Dishing out assists to kids in need

Bridgeport Sound Tigers working to help St. Vincent's special Needs Services and Feroleto Children’s Development Center

Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 9:20 PM ET / Community
By Jamie Palatini
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Dishing out assists to kids in need
Bridgeport Sound Tigers rookie forward Casey Cizikas currently leads the Sound Tigers in assists.

But his biggest assist of the season didn’t come during a game. In fact, there weren’t even any fans in the stands.

Casey Cizikas and Ty Wishart with Marcello, who steped on the ice for the first time in his life last week. Click image for complete photo gallery.
When Cizikas slid young Marcello in his wheelchair towards the open net at Webster Bank Arena and watched his new friend knock the puck across the goal line, the AHL rookie cheered as if he had scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Calder Cup Finals.

In Cizikas’ mind, this goal was just as important.

“These kids don’t get a chance to do something like this very often,” Cizikas said. “If I can put a smile on a kid’s face and help them have a great time on the ice.... It’s definitely a very rewarding feeling to help them out.”

Marcello is just one of the many children from St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services that the Sound Tigers have had an impact on this season. Earlier this year, the Sound Tigers announced a partnership with St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services based in Trumbull, Conn., as part of their Paws For A Cause charitable initiative.

The Feroleto Children’s Development Center at St. Vincent’s works with over 80 children every year that have multiple developmental disabilities and special health care needs.

“We’re blessed to have the opportunity to help these kids out,” said Sound Tigers defenseman Ty Wishart. “They go through a lot of struggles that we can’t even begin to comprehend. Those smiles and good times might be tough to come by, so it’s really great to be able to bring that out in them.”

In late October, the entire Sound Tigers team and coaching staff traveled to the Feroleto Center at St. Vincent’s for Sound Tigers Day, where the team met all of the children at the center and signed jerseys which the children had made for each player on the team.

“It was really important for us as a team to head up to St. Vincent’s and meet all of the kids, just a tremendous experience,” said defenseman Ty Wishart. “Not enough can be said for the staff that work with these great kids. To see them get so excited when we came in and to spend some time with them was great.”

The Sound Tigers are holding events throughout the season to raise money for a new state-of-the-art therapeutic pool. Many of the children at the Feroleto Center have limited mobility and rigid muscles due to their conditions. Treatment in a therapeutic pool helps them to relax those muscles, and it’s one of the few times where they can have the sensation of moving freely.

Earlier this past week, Marcello and a few of his fellow classmates had the chance to move freely across the frozen water at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Cizikas and Wishart stayed around after a Sound Tigers practice and brought the children onto the ice for the first time in their lives. In Wishart’s eyes, the experience was just as meaningful for him as it was for the kids.

“I think it’s a great experience for me on a personal level, Wishart explained. “I’m very lucky to play a sport I’ve loved since I was a little kid and continue that as a profession. Not everyone gets that opportunity, and it really puts everything in perspective. We want to give back to the community in every way we can.”

The Sound Tigers biggest fundraiser for St. Vincent’s will be conducted via the team’s Facebook page the rest of the season. The team announced this past week that they will donate $1 for every fan who “likes” the Official Sound Tigers Fan Site on Facebook. If the team reaches 10,000 “likes”, every fan that participated will receive a free ticket to see the team play the Syracuse Crunch on April 6 later this season. Fans can visit facebook.com/soundtigers or head to soundtigers.com for more information.

“This Facebook campaign is an extension of our commitment to working with St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services,” said Sound Tigers president Howard Saffan. “All it takes is a simple click of the mouse to join us in support of a great organization in our community.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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