ANN ARBOR, Mich. – December has been a busy month for USA Hockey’s National Team Development program both on and off the ice. On top of a hectic schedule of road games within the United States Hockey League and against NCAA collegiate foes, the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams have had a schedule stuffed with charitable events and appearances in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area.
Last week, both teams hosted the annual holiday party to celebrate the contributions of USA Hockey's host families at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor on Dec. 10. The generous families that have opened their homes to players were treated to dinner, dessert, and a special treat that saw Christmas carols sung by the players and Santa Claus visiting the children. As part of the festivities, the NTDP collected new toys for the Salvation Army Toy Drive, amassing over 100 toys to donate to the less fortunate this holiday season.
Most recently, the Under-17 and Under-18 Teams continued the long-standing tradition of ringing bells to benefit the Salvation Army at six locations throughout Ann Arbor. While members of the NTDP staff captained each location, teams of four players interacted with shoppers, spreading holiday cheer and raising money for the worthy cause. In total, $866.91 was raised ringing bells.
With Christmas quickly approaching, the Under-18 Team will continue to reach out within its community with an appearance at the Briarwood Mall (100 Briarwood Circle) in Ann Arbor from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday (Dec. 19). Players will be on hand at the indoor skating rink located just outside JC Penney, giving away free gifts, signing autographs, and posing for pictures.
Both teams will enjoy time off from their busy holiday schedules next week before returning to action. The U.S. National Under-17 Team will travel to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to participate in the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge Dec. 28-Jan. 4, while the U.S. National Under-18 Team faces Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on Dec. 31, at 4 p.m. EST.