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Lightning bring Community Hero program to Sweden

Tampa Bay recognizes Stockholm Ice Hockey Federation for its effort to make hockey accessible to immigrants.
Stockholm Ice Hockey Federation project leader, Simon Stigenberg, was recognized with some local children as the Community Hero alongside Lightning owner Jeff Vinik during the first period of Saturday's game in Stockholm. [Courtesy of NHL Images]
Stockholm Ice Hockey Federation project leader, Simon Stigenberg, was recognized with some local children as the Community Hero alongside Lightning owner Jeff Vinik during the first period of Saturday's game in Stockholm. [Courtesy of NHL Images]
Published Nov. 9
Updated Nov. 10

STOCKHOLM — The Lightning recognize a community hero at each home game. Now we know that applies even if that home game isn’t at Amalie Arena. Or in the United States.

On Saturday, the Lightning gave the Stockholm Ice Hockey Federation a $50,000 donation during the second TV timeout of their game against the Sabres at the Ericsson Globe.

Bringing the program overseas wasn’t originally the plan. It was discussed on a panel Friday, and owner Jeff Vinik was glad to add it.

The Stockholm Ice Hockey Federation aims to make hockey available to everyone. It is launching a program aimed at families overcoming cultural and economic barriers, particularly immigrants. The NHL and Players Association teamed up to donate equipment to the program.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Victor Hedman comes from a rich hockey history in Örnsköldsvik

“We are going to schools and our clubs, introducing ice hockey to kids that normally don’t have the chance to get in contact with our sport,” said Carina Oddberg, the federation’s operations manager.

Starting in January, the federation will bring kids from local teams together with younger kids who have not had access to the sport. The Lightning’s Mathieu Joseph and Brayden Point participated in a preview session Monday along with Sabres Victor Olofsson and Johan Larsson.

Joseph was impressed by how quickly novice kids picked up the game. One asked about how to slow and stop while skating, getting pretty good in the short session.

“They were really impressive,” he said. “But it was good to see how happy they were to be on the ice. It’s a great program.”

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