“It’s too easy to give up” is what Army Sergeant Bryan Dilberian said minutes before taking the ice at Madison Square Garden with his Wheelchair Sports Federation New York Sled Rangers teammates.
Just over four years ago on July 1, 2011, Dilberian, a native of Brooklyn, was on a tour of Afghanistan when he and his fellow soldiers hopped a wall after an encounter with the enemy. He’s quick to mention that they completed the mission, but he lost both his legs and his left arm when he landed on a 30-pound Improvised Explosive Device, or IED. Dilberian also lost his best friend.
“I’m sorry for my friend’s life, but as far as me losing my limbs, I still have one more,” he said with a determined yet joking demeanor.
It’s that demeanor that led Dilberian, 29, to learn to walk with the use of prosthetic legs less than two months after his injury, and that led him to become the first triple amputee to return to active duty despite nearly 30 surgeries to fix his legs, arms, face, chest and back.
“I went through all the pain,” he said. “But pain is weakness leaving the body. Thank God. He gave me the strength to let me do what I do.”
Dilberian was honorably discharged from the military and now works as a candidate investigator for the Fire Department of New York, and also does public speakings.
“It’s not over until the fat lady sings for me,” he said with a laugh, showing again his sense of humor that has helped him find the positive despite so many negatives being thrown his way.
Dilberian is now in his second season with the Sled Rangers, which is affiliated with the Wheelchair Sports Federation and plays in the Northeast Sled Hockey League, and is comprised of over 40 physically disabled athletes, several of whom are disabled vets like Dilberian.
“I love it,” he said. “We travel all over the Northeast coast, playing a bunch of guys, a lot of veterans on the other teams. It’s loads of fun.”
Private First Class Len Lacina was an army M1 Armor Crewman who was left partially paralyzed with memory loss due to an adverse reaction to a medical treatment.
“I’m slowly getting back,” he said Tuesday at The Garden. “Going to be able to walk with leg braces all the way up to the hips and get back on my feet.”
Like Dilberian, Lacina is in his second season playing sled hockey. He started as a defenseman but after an injury to the team’s goalie, he moved between the pipes.
“I’m not bad, and I’m not good,” he said with a laugh.
For Dilberian, a lifelong hockey fan, Tuesday night was extra special to be able to play at The Garden, a place he’d seen so many events at.
“The only time I was ever at MSG was in the seats,” he said with another laugh. “Now, actually being on the ice that NHL players play on, it’s pretty cool.”
Despite what he lost, Dilberian said quitting is not an option.
“It’s too easy to sit on your [butt],” he said. “ I was never that guy to just sit around and do nothing. I was always fighting the fight. At the time, I was 25 years old. I was [in my] prime and I’m still in my prime now. I’m 29 years old. It’s just — keep fighting. The day you quit is the day you let the enemy win.”
This fall, the New York Rangers will host over 3000 kids at 15 Try Hockey For Free events throughout the tri-state area. Falling under the Go Skate! platform, the NY Rangers youth hockey initiative focused on growing the game, children ages 4-10 will be able to receive free loaner equipment and take the ice with the hockey development team for an introductory on-ice lesson.
Each location hosts 3 separate hour long sessions where kids will be provided with free loaner equipment and the chance to meet & skate with a Rangers alumni. “It is quite simply the easiest and best way to introduce these kids to the greatest game on earth. This program is as good as it gets!” said Rangers legend Adam Graves.
The goal of Try Hockey For Free is to allow children to experience the game in a positive environment surrounded by peers who are at the same level of skill. Once complete, parents are provided with information on how their child can continue learning to play the game. Beginners of all levels are welcome from those who have never stepped foot on the ice to those who know how to skate but have never played hockey. Try Hockey For Free sessions will be held during the months of October and November.
Click Here to register for a Try Hockey For Free Session or learn more.
New York Rangers Assist presented by Chase will be taking applications from local rinks and youth hockey programs for the 2015-16 season. The program will choose 2 applicants to receive a $25,000 donation in the form of training supplies and equipment that are needed by the program. The recipient and the New York Rangers will work together to determine what is most needed to help the recipients program/ facility help grow the game of hockey amongst youth in the tri-state area.
In the 2014-15 season, the NY Rangers Assist recipients were the Mackay Ice Rink in Englewood, NJ and the Riverbank State Park Ice Rink in Manhattan. Riverbank State Park provides children with the opportunity to play hockey at a very low cost by keeping their registration fees minimal and providing free loaner equipment to its players. Through the NY Rangers Assist program, Riverbank was provided with new sets of equipment, an off-ice training zone, and cross-ice dashers to break up the ice during practice sessions to make room for more kids on the ice during practices.
Mackay Ice Rink in Englewood, NJ had just re-opened after 2 years of being closed to allow for the finishing repairs from hurricane Sandy. The rink, which was starting from scratch needed help developing an in house youth hockey program for the children from the town of Englewood. The Rangers Assist program was able to provide them with all the tools they needed to run their own program which is taking its first round of registrations this year!
In addition, Rangers Assist will also donate a set of cross-ice dashers to 4 rinks across the tri-state area to promote USA Hockey’s American Development Model which allows more kids on the ice during practice and increase puck touches from players.
For the first time this year, rinks and youth programs can also apply to receive donated equipment that they can utilize for their youth programs to help lower equipment costs that hinder participation. Rangers center Derek Stepan has said of the Assist program, “Collecting equipment for young kids and getting them on the ice, anything that we can do to help is great.”
Click Here to apply for Rangers Assist or learn more about the program.
- His hockey idols growing up were Brian Leetch & Rick Tocchet.
- Watch the video below to find out what Dan’s first time on the ice was like.
- Watch the video below to find out what made Dan first want to play hockey.
- Watch the video below to find out what Dan would be if he was not a hockey player.
- Watch the video below to find out what hockey skill Dan has had to work the hardest at.
For the first time, the New York Rangers will host try outs for youth hockey players ages 11 & 12 to lead the team onto the Garden ice as a flag kid! The program which launched last season provides an incredibly memorable experience for two youth hockey players to hoist the RangersTown flags high and kick off select home games.
Youth hockey players must register to try out in pairs and if selected will be tested on their skating ability and edge control. The try out will be hosted on October 8th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. All attendees should wear their youth hockey jersey and be prepared to take the ice for a series of fun drills.
If chosen, each youth hockey player will receive 2 tickets for themselves and a guardian to attend a select Rangers home game where they will be an integral part of the show open. 2014-15 season flag kid, Pierce Moley said, “It’s just an amazing feeling, you feel like you are part of the team.
Click Here to learn more about the NY Rangers Flag Kid program or register to try out.
- Tanner’s hockey idol growing up was Pavel Bure.
- Click here to find out what Tanner’s first time on the ice was like.
- Click here to find out what made Tanner first want to play hockey.
- Click here to find out what Tanner would be if he wasn’t a professional hockey player.
- Click here to find out what skill Tanner has had to work the hardest at.
For all young kids, daily physical activity is important to ensuring future success; simply keeping them active throughout the summer is the first step in positioning them for success next season. But, moving beyond that basic advice, there are ways to help them prepare specifically for the upcoming hockey season. The types of offseason activities they experience can make a difference.
Enrolling your child in almost any sport will add to their future hockey skill set and athleticism, but invasion sports, like hockey, soccer, basketball and lacrosse, can be especially helpful for improving a child’s overall tactical awareness in a way that translates directly to hockey. Among other things, these invasion sports teach them how to create advantages, like 2-on-1s, that are common to succeeding in hockey. An additional benefit of invasion sports is that they often demand a higher level of exertion and activity, which also translates well for the hockey player.
Another beneficial offseason activity is swimming lessons. Not only is developing the ability to swim important for water safety, it’s also an ambidextrous activity developing the whole body’s movement skills. And it’s low impact.
Simple, old-fashioned “kid stuff,” like riding a bike, is also beneficial. It helps develop their balance while also keeping them in motion, and as long as they keep moving, they’re developing themselves to be better hockey players in the coming season and beyond.
Each day brought new skills to learn and new activities to participate in. Campers, who were split into three age groups, were guaranteed 2.5 hours on the ice each day with a morning and afternoon practice. In addition, campers were taken off the ice for dryland training and recreation time. Recreation time allowed campers to participate in multiple team sports and trust exercises to help prepare them for their upcoming seasons. The Rangers Youth Hockey Camp focuses heavily on multi-sport participation as a way to cross-train young athletes.
Some of the highlights from the month included appearances by NY Rangers Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and Keith Yandle. Legends Adam Graves and Mike Richter also took the time to stop by and help out with the on ice instruction. Rounding out the appearances were prospects Mackenzie Skapski, Brady Skjei, and Boo Nieves who shared stories about his experience playing at Michigan and his love of music.
NY Ranger, Chris Kreider said of the camp, “These camps are a great chance for kids to come out and get on the ice during the summer. It is equally as important to get off the ice and have a little fun in the sun and do other things to. Hopefully they learn a lot and come away from this having a positive experience.”
The month of camp brings a unique experience to the participants and their parents. It provides campers with an inside look into the MSG Training Center and allows them to develop in a positive and safe environment. At the end of each week, parents were invited to camp to watch the scrimmages and awards ceremony where 3 specific campers were chosen out of each group for their hard work, leadership skills, and respect from their fellow campers. Click here to learn more about summer camp.
The Rangers Youth Hockey Camp kicks off in a little over a month and youth hockey players from all over the world will be in attendance! Yes, in addition to kids from the tri-state area, we will also be joined by youth players from across the U.S.A as well as from Germany, Sweden, China, Austria, Mexico, Spain, France, and Finland! From the moment the campers arrive on their first day, they will experience top-level training from the hockey development staff that will not only help them develop skills on the ice, but also help build leadership and teamwork skills that will translate off the ice too. Susan Moley, who has had two children attend camp said, “Both my son and daughter have attended the New York Ranger camp the last two summers. They loved it so much, it is the only camp the repeatedly ask to go to again and again. They said it was the experience of a lifetime!”
Here is what your youth hockey player can expect to experience during their week at the New York Rangers Youth Hockey Camp.
Campers and parents will arrive Monday AM for check-in and orientation. Here campers will be divided into their respective age groups, and you will meet the coaches and staff that will be working with the players all week long. During this time, parents are encouraged to ask questions and be engaged. Campers can get excited about the week ahead!
Once orientation is complete, parents will depart and campers will dive in head first to the weeks activities. Each group is guaranteed a minimum of two hours of on ice training each day at summer camp. The ice times are usually broken up to twice a day. On the ice, kids will be divided up by skill level and will go through stick and puck handling drills, skating skill challenges, and scrimmages to help develop their talent to its highest potential.
Campers will receive off-ice training as well in multiple forms. Campers will gather daily in Kumon’s Classroom and be educated on everything from age appropriate fitness activities, nutrition, leadership skills, and the importance of rest. In addition to Kumon’s Classroom, campers will also have other off-ice training and activities.
Recreational time is provided to each group on a daily basis. During recreational time, campers will go through multiple team building activities that have an emphasis on trust. In addition to trust activities, campers will play other sports such as wiffle-ball to encourage multi-sport participation and provide fun activities that encourage physical fitness. Hockey focused off-ice training will also be provided on a daily basis. Campers will go through dry land skill training as well as strength and conditioning exercises.
In addition to the daily activities that campers will experience, each week a current New York Ranger player and multiple Rangers Alumni will stop by to help campers train both on and off the ice. On these days, campers will get to interact with the players and alumni in a small group setting and each child will have the opportunity to receive an autograph. New York Rangers legend, Adam Graves, has been appearing at camp each year since it began. He says of the program, “The New York Ranger summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for young hockey players to learn about the game of hockey in a fun, & memorable way! Reinforcing the importance of sportsmanship, preparation, teamwork, and respect!”
Towards the end of the final day of camp, parents are invited back to the MSG Training Center to watch the scrimmages amongst the groups and for the awards ceremony. Here, campers are given photos of their group and a certificate of achievement to commemorate all their hard work during the week. In addition, awards are also given out for leadership qualities and for hard work. No matter the case, one thing that can always be expected throughout the week is that the campers who attend create memories and friendships that last a lifetime.
Click Here to learn more about the New York Rangers Youth Hockey Camp and to register your child.
Contributed by USA Hockey
Even NHL players and Olympians need to take extended time away from the ice in the summer. It’s an essential component of their recovery, development and maintenance of high-level play. For children, that time away from hockey is even more important. Year-round hockey programming harms young skaters emotionally, physically and athletically, yet, many parents and coaches claim that early specialization is necessary to become an elite hockey player. It’s simply not true. USA Hockey, the United States Olympic Committee, countless high-level coaches and numerous physiologists will tell you that early specialization actually limits and damages prospective hockey players, reducing their chances of becoming the cream of the crop.
So what exactly is early specialization? It’s when a player, prior to puberty, focuses all of his or her time on one sport in hopes of increasing or accelerating skill development. It may sound like a logical route to more skill development, but research and anecdotal evidence indicates the contrary.
Young kids have short attention spans that limit the amount of time they can focus and perform repetitions correctly. Participating in multiple sports allows these young athletes to learn a variety of motor skills, hone them efficiently and increase their physical literacy. It teaches them diverse movement patterns, varied skill sets and cognitive understanding of game sense. Taking a long-term holistic view, it also puts them on a path toward a lifetime of real-world physical fitness, because they’ve developed the ability, confidence and habits to be competent in multiple physical activities. For the 99 percent of youth athletes that don’t become professional athletes, this varied fitness foundation helps them enjoy the camaraderie and health benefits of an active lifestyle in adulthood.
Another benefit of playing multiple sports is a reduction in overuse injury risk. Sports medicine doctors are seeing a substantial increase in overuse injuries among children and early specialization is a major contributor. These players are getting injured before they even have a chance to develop physically. Calls for change are coming from the hockey world and all over the sporting community.
Early specialization is also increasing the psychological burnout rate among children, eliminating many from the game before they even hit their athletic prime. Among those who hang on despite the burnout, there’s an indifference to their game that caps potential.
Adults get caught up in allowing or pushing their little ones to play one sport for a number of reasons. They might be scared that their child will fall behind. They might push them simply because the kids are good at it and see immediate skill improvements and love the results. However, athletic development is a long process, and sport-specific skill development is only one piece. In order to be a great player, one must be an athlete first. And it’s important to remember that, especially in hockey, the “great” 10U player won’t automatically be the “great” player in years to come, when it actually matters and the stakes are higher. Skills and sense transfer from sport to sport. Overall athleticism matters. Hunger matters. Energy matters. Recovery matters. Early specialization impairs all of this, limiting athletes’ potential for long-term success. The goal should not be to produce the best 10-year-old, but to cultivate healthy children instead, and give them an opportunity to thrive in high school athletics, college athletics and beyond. It’s hard to trust it as a parent, when those around you seem to be submitting to early specialization, but take heart in the following:
The U.S. Olympic Committee recently published a report based on a survey distributed to nearly 2,000 Olympic athletes. The results indicated that the vast majority of Olympians did not specialize in their sport until very late in their development, and even then, some continued to participate in other sports.
Average number of sports played among Olympians (by age)
Average Number of Sports Played
These findings indicate that Olympians were involved in an average of three sports per year until age 14, which contradicts the notion that early specialization is critical to long-term athletic success. Multi-sport play appeared to be beneficial to these Olympians.
Bottom line, mounting evidence shows no benefit to young athletes specializing in a single sport. Even more alarming, they have a greater risk of repetitive-use injury, they experience more burnout and they miss out on the advantages that playing multiple sports can give them.
So, encourage your kids to try different sports and to have fun while they are doing it.