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Wyatt Christiansen, an NHL/TMCF recipient.

Wyatt Christiansen, an NHL/TMCF recipient.

Congratulations to Wyatt Christiansen, Cassidy Guthrie, and Austin Verissimo, the 2015 NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund academic scholarship recipients.

The three winners, each hockey players who participated in one of the National Hockey League-affiliated Hockey is for Everyone programs, were announced  last week at an event at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Christiansen is a defenseman from Calgary’s Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) program. He intends to major in business at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Guthrie, a hockey player for 11 years, hails from Ohio’s Columbus Ice Hockey Club.

Cassidy Guthrie.

Cassidy Guthrie.

She’s currently a sophomore at Miami University, where she’s a member of the school’s women’s club hockey team. Her scholarship will cover her remaining two years at the university.

Verissimo has played hockey for three years and is a member of New Jersey’s Hockey in Newark program. He’s interested in studying finance and has set his sights on attending Cornell University in New York.

“At the National Hockey League, it is our priority to do whatever we can to encourage young hockey players to pursue their education as eagerly as they pursue the puck,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the announcement event attended by Washington Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis, Thurgood Marshall College Fund President & CEO Johnny Taylor, USA Hockey Senior Communications Director Dave Fischer, and the Stanley Cup. “We want to connect the skills of skating and passing with the disciplines of study and passion for learning, to link the joys of scoring goals on ice with the importance of setting goals off the ice, and one of the ways we pursue those objectives is through our support of the NHL/Thurgood Marshall Scholarship.”

Austin Verissimo.
Austin Verissimo.

The NHL and TMCF have partnered to award scholarships to academically-eligible Hockey is for Everyone players since 2012. Hockey is For Everyone programs are nonprofit organizations across North America.

The programs provide youth of all backgrounds the chance to play hockey at little or no cost and serve as a means to encourage them to stay in school. In addition, participants learn essential life skills through the core values of hockey: commitment, perseverance, and teamwork.

Money for the scholarships is generated in part from an annual charity hockey game played between a team with members of Congress and a squad of Washington lobbyists.

The lawmakers defeated the lobbyists 3-2 in the game played last week at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the Capitals’ practice facility. Rep. John Katko, a Republican from New York, scored the winning goal with an assist from former Washington Capitals great Peter Bondra.

The event raised more than $100,000 and gave the lawmakers team – which included Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), Eric Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) – bragging rights for another year.

“It couldn’t have been any more fun,” Katko told Syracuse.com. “It was a great charity event. We skated with wounded warriors. One of my great, great heroes is Peter Bondra. I told him before the game, I said ‘Peter, you’re from Slovakia, my father’s from Slovakia (with) his family, you’ve got to get me a goal.’ And he got me the game-winner. It was great.”