High schools and students across the New York-Connecticut-New Jersey corridor were profoundly affected by Hurricane Sandy, with a number of schools even relocating to different areas as damage and cleanup on their original sites continues.
The struggle for facilities has trickled down to high school sports, which have quite rightfully taken a backseat to safety, security and cleanup concerns in the aftermath of the storm's wreckage. At the same time, communities across the region are desperate to return to some sense of normalcy, and high school sports often play a big part of area residents' daily lives.
Now one professional franchise is going to the limit to try and help bring back high school hockey, donating its home arena to a high school squad that was displaced by the storm.
As reported by the Newark Star-Ledger, the New Jersey Devils have offered up the Prudential Center, the team's flagship arena and one of the most significant fixtures in downtown Newark, to the Newark (N.J.) East Side High hockey team.
East Side would have been unable to begin its practice season on schedule without the help because its traditional arena, the Ironbound Recreation Center, remains without power following Hurricane Sandy.
Now, Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek is saying that East Side can use the Prudential Center for practices and potentially games as long as it needs until the Ironbound Rec Center returns to full functionality.
"It essentially saved our season," Keith Veltre, the co-founder of the Hockey in Newark program that helps run the East Side hockey team, told the Star-Ledger.
While the struggles of the Ironbound Rec Center might have made many coaches nervous, Veltre could breathe a little easier because of past precedence. As it turns out, this is the second time that the Devils have offered up their facility for East Side to use, with the NHL team allowing the Red Raiders to practice at the Devils' practice arena following Hurricane Irene in 2011.
"We're very committed to this program," Vanderbeek told the Star-Ledger. "It's also making sure for kids that there's something they can do with their idle time."