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  • Writer's pictureLV Winter Classic

Press Release: Flyers Alumni Continue To Support Local Special Needs Hockey Team

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

Two-time Flyers Stanley Cup winner, Bill Clement, along with Flyers alumni and NHL Hall-of-Famers John LeClair and Mark Howe will be on hand supporting the 9th annual Lehigh Valley Winter Classic. The charity hockey tournament will be raising money for Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley.

For the 8th straight year, proceeds from this event will benefit the local Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears team, an American Special Hockey Association and USA Hockey affiliate organization providing athletes in the Lehigh Valley with special needs the opportunity to play ice hockey.

The first puck drops at 8:00am on Saturday, February 5th for this all-day outdoor hockey festival at the Bethlehem Municipal Ice Rink. The event’s hosts, The Lehigh Valley Whalers hockey club, will face off along with seventeen other local hockey teams throughout the day, all of which help raise money for the event. In addition to a great day of outdoor hockey, there will be a huge basket raffle featuring hundreds of goods and services donated by local families and businesses, a live auction of sports memorabilia, Winter Classic merchandise and food for sale, music, and a lot of fun. 100% of the proceeds from the event go to Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley as well as helping other American Special Hockey Association programs throughout the nation.

Bill Clement, John LeClair, and Mark Howe will be available for autographs and photos with fans from 1:00 to 1:45PM before they drop the puck for the feature game at 2:00pm, when the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears face off against another special hockey team the Bucks County Admirals.

Joe and Nicole Guellnitz, (Founders of Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley) when asked about the Winter Classic said, “When the Whalers reached out to us about being part of the Winter Classic, we were beyond grateful—we had just started SHLV, didn't have any funding yet, and the money they raised allowed us to start making our vision a reality. We never imagined that this incredible collaboration raises, in a single day, most of the money our program needs for the entire year. Our whole organization is humbled by the overwhelming generosity our local community, the people of the Lehigh Valley that come together for the Winter Classic, and the Whalers that make this all possible and give the gift of hockey to those with special needs."

Adam Bortz (Lehigh Valley Winter Classic Tournament Director and Committee Chair) when asked about Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley “The Whalers felt we had a unique opportunity to give back to our community, and when we heard what Joe and Nicole were doing, it was a natural fit. Giving kids that might not have the opportunity to participate in a game that has given so much to each of us on the team, has been a great experience. We feel fortunate to be aligned with such a great cause, and look forward to helping Special Hockey to continue to help expand their program in our community. We are thrilled that Bill be joining us again this year and bringing John LeClair and can’t say enough about their willingness to support our cause.”

About Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley (SHLV):

SHLV is a 501c3 non-profit ice hockey program for children and young adults with Autism, Down syndrome, and other cognitive challenges. We’re run by a growing team of passionate volunteers who work to meet the unique needs of our players on and off the ice—in addition to teaching hockey, our program seeks to build confidence, foster friendships, and provide a supportive environment for all of our players and their families.

No prior hockey or skating experience is required to join—new players are provided with assistive equipment and work 1-on-1 with one of over 30 volunteer coaches until they are ready to skate on their own. Special Hockey adapts many of the rules found in traditional hockey to make the game safer and more enjoyable for participants.

SHLV is a proud affiliate of the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA).

Media notes:

For additional information on Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley:

Joe Guellnitz


For additional information on the Winter Classic sponsorship opportunities, or The Lehigh Valley Whalers:

Adam Bortz


Learn more and donate online:

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