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Created in 2000 for players with develop­mental disa­bilities, the Amer­ican Special Hockey Assoc­iation (ASHA) gives people of all ages and abilities a chance to learn and grow by playing hockey. There are currently over 50 ASHA programs in more than 30 cities through­out the United States. Follow special hockey on Twitter and Facebook.


Special Hockey Ambassadors

The American Special Hockey Association is proud to annouce a great new program which makes our organization even stronger. 

Special Hockey Ambassadors are current and former professional hockey players and coaches who serve as advocates for special hockey programs and players. They support the mission of the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) to give more people with developmental disabilities a chance to learn and grow by playing hockey.

Created in 2000 for players with developmental disabilities, ASHA sponsors clinics, games, and tournaments but has a strong emphasis on therapy rather than completion. There are currently more than 58 programs in over 54 cities throughout the United States.

Special hockey ambassadors lend their names, visibility, and influenceto bring attention to the abilities of people with developmental disabilities. By doing so, they promote the sport of hockey while building acceptance, tolerance, and respect for people of all abilities.

Current Special Hockey Ambassadors

• Matt Carkner, New York Islanders 

• Kelly Chase, St. Louis Blues (retired) 

• Peter Ciavaglia, Buffalo Sabres (retired) 

• Matt Cullen, Two Time Stanley Cup Champ

• Ken Daneyko, New Jersey Devils (retired)

• Daryl Evans, LA Kings (retired) Kings Radio Commentator

• Dave Hakstol, Philadelphia Flyers, Head Coach 

• Bryan Helmer, Hershey Bears, Assistant Coach

• Thomas Hickey, New York Islanders

• Olaf Kolzig, Washington Capitals (retired)

• Craig Laughlin, Washington Capitals (retired) TV Commentator

• Jordan Leopold, Minnesota Wild (retired)

• Jocelyne Lamoureux, Team USA Women

• Monique Lamoureux, Team USA Women

• Scott Mellanby, St. Louis Blues (retired)

• Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals 

• Luc Robitaille, Los Angeles Kings, Vice-President

• Roy Sommer, San Jose Barracudas, Head Coach


Adam Rothstein Named New ASHA Intern

The American Special Hockey Association would like to announce that Adam Rothstein will be joining our volunteer staff in a internship position, as Assistant to the President. Adam will be assigned duties as needed to help with operations of the organization.

Some of Adams duties will include but no limited to, creating paperwork to assist ASHA member programs for grants and donations. Adam will also assist the ASHA Treasurer with financial duties with bookkeeping, invoices and receipts.

Adam will also assist in creating a Coaching Education Powerpoint for the organization.

Adam says that  “This internship will help me develop the skills necessary to lead, grow as an individual and help me obtain the career position of my dreams.”

Adam is a senior at Towson State University, majoring in Economics. He will graduate after the next semester.

Adam began his hockey career with Montgomery Cheetahs ASHA program, when he was 12 years old, Adam states, "I had little to no skating experience and skills were very mediocre in the beginning, but as I practiced more, my skills improved." As the years went by Adam developed leadership skills and effective communication skills that benefitted him and helped him teach others how to play hockey.

In college Adam joined the Towson University Tigers men’s hockey team. A few weeks later an article was published about Adam in USA Hockey Magazine. This article helped inspire other individuals like Adam to achieve your goals and push yourself to the limit.

Two years later the head coach asked Adam to be an assistant coach and he accepted. From there on he took up coaching. Coaching helped Adam develop a deeper understanding of the game of hockey. It also allowed him to become a mentor for the younger guys.

Please join me in congratulating Adam on this new challenge.

Matt Carkner Earns ASHA Inspiration Award

Matt Carkner receives the ASHA Inspiration Award from ASHA President, Mike Hickey as Carkner's wife Kary and their two sons Chase and Corbin look on. Photo by: Jon Tenca/Puck Stopper Photography

Unlike some other honors in the sports world, the American Special Hockey Association’s (ASHA) Inspiration Award isn’t presented annually. This particular recognition is only given when a person goes above and beyond when it comes to dedicated support of ASHA and its member programs.

With that in mind, it was far more than a formality Dec. 13 when the award was given to Matt Carkner of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers immediately before the team’s home game against the Hershey Bears. It was, however, a surprise to the honoree when he learned that many of his family members were in attendance. (It was no surprise, however, that Matt’s brother-in-law was there; Bryan Helmer is an assistant coach with the Bears.)

According to ASHA, the award was presented to Carkner for his years of dedicated service to ASHA programs. He not only has been involved with ASHA in the United States but also in Canada – in particular the Capital City Condors in Ottawa, back during his playing days with the Senators.

After receiving the honor, Carkner stated, “Getting involved in ASHA programs has been a great experience for me. Seeing the smiles on kids' faces when they get to play a game they love is truly a rewarding experience. Being recognized with the ASHA Inspiration Award is above and beyond anything I ever expected. I'm just happy to be able to do this for some wonderful kids.”

Carkner most recently has dedicated his time to the Long Island Blues (while playing for the New York Islanders) and the Southern Connecticut Storm (while playing for Bridgeport). Those familiar with his philanthropy say he has spent seemingly countless hours on the ice with players in the program – and he didn’t stop there. Carkner has made his seats available to ASHA players and their parents so they can watch games, and he has facilitated postgame tours of the locker room.

“Matt gives our players star treatment and makes them feel included, which is so important for this population,” said Mike Hickey, president of ASHA. “Our players look at Matt as their new buddy or best friend, and that is exactly the way Matt views them.”

Deb McQuilkin, Program Director of the Southern Connecticut Storm, stated, "We could not have been more pleased when Matt got in touch with us.  He endeared himself to the Storm program immediately, becoming an instant role model and friend to the players on our team. Matt and his family are an important part of our Storm Special Hockey program in so many ways. What a wonderful gift to our special athletes and our program.”

Matt's wife, Kary, said, “Ever since I've known Matt, over 20 years now, he has always had the biggest heart and love for kids. So it didn't surprise me for a second when he got involved with kids playing special hockey – it’s the perfect fit for him! After all, Matt is just a big kid himself and his passion is hockey.”

Mike Russo, Program Director of the Long Island Blues, noted, “Matt goes over and above for the players and their families. He is a huge supporter of Special Hockey and loves skating and hanging out with the kids. He is an ambassador for sport.”

Hickey concluded, “Some people in life talk the talk, but Matt Carkner walks the walk. It is obvious why over his career he has been a great leader on and off the ice. I believe this is why many players are picking up on what Matt has done and are now following his lead.”

For example, Thomas Hickey has brought Long Island Blues players to games, as Matt had done in Long Island. Additionally, Thomas Hickey and Calvin DeHaan both were involved with the Long Island Blues when Matt was still with the New York Islanders. Even in Ottawa, Kyle Turris is now doing the work Matt started with the Capital City Condors, an ASHA affiliate in Canada.


ASHA Team Store

Visit the new ASHA Team Store where you can purchase great ASHA clothing and athletic wear.

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