The RBC Peewee A Jackals travelled to New York City and area from February 19-23 for what was a hockey trip of a lifetime! This trip combined playing exhibition hockey games with getting to see what happens behind the scenes with the New York Rangers during gamedays!
On Thursday, Feb.19th, the team was invited to take in the pregame skates. We watched the Rangers players practice first. It was an optional skate and was lightly attended, but yet Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis were there, practicing and working on aspects of their game that they felt needed work. Martin St. Louis left the ice early, but he stood for 10 minutes with the players, smiling for selfies and pictures with the Jackals! The Canucks were next, and this skate had more players attend. It was fun to see the players do drills that we do in peewee. The Sedins didn’t practice, but they were at rinkside, chatting with the Jackals and posed for a group photo! Eddie Lack also stopped and let the Jackals take a group picture! One lucky Jackal even got a stick! After practices were over, the Jackals got their own personal tour of Madison Square Garden.
On Thursday night we watched the Rangers battle the Canucks, but not before Ben Williams and Joshua French went on the ice as the flag bearers for the Rangers as the team made their way onto the ice for the game! They did one lap around the ice in front of 18,000 screaming fans. Pretty intense! The game was a seesaw affair that saw the Canucks prevail in a shootout 5-4.
On Friday we made our way to White Plains, New York. This is where the Rangers, Knicks and Liberty training and practice facilities is located. The Rangers were in Buffalo for a game, so the Jackals did some shopping and sightseeing before their game. After a visit to Pure Hockey, we travelled to Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut to play the Connecticut Junior Rangers. What a facility this place is! Two Hockey rinks, Baseball, Basketball, Squash, Gymnastics, Swimming, all in one building! The game was a success as The Jackals defeated the Rangers 5-3.
Saturday was a busy one for the Jackals. First, we had a tour of the Rangers practice facility. Coach Williams gave us the VIP tour, which included the video room, the locker room and the weight room. After that we went on the ice for practice with Coach Williams and Coach Mark Ciaccio, the Rangers strength and skating coach. A great practice and a great photo op!
After practice and some lunch we played our next game at Terry Connors Rink in Stamford, Connecticut against the Greenwich Blues. The game was a good one which saw the Jackals defeat the Blues 5-2. Before the game, Alex Kovalev was coaching his son in an Atom game. He stopped by the dressing room and spoke to the team and posed for a picture! We then had to travel 45 minutes to Ramapo, New York for a late game against the Ramapo Saints. This game didn’t go as well, as the Jackals lost a rough and tumble affair 7-1.
On Sunday morning we packed the bus and went to watch the Rangers practice, but not before we were escorted to the cafeteria to have brunch courtesy of the Rangers! That was unexpected, and good! The practice lasted for an hour with many of the players waving and banging the glass at our boys. When practice was over, we boarded the bus for NYC and the Rangers game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This game also went into overtime and a shootout, but this time the Rangers won 4-3. After the game, Coach Williams gave us a tour of the Ranger dressing room where the Jackals met Dominic Moore, Carl Hagelin and Mackenzie Skapski. Many of the Jackals had purchased Rangers jerseys as a memento of the trip, and they are all autographed by the player whose name is on the back of their jersey!
Like all good trips, this one came to an end with a return to St. John’s for most on Monday. However the memories that these young players have from this trip will last a lifetime. The Jackals would like to personally thank Darryl and Nancy Williams and the New York Rangers Hockey Club for going the extra mile in making this trip a once in a lifetime event. We would also like to thank our manager, Sue Gladney for organizing the events and making it go smoothly. It was a trip that will never be forgotten by all who went!