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The Morning Call: Flyers hockey alumni to welcome fans at Lehigh Valley Winter Classic

Philadelphia Flyers alumni will be on hand on Feb. 5 to support the 9th annual Lehigh Valley Winter Classic charity hockey event at Bethlehem’s Municipal Ice Rink.

Bill Clement, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Flyers, and fellow Flyers alumni and NHL Hall-of-Famers John LeClair and Mark Howe will be available for autographs and photos from 1-1:45 p.m.

The all-day, 18-team outdoor festival — hosted by the Lehigh Valley Whalers hockey club and once again benefitting the Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley Polar Bears team — will feature food, music, a live auction of sports memorabilia and a basket raffle at the facility at 345 Illick’s Mill Road.

Action will begin at 8 a.m. while the feature game between the Polar Bears and the Bucks County Admirals, another Special Hockey club, will take place at 2 p.m.

The Polar Bears as an American Special Hockey Association and USA Hockey affiliate organization for children and young adults with Autism, Down Syndrome and other cognitive challenges.

No prior hockey or skating experience is required to join, and Special Hockey adapts many of the rules found in traditional hockey to make the game safer and more enjoyable for participants.

“When the Whalers reached out to us about being part of the Winter Classic, we were beyond grateful,” said Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley founders Joe and Nicole Guellnitz, who have been involved with the event for several years. “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.

Tournament director and committee chair Adam Bortz said, “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. 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.”

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