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K-Wings become first pro hockey team to launch NHL STREET Leagues

Monday, June 24th
K-Wings become first pro hockey team to launch NHL STREET Leagues

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Kalamazoo Wings, ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, announced Monday they are the first professional hockey team to become an official NHL STREET operator. 

The K-Wings will host two free NHL STREET Youth Camps in Kalamazoo on Wednesday, July 17 and Wednesday, Aug. 14 for youth participants ages 7 thru 12. The K-Wings expect NHL STREET Leagues to begin in the summer of 2025.

“The K-Wings are proud to partner with NHL STREET and provide viable access to our game for Kalamazoo’s children and families,” said Toni Will, Kalamazoo Wings General Manager and Governor. “We see the value in hockey year-round in Kalamazoo and are thrilled to provide this investment for local youth to have fun and grow the game. We’re excited to be the first ECHL team to work with this amazing organization.

Both free camps in 2024 will take place in Kalamazoo’s North Side, and the team will partner with local nonprofits (to be named) for participant registration. This marks the beginning of a growing investment in NHL STREET for local youth.

“The Kalamazoo Wings’ integration of the NHL STREET program is a fantastic stride in expanding the reach and appeal of hockey, and a demonstration of the great things that happen when we collaborate in the hockey ecosystem,” said Kevin Westgarth, NHL Vice President of Hockey Development and Strategic Collaboration. “The enthusiasm and commitment shown by the K-Wings organization to take on this initiative highlights their dedication to community growth and youth engagement. We are incredibly excited about inspiring the next generation of hockey players and fans and to deepen the hockey connection in our communities.”

Established in 2023, NHL STREET is the premier ball hockey experience designed to provide kids ages 6 to 16 and their families with the best of what youth sports can be: having fun, staying active, making friends and creating great memories. 

"The launch of the NHL Street program by the Kalamazoo Wings represents an exciting new chapter for our communities and the sport of hockey," ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin said. “It opens the door for countless young fans to experience the joy of playing hockey in an accessible, inclusive environment. This initiative not only aligns with our mission to grow the game at the grassroots level, but also embodies the spirit of innovation and community engagement that we strive for in the ECHL. We are thrilled to support the K-Wings in this endeavor, and look forward to witnessing the positive impact it will have on our fans and future players as we hope to see this program develop in even more ECHL markets."

NHL STREET brings new style, energy and gameplay to the sport, offering families an affordable, neighborhood-based model that allows kids across North America to learn and play hockey. A year later, NHL STREET has more than 100 league operators in the U.S. and Canada with more than 2,500 youth enjoying the game of street hockey, including in places where hockey has previously been unavailable.

“I’ve been passionate about bringing hockey to Kalamazoo’s inner city for many years,” said Joel Martin, Kalamazoo Wings Head Coach and Director of hockey operations. “I’m excited to introduce the game in the North Side of Kalamazoo with camps this summer, and just as excited to bring the game all over the city in the coming years.”

By partnering with RCX Sports, the leader in youth sports experiences, as well as local nonprofit organizations, the K-Wings are bringing the game to a new generation and breaking down barriers for youth athletes to get involved in sports.

“At RCX Sports, our mission is to create the best youth sports experiences while also reducing the barriers to entry to ensure that every child can have access,” said Tom Garavaglia, Director of NHL STREET for RCX Sports. “We’re grateful to the K-Wings for their support and investment in the futures of local kids through these camps. We know sports have the power to change lives, and I’m excited to see the impact in Kalamazoo.”

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