The Sensory Friendly Game was the brainchild of NTDP Under-18 coach Seth Appert, who had coordinated previous games when he was the head coach at RPI. It was the second straight year that he was behind the bench for this special event.
“It’s real humbling to get to be a part of it,” said Appert. “I feel fortunate to open our home at USA Arena to everybody in our community, especially children on the spectrum. [They often can’t] go to a big-time sporting event because of the noises and lights which can produce a negative environment on them. To take that all away and allow families to come in and share this, it’s special and we are appreciative for everyone that came out.”
Everything about the Sensory Friendly Game was designed with the needs of the fans in mind, from a general admission seating section to available quiet rooms and a modified concessions menu which featured gluten-free pizza, the NTDP really tried to organize a game that would give fans the maximum experience.
“At USA Hockey, we strongly believe that hockey is for everyone,” said Scott Monaghan, senior director of operations for the NTDP. “With this promotion, we are able to welcome an even larger group of fans to USA Hockey Arena, including some who have maybe never had the opportunity to see us before due to the environment of live entertainment.”
Doskocz echoed those same thoughts about the event.
“We can support USA Hockey, buy concessions and come to a game and have an environment that is good for them. It’s such a great opportunity for our family,” he said. “We really appreciate having gluten free options for food. A lot of kids with autism their digestive system can’t handle regular food so it’s a big help for that too.
“They did general admission seating this year which is nice and allowed us to move around.”