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NHL Legend O'Ree to Visit HP Pavilion on March 22

Icon Will Drop First Puck at NORCAL Youth Championship at Oakland Ice Center

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 2:59 PM / News

SAN JOSE, California –
Willie O’Ree, the first African-American athlete to play in the NHL and long-time Ambassador of the National Hockey League’s Hockey Is For Everyone (HIFE) initiative, will return to the Bay Area on March 22-23.

Mr. O’Ree broke hockey’s color barrier when he made his debut with the Boston Bruins in a game against the Montreal Canadiens on January 18, 1958. Since he became involved with HIFE in 1998, he has spent extensive time traveling around North America to share his story, and to encourage young people to strive for their goals and get a good education.

The visit will begin at HP Pavilion on Thursday evening, March 22, when the Bruins take on the San Jose Sharks. Mr. O’Ree will be joined at the game by players and coaches from the Oakland Bears youth hockey club, and other members of the Oakland community. The Bears are part of the Sharks Ice HIFE program at the Oakland Ice Center Operated By Sharks Ice (OIC).

On Friday morning, March 23, Mr. O’Ree will visit with students at Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland’s Chinatown district. That afternoon, he will head to the OIC to speak with high school students from the American Indian Public Charter School enrolled in an ice sports physical education class at the rink. The OIC partners with Oakland Unified School District and the City of Oakland to provide free and low-cost instructional and recreational opportunities for thousands of Oakland children each year.

At 5 p.m. on Friday evening, Mr. O’Ree will drop the first puck at the Northern California Junior Hockey Association (NCJHA) championships to be held at the OIC. This will provide a unique opportunity for youth hockey players from a broad geographical area to meet Mr. O’Ree, as teams travel from as far as Fresno and Lake Tahoe for the event.

The NCJHA championships are scheduled to take place at the OIC over the weekends of March 23-25 and March 30-April 1. Admission is free for spectators, and a complete schedule of events is available on the NCJHA website at norcalyouthhockey.com.

For more information, please contact Melissa Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@sharksice.com.

Hockey is for Everyone™ (HIFE) is the National Hockey League's official youth development program. HIFE provides support and unique programing to non-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering children of all backgrounds opportunities to play hockey. The HIFE initiative leverages the sport of hockey as a catalyst to help children learn essential life skills, education and the core values of hockey: commitment, perseverance, and teamwork.

The Oakland Ice Center Operated By Sharks Ice, opened in 1995, is one of Northern California’s premier ice arenas, boasting two ice surfaces (one NHL regulation and one Olympic size), ten locker rooms, a ballet studio, three party/conference rooms, full service snack bar and pro shop, and many other amenities. Since taking over management of the facility in 2007, Sharks Ice has grown and expanded the rink’s programming, which now includes public skating, hockey, figure skating, speedskating, curling, broomball, and a full range of classes for youth and adults, beginning through advanced levels.

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