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WFMZ: 9th annual Lehigh Valley Winter classic returns to help kids get on the ice

There's fierce competition brewing for the Lehigh Valley Whalers over the weekend. It's all in good fun, and for a great cause.

The 9th annual Lehigh Valley Winter classic is on Saturday, and is helping to build up kids' confidence as it gives back to the community.

Each year, proceeds go to Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley, and its team of Polar Bears, event officials say.

The program provides the opportunity for athletes with special needs to hit the ice. Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley was founded by Joe and Nicole Guellnitz.

They say it was a way to combine their love of hockey with their love of giving back. Their involvement in the annual face-off started when the Lehigh Valley Whalers reached out to them in 2015.

And they've been partners ever since.

The Lehigh Valley Winter Classic raised about $55,000 for the Polar Bears last year. This year's tournament is expected to be their best yet.

Volunteers say it's heartwarming to watch the kids hone their hockey skills.

"The good news is a lot of the kids when I met them they couldn't skate, and now I can't keep up with them, I'm having a blast they're having a blast, so it's all good stuff," said volunteer Elvin Berndt. "A great community event for a great charity, I hope to see you there."

Some hockey greats will also be joining in on the fun according to officials. Two-time Flyers Stanley Cup winner Bill Clement will be on hand, along with Flyers alums and Hall-of-Famers John LeClair and Mark Howe.

The puck drops Saturday morning at 8:00 at the Bethlehem municipal ice rink.

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