“It’s been awesome,” said Matt Angst, the coach of the Long Beach Lightning, which won the Division 3 title. The New Jersey Bandits were the Division 2 champions, and the Brooklyn Aviators won the Division 1 championship.
“We started a Learn-to-Skate program with the Rangers, and about 90 percent of these kids started in that Learn-to-Skate program,” Angst said. “[They] got to learn to play and are now playing travel hockey. Now they get to come out here at Madison Square Garden, the best arena in the world, and win a championship. It was awesome for the kids.”
The fun wasn’t just limited to the kids. Parents savored the moment of their children skating on hallowed ice.
“It’s so much fun,” said Adam Graves, a Rangers legend whose No. 9 was retired by the team on Feb. 3, 2009, and who now serves in the team’s hockey and business operations department, as well as assisting in the organization’s efforts to work with local communities.
The mid-afternoon tournament was the culmination of nearly a year’s worth of work.