From Sochi to Stamford, Olympic medalists Meghan Duggan and Julie Chu laced up their skates and hit the ice here at Chelsea Piers for Hockey Day in America.
“It’s a celebration of hockey.”
NBC Sports Group and the NHL partnered with Chelsea Piers to bring the fourth annual event to the sports complex Sunday. Young players got to hit the puck with former NHL players and meet with the two Olympic silver medalists.
“For it to be in our own backyard in Connecticut is fantastic and the more we can increase the involvement with the game, the better for everybody,” says Matt Stack, rinks director at Chelsea Piers.
“We always love seeing kids out on the ice, and any chance we get we want to help grow the game and I think that starts at the youth level,” says Duggan. “So we’re excited to be here. It’s fun to see all those kids out there playing mini games and shooting pucks around and having a great time.”
“It’s really special because I think these events; days like today where we can celebrate hockey, get kids into the rink, or maybe introduce new kids to hockey; it’s huge,” says Chu. “That’s how we grow our sport not only for the boys side but especially for the girls side.”
After battling it out in Sochi, Russia, Chu and Duggan say they’re glad to be back. For Chu, Connecticut is where her journey on the ice began.
“I grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut and I started playing at 8-years-old out of the Bridgeport Wonderland of Ice,” says Chu. “So if anyone asks me where my home rink is, it’s always Bridgeport Wonderland of Ice.”
“We’ve been welcomed with open arms back in America and everyone’s been outstanding,” says Duggan.
Many of those open arms belonged to young girls Sunday as they clamored around Chu and Duggan for autographs. The national players had some special advice for girls who want to get into the sport.
“To not be afraid to go out there and take a chance,” Chu says. “I think a lot of times we limit ourselves and our ability to try new things, or if we already experienced something, to really set high dreams and goals.”
“If you love it just stay with it,” says Duggan. “Hockey was burned deep in my heart for a really long time and I just kind of stuck with it. I think it comes with its challenges obviously like anything that you want to excel at.”
Chu and Duggan say they don’t know what the future holds just yet. For now they say they plan to relax and spend time with family and friends.