Blogs | 12/4/2012 3:52:59 PM | ROCHESTER AMERICANS

Jody Gage at Manhattan Square Park

Members of the Rochester Americans organization, from Hall of Famer Jody Gage, to goaltender David Leggio, to the team’s longtime mascot, the Moose, have been out and about in the Rochester community recently.

On Sunday, Evan Rankin got an up-close look at a very special program that is now in its 12th year.  The Rochester Special Hockey program, better known as the Rochester IceCats, hits the ice every Sunday afternoon and includes players ages 4 to 42. The program provides an opportunity for individuals with developmental disabilities to play ice hockey.  This week, the team played an exhibition game against Geneseo High School with Rankin behind the bench serving as an assistant coach.

“It was really cool to see that the organizers had put that program together for those kids,” Rankin said.

Following the game, a shootout win for the IceCats, Rankin joined the team for a pizza party to get to know the players and their families, as well as to relive some of the highlights of the game.

“It was fun for me, it was fun for the high school team that played against the IceCats and it was just an amazing thing to be a part of and help out on the bench,” Rankin added.  “There were smiles from ear to ear on every player out there. It was a lot of fun.”

The following night, Leggio, last year’s team MVP, headed out to the Greece Public Library to read “Z is for Zamboni” to young Amerks fans and teach them about the importance of reading and education.

After an extensive question-and-answer session with the kids, Leggio, a graduate of Clarkson University, gave a demonstration on hockey equipment before signing autographs and chatting with kids and parents.

The Amerks Power Play Reading Program continues Wednesday, Dec. 5 when defenseman T.J. Brennan visits the Penfield Public Library.

One of the highlights of last season was the Amerks outdoor skate at Manhattan Square Park.  With the Amerks on the road in Toronto over the weekend, Gage and the Moose headed to the Park for the 2012-13 Grand Opening.

First, however, Rochester Mayor Tom Richards led the Liberty Pole Lighting to kick off the holiday season in downtown Rochester.  Following the lighting, Jody and the Moose joined in a parade that marched from the Liberty Pole to the Ice Rink, where the Moose mingled and Mr. Amerk skated with kids from all over the Rochester area.

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