations. As a member of the WHS boys hockey team, players focus on fundamentals on the ice and in their community.
Engagement has included St. Joseph’s Sandwich Drives, Westfield YMCA 5K Run for Everyone, Children’s Specialized Hospital, Dunk Your Kicks (Max Cure Foundation), The Westfield Rink, #BluePuck Skate Event, Boosters Magnet Drive and NJ special needs hockey clubs (Special Olympics, Dare Devils).
#BluePuck is the team’s largest free community event to date hosted for youth hockey players aged 5-10 years old. 2019’s #BluePuck generated enormous excitement with 66 boys and girls registering for the program. The team had nearly 50 players volunteering during the event. Rookies had a tremendous time on and off the ice not only playing hockey, but getting their share of high fives, chatting with WHS players, grabbing photos with the Blue Devil Mascot and having their very own #BluePuck autographed.
Christine Dwan a Westfield resident commented, “My kids are so excited to be here.” Dwan’s sons ages 8 and 10 attended both the inaugural and 2019 #BluePuck. “To my little guys these players are rockstars. They look up to them. As a parent, I love that my boys get to be a part of something that feels magical. Thank you to the high school players for all their hard work in putting this together. We can’t wait for next year.”
“It was so much fun to be with these guys on the ice. They were so excited to get out there and skate with us. It’s truly one of the teams favorite events” said Trevor Tanella, a senior at WHS and varsity team Captain.
Smiles were shared among parents, grandparents, kids and players during the event. It was a remarkable day to live for hockey in Westfield.
“I really liked volunteering and helping the kids. They were excited to have us tie their skates and get them on the ice. Autographing their pucks was pretty fun too.” stated CJ Dencker a freshman on the JV team.
Ice time is extremely expensive and in order to host this event free of charge, players had tremendous community support from local sponsors.
The Westfield Police Athletic League (PAL) was a top sponsor for the event.
John Dugan, PAL President attended this year’s BluePuck.
Dugan commented, “We are so grateful for the impact these young high school athletes are making and the positive role models they are to their youth counterparts in our community. Their efforts align with PAL’s mission of developing the youth of today into the adults of tomorrow. PAL was thrilled to be able to support this outstanding event.”
#BluePuck is a grassroots effort created to bring the community together and connect youth hockey players and their families with high school players on and off the ice. The event this year saw an increase in youth girl participants and the overwhelming response demonstrated the sports growing interest overall.
Dylan Howard, a senior at WHS and alternate varsity captain noted “This is my last year playing for Westfield and I’m happy our team can have an event like this. Many of us will head to college next year. BluePuck is a tradition created for future high school players.”