The Spittin' Chiclets crew went down to Philly last week for the 5th Annual USA Hockey Warrior Classic and it was a true honor for us to hang out with these heroic men and women from all over the country. When we were first approached about it, we just asked "where and when?".
The host city won three of the seven trophies (Tiers 1, 4, & 7) with the Buffalo Warriors Blue (2), Michigan Warriors Hockey Program (3), Dallas Warriors (5), and Vegas Veterans Hockey Foundation (6) winning the rest. I went to the Colorado vs. Philly Tier 1 game on Friday and the intensity was through the roof. Despite it being a no-check program, the tilt was extremely physical with a dollop of dirty play (I mean, it is a Philly team). And there was enough barking back-and-forth between spectators to make me think I was at a youth league game.
We were informed that the Flyers and Blues are the only two NHL teams that support USA Hockey Warrior teams to this extent (money, use of logo, rink, etc.). And frankly we have no idea why there isn't more financial support from NHL teams, especially when you consider it's not all that much money for teams worth half a bill to a bill.
This year's Classic brought together 25 teams comprised of male and female service members and veterans with disabilities. It was held at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey, and Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, New Jersey. The stand-up ice hockey tournament has been held since 2017, when the inaugural event took place in Arlington, Virginia. A total of 453 players in seven tiers took part this year.
Some players started skating when they joined the program and others were obviously studs in HS/college. But they all share in the unique camaraderie of being a disabled vet and playing hockey, with the sport having an undeniable therapeutic effect. They're also among folks in the locker room who went through similar trauma and understand better than anyone what they're going through.
It was an honor to meet so many of the players and shoot the shit with them while having a few pops and some cannabis. It's also pretty powerful when they share personal moments with you and remind you that the podcast can be more than just a goofy hockey show. Me, Biz, Whit, G, and Sean-o were proud to be a small part of this year's Warriors Classic and we can't wait for the next one.
We also want to extend our congratulations to Coach Brad Marsh on the victory. We interviewed the former Flyers defenseman while we were there and that will be coming soon. It's a fantastic interview with a genuinely awesome guy.
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