On Saturday November 28, the New York Raptors will be hosting their annual Thanksgiving Special Hockey Tournament at the Hommocks Ice Rink with their regular competitors, the New Jersey Daredevils, the Albany Cougars and the Long Island Blues. Ice time is 5:25 to 8:00 pm, allowing for three hard playing games.
As a side attraction, this year’s tournament will include a silent auction with items such as NY Rangers tickets, motorcycle rides, gift baskets and much more. The Raptors’ fifty-fifty raffle will giving everyone a chance to win.
Every year, the Thanksgiving Hockey Tournament is supported by donations from the community. “First and most important, Mamaroneck Youth Hockey Association donates the ice time,” noted Ed Mikus of Larchmont. “Unquestionably, the tournament could not take place without their help and continuing support. Sal’s Pizza of Mamaroneck, another stalwart, donates upwards of twenty pies towards the team dinner following the games. The Sage Deli provides their famous heroes to feed the clean-up crew the next morning. “
Special hockey is open to developmentally and otherwise disabled children and adults who are unable or ineligible to participate in other organized programs due to their disability.
The NY Raptors began in 1996, when Mike Dwyer, then the British consul in New York, moved to Larchmont from Toronto where his son had been playing on a special hockey team, the Toronto Grand Ravine Tornadoes. There were no organized league sports for children with disabilities in the area, so Mr. Dwyer started one, with help from the press and the local BOCES office. The Dwyer family relocated to England in 2001, where Mr. Dwyer started the London Werewolves Special Hockey team. Patty Nadolske stepped in to keep the Raptors going until Anne Majsak and Ed Mikus took over three years ago.
“Once a week, from the end of September until the beginning of April, the Raptors practice at the Westchester Skating Academy, whose ongoing support is much appreciated.” said Anne Majsak. “Liz Truly, who plays ice hockey with the Wildcats, has been the head coach for the past several years,” explained ms. Majsak. “She is assisted by an extremely dedicated group of volunteer adult coaches who instruct the players in the game of hockey. She also directs a group of high school aged student coaches, also volunteers, who often return during and after they enter college.”
The US special hockey teams operate under the umbrella of the American Special Hockey Association, an affiliate of USA Hockey, Disabled Section, and Special Hockey International. There are now more than 70 teams in the United States. See www.americanspecialhockey.org for more information, news and pictures or contact Mike Hickey, President of the Board of Directors, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Esther Gueft’s son, Max Maksimyadis, is the Raptor’s long-time goaltender, who has been with the team from the day it began.