Northwest Chargers hockey players share ice with Blackhawks

 
Daily Herald report
Posted11/9/2018 6:00 AM
hello
  • Connor Ray, 8, of Long Grove, who plays for the Northwest Chargers Hockey Association, was chosen to represent his team on the United Center ice alongside Chicago Blackhawks players before the national anthem at a recent game.

    Connor Ray, 8, of Long Grove, who plays for the Northwest Chargers Hockey Association, was chosen to represent his team on the United Center ice alongside Chicago Blackhawks players before the national anthem at a recent game. Courtesy of Chicago Blackhawks

  • Connor Ray, who plays for the Northwest Chargers Hockey Association, stands for the national anthem with the Chicago Blackhawks on the United Center ice at a recent game.

    Connor Ray, who plays for the Northwest Chargers Hockey Association, stands for the national anthem with the Chicago Blackhawks on the United Center ice at a recent game. Courtesy of Chicago Blackhawks

  • Members of the Northwest Junior Chargers Team 2, part of the Northwest Chargers travel hockey organization, recently participated in an intermission relay race and Future Star ceremony at the United Center with the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Members of the Northwest Junior Chargers Team 2, part of the Northwest Chargers travel hockey organization, recently participated in an intermission relay race and Future Star ceremony at the United Center with the Chicago Blackhawks. Courtesy of Northwest Chargers

It was a special moment for Connor Ray, 8, of Long Grove when he was chosen to stand on the blue line at the United Center with the Chicago Blackhawks during the singing of the national anthem at a recent game.

The player who participates in the "Future Star" ceremony is chosen by, and participates on behalf of, his team. Connor, who plays in the Rolling Meadows-based Northwest Chargers youth hockey league, is the son of Jacqui and Brad Ray.

Connor's team, which consists of 14 players ages 6-8, also participated in an intermission relay race between the first and second periods of the game.

"(The race) involved dividing our team into two racing teams of six players each," said Erika Antonucci, manager of the Northwest Junior Chargers Team 2, which is coached by Tony Kolozsy. "A total of 12 players from our organization got to participate. During the race, skaters jump over, slide under and weave through obstacles along the race path. The players' names are announced as they race."

According to Will Chukerman, media relations coordinator for the Chicago Blackhawks, at almost every home game the Blackhawks invite youth hockey teams to participate on the ice.

"The Future Star ceremony seems to be the most special, as the youth team typically votes on which teammate gets to participate," Chukerman said. "They also get the chance to be on the ice with the Blackhawks team in front of 22,000 people."

Virginia Coglianese, assistant coach for the Chargers team, said the players are more than deserving of the honor.

"I've personally observed not only individual growth for each of these young hockey players, but also the growth of a chemistry that is often not found in even adult level players," she said.

"From hobbling on the ice in hockey tots, to being the Mite D3 Champions last year, many of these young athletes have worked diligently to be the best hockey players and teammates they can be.

"Even in an event like the relay, these kids are so excited for each other, even when it isn't them that 'wins.' Victory is shared joy. A goal is celebrated by each player as though it was their own."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.