CAN Hockey players hit the ice during a World Autism Day jamboree at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex on April 2. (Submitted photo)

CAN Hockey players hit the ice during a World Autism Day jamboree at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex on April 2. (Submitted photo)

PHOTOS: In Surrey, Canucks Autism Network hockey jamboree celebrates World Autism Day

Players with the Surrey Knights Junior B team scrimmaged alongside youth and adult teams

In Surrey, a special day of hockey celebrated World Autism Day with some guest players hitting the ice at a rink in Fleetwood.

The Canucks Autism Network (CAN) Hockey Jamboree was held Saturday, April 2 at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex.

The end-of-season event, for CAN’s Vancouver Orcas, Surrey Stingrays and Coquitlam Sharks hockey teams, included a barbecue, carnival games, scrimmages and a family skate.

Due to COVID, the event was held in lieu of an annual provincial adapted hockey tournament that involves teams from across the province, noted Harold Cecchetti, communications manager with CAN.

Players with the Surrey Knights Junior B team scrimmaged alongside youth and adult teams. All year, the Knights shared their dressing room with the CAN Surrey Stingrays, “giving them the star treatment with personalized locker stalls,” Cecchetti explained.

“The Knights have also volunteered and mentored the team, participating in their weekly practices all year,” with the support of team owner John Craighead, a Canucks Alumni member.

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Mayor Doug McCallum dropped a ceremonial puck during the April 2 jamboree, and Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society hosted a barbecue for CAN hockey players and families.

The event, held in partnership with Sport Surrey, is among Surrey’s Sport Tourism Grants approved for 2022, in the first of two “intakes” this year.

Later this year, in mid-November, the CAN Pro-Am will involve hockey teams from across B.C. and NHL alumni joining each of their teams, at North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex. The weekend event aims to host more than 300 participants and 200 spectators.

On Sunday, April 3, the Vancouver Canucks hosted an Autism Acceptance game against Vegas Golden Knights.

CAN Hockey offers programs to those on the spectrum, some of whom often face barriers to participation in sports and recreation.

“My son started his first hockey season walking like a penguin on the ice,” said John Carinha, a CAN hockey parent. “I’ve seen him and his entire team conquer challenges in ways I never thought possible. CAN is beyond a resource or outlet – it’s an experience that gives these kids confidence that he takes with him in all aspects of his life.”

In CAN Hockey, participants are introduced to stick-handling, passing and shooting, as well as non-competitive scrimmaging, according to program details posted to canucksautism.ca/programs/hockey. Along with $500 registration fee, the program requires a commitment from parents/guardians to volunteer throughout the hockey season.

The April 2 event in Surrey was held after 20 weekly practices, said Romdoul Long, CAN program co-ordinator. “Thanks to the support of Sport Surrey, Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society and the Surrey Knights, our families were beaming with joy throughout the day.”

April is recognized as Autism Acceptance Month, with the hashtag #ReflectAndAccept. More details can be found on canucksautism.ca.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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