Gulls Help San Diego Youth Hockey Players

Professionals take time to grow the game at Kroc Center camp

For those who have gotten pulled in to the world of NFL training camp, it’s easy to forget that hockey season is only about a month away.

This week a pair of San Diego Gulls are lending their time and expertise to Hockey Ministries International, an organization that tries to bring spiritual support to the world of hockey, teaching young hockey players the game.

Left winger Jordan Samuels-Thomas and defenseman Stu Bickel participated in the camp being held at the Kroc Center Ice Arena in San Diego. Amateur players from 8-to-17 years of age from all skill levels can take part.

What's interesting about this camp is while the Gulls are extremely active in their community involvement this appearance was not officially affiliated with the team. Jordan and Stu did it because they just like working with kids to help grow the game.

“We play hockey and chase around a puck,” said Samuels-Thomas. “In the grand scheme of things it’s kind of insignificant but when you can utilize the platform and impact people’s lives … in this particular circumstance, kids … that’s why I play hockey, to use that and be a role model and help kids and people out.”

Samuels-Thomas got started in his hockey career as a kid in Connecticut by being exposed to the game through a similar program. Bickel grew up in hockey-mad Minnesota so he has always been around the game but he sees camps like this very much the same way.

“Especially this age, I really enjoy working with young kids and kind of helping them get started in their hockey careers,” said Bickel.

Last season the Gulls added Austin Ortega, an Escondido native, right out of college and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins featured San Diego-born defenseman Chad Ruhwedel. Camps like this one should only increase the number of Southern California athletes that take to the ice.

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