Lots of congratulations to go around for last week’s hockey exploits.
First, congrats to Buffalo Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues. We profiled him earlier in the National Hockey League season as part of a look at the talented players of color on the Rochester Americans, the Sabres American Hockey League farm team.
The Sabres called Rodrigues up and the former Boston University standout responded by scoring his first NHL goal Saturday in his second game in the bigs.
The tally came against the New York Islanders and rookie goaltender Christopher Gibson, another player of color who earned plaudits last week when he backstopped a 4-3 comeback overtime victory against the Washington Capitals in his first NHL start.
Gibson was unable to pull off a second miracle Saturday and he lost to the Sabres 4-3 in overtime.
Hockey high-fives also go to Akeem Adesiji, Prasanthan Aruchunan, Katherine Baker, and Ava Olsen, the 2016 recipients of NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund academic scholarships.
The NHL and TMCF have partnered to award scholarships to academically-eligible participants of the league’s Hockey is for Everyone initiative since 2012.
“These outstanding young people are skating toward a bright future,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “While Hockey is for Everyone programs provide the structure, discipline and life lessons that our sport teaches so well, each of our scholarship winners was committed to proving the path to higher education can be paved with ice.”
Hockey is For Everyone programs are nonprofit organizations across North America that 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, program participants learn essential life skills through the core values of hockey: commitment, perseverance, and teamwork.
Adesiji was a center for the Columbus Ice Hockey Club and has been playing the sport since he was eight years old. He intends to study environmental science. Founded in 1999, Columbus Ice serves more than 3,000 youth hockey players each year.
Aruchunan played right wing for the Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) at Toronto’s Jane-Finch Chapter. The program focuses on high-risk communities in Toronto by making hockey accessible to youths in neighborhoods troubled by gangs or drugs.
Aruchunan wants to attend the University of Waterloo and major in mechanical engineering.
“It’s a gift and I have to take advantage of it,” he told NHL.com of the scholarship. “I want to show other kids in my community you can be successful, and I want to be a role model for them. I come from a community where money is an issue for almost everyone. I want to inspire kids in the next generation.”
Baker was a defenseman for Washington D.C.’s Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club. Founded in 1976 by Neal Henderson. it’s the nation’s oldest minority youth hockey program. She started playing hockey at nine years old and aspires to own an arena someday so more kids to play hockey.
Olsen was a center for Philadelphia’s Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. She began playing hockey at 13 and she plans to major in business or marketing in hopes of working in the sports industry as a hockey journalist.
Snider Hockey, created in 2005 by Philadelphia Flyers founder Ed Snider, serves thousands of Philadelphia-area youth by providing full equipment, ice time, and coaching at no cost to their families. Snider has called the foundation his legacy.