One of the highlights of the NDG Hockey program has always been its mission to accept every kid, no matter his or her ability on the ice or ability to pay. In the best of times hockey can be expensive, but with the recent increases in the cost of equipment and the downtown in the economy, more people than ever need a hand to get their kids on the ice.

With that in mind, NDG Hockey and the National Hockey League Players Association were able to get together on a project recently, with the Association donating 17 sets of player gear and seven full sets of goalie equipment for NDG families who need the help.

(Left-to-right) NDG player Matthew Monti, coach Darcy Sowden and the very Noah Cziment take in the Goals & Dreams ceremony at the 2009 NDG tournament (photo courtesy Julie Nanasi/NDG Hockey)

“The main goal of the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund is to help get financially disadvantaged children playing the game of hockey,” NHLPA representative Matt Langen told me. “We focus our support on grassroots hockey programs that can prove they are helping get children on the ice no matter what their family financial situation is.”

And of course, NDG Hockey fits that description to a tee.

“We chose NDG Hockey as a recipient because of their commitment to growing the game at the grassroots level. Julie [Nanasi] and the board of the NDG Hockey program committed themselves to distributing the equipment donated by the players in the NHL to those most deserving,” Langen explained.

“They were able to show that equipment would be given to children who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to play and are going to make a difference in their community. [We are] very excited at what the NDG program is trying to accomplish and wanted to support their efforts.”

The Goals & Dreams effort was initiated by Nanasi. “After reading an article on NHL.com, I happened to notice a mention of the program,” Nanasi explained. “I was curious about this grant, so I went to the NHLPA website and after reading about it, I decided that we could benefit from this type of grant.

“Kids shouldn’t have to miss out on a great opportunity like playing hockey just because they can’t afford the equipment they need. Donations like this have a huge positive impact. No one gets left behind.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of NDG being awarded the Goals & Dreams grant is that for our local association, helping out kids is nothing new – this is a way of growing a program that has already helped countless children over the years.

“We’ve outfitted parts here and parts there for quite a few kids in the past – we’re not going to refuse anybody and the kids are ecstatic when we can help them,” said NDG Hockey’s Margaret Lambton, who is probably one of the most generous people anyone has ever met. “In the past, people have donated some stuff and I give that out – I have a room full of stuff. And then if I can’t do it, I’ll send them to Play it Again on Decarie and they’ll do their best to help us at a low cost,” she explained.

“They’re very good about it. There are cases when single parents have two or three kids and need help, and we have some good people who help a lot.

“The big thing we have a lot of trouble with is sticks, and part of Goals & Dreams was 17 sticks. They gave us 17 kits head-to-toe and in all different sizes from little-to-big, and popular brands like Reebok and CCM. They even gave us seven goalie kits on top of that!”

You can reach me any time at noahsidel@gmail.com.

See the full edition of the NDG Free Press in which this column appears here: http://www.ndgfreepress.com/FPv2.1.d.pdf

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