(photo: Hockey Weekend Across America)

The eighth annual Hockey Weekend Across America is less than three short weeks away, and it’s going to be better than ever. Hosted by USA Hockey, this three-day event was created in 2008 with the aim of energizing the hockey community at every level, increasing exposure of this incredible sport all across the United States, and providing opportunities for those who haven’t played hockey to try it – ultimately resulting in more people playing the game at all levels. The event will take place February 20-22 this year, with the final day of Hockey Weekend Across America falling on the 35th anniversary of Miracle on Ice.

“Hockey Weekend Across America is something the hockey community looks forward to each year,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “From grassroots programs across the country to the National Hockey League and every level in between, this weekend is about celebrating all the wonderful things about our sport and also giving new people a chance to try our game, whether it be on the ice as a player or as a fan attending a game.”

Each day celebrates a special theme, and fans can join in on the fun through USA Hockey’s Facebook and Twitter pages all weekend, using the hashtag #HWAA.

Friday, February 20, is “Wear Your Favorite Jersey Day,” sponsored by ShopUSAHockey.com. As the name implies, fans are encouraged to show their team spirit by wearing their favorite jerseys, which shouldn’t be too hard for all of us die-hard fans. I’ll have to choose between my 2010 Ryan Miller USA Hockey sweater, my Buffalo Sabres script wordmark third jersey (such a shame they retired that design), and my custom Hilary Knight USA Olympic number. Tough choice, but Knight will probably get the nod this year. The Facebook and Twitter pages of USA Hockey will be accepting photos from across the country as they search for America’s most passionate hockey fans.

2013 Wear Your Favorite Jersey Day - Hockey Weekend Across America

2013 Wear Your Favorite Jersey Day – Hockey Weekend Across America

Saturday, February 21, will play host to what is, in my opinion, the best hockey event all year. Hundreds of rinks across the country will invite thousands of kids to lace up a pair of skates for the first time, and get a taste of hockey during “Try Hockey Day,” sponsored by the National Hockey League. Try hockey days give children a chance to fall in love with the game, and learn invaluable skills about being part of a team they can use later in life. Equipment and skates will be provided for children aged 4-9, absolutely free to try! To find a participating rink near you and register, visit TryHockeyforFree.com.

2014 Try Hockey Day - Hockey Weekend Across America

2014 Try Hockey Day – Hockey Weekend Across America

The event will go out with a bang on Sunday, February 22, which is “Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes” day, and also the 35th anniversary of the unforgettable Miracle on Ice. The hockey community is encouraged to develop ways to honor their local hockey heroes, including posting pictures and stories on USA Hockey’s Facebook and Twitter. NBC and NBCSN will be providing Hockey Day in America coverage, featuring an NHL triple-header and giving us a glimpse at hockey of all levels across the United States.

For more information, visit HockeyWeekendAcrossAmerica.com

Born in the “non-traditional” hockey market of South Florida, Elizabeth (Beth) quickly grew to love the sport at a very young age after her Buffalo-bred family introduced her to the Sabres. High school friends who didn’t care about hockey couldn't understand her withdrawals during the 2004-05 lockout, but college would bring a hockey loving boyfriend (and best friend) to whom she could finally relate. A South Florida native himself, and an avid Florida Panthers fan, he got her into the home team. Together they work for their college hockey club (the FAU Owls), broadcasting games. Beth is a huge USA Hockey fan and hopes to see them win Olympic gold in her lifetime. Between her 2 favorite NHL teams, her college squad, and USA Hockey, it's hard to tell which team she loves most, but she is passionate about them all.

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