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Lightning help hockey meet STEM in the classroom

Slap Shots: Plus, thoughts on the Hockey Hall of Fame, a scary moment in Calgary and Military Appreciation Night.
The Lightning hosted 5,000 middle school students at Friday's practice. [Courtesy of Everfi]
The Lightning hosted 5,000 middle school students at Friday's practice. [Courtesy of Everfi]
Published Nov. 17
Updated Nov. 17

TAMPA — The Lightning took the ice Friday to a “Let’s go, Lightning” chant. That wouldn’t be too far-fetched, except this was at practice.

The team invited 5,000 area middle-school students to practice as part of its Future Goals program, developed by Everfi, a Washington company specializing in education technology innovation. The NHL and the Players Association sponsor the program, which brings hockey into the classroom to explore STEM topics through sports.

“We actually tried to use math and science in our ball-hockey stuff,” Lightning vice president of community hockey development Jay Feaster said of the team’s efforts in science, technology, engineering and math eduction before this program.

“We show angles — if you pass off the boards here, or the different angles in the openings around a goalie.”

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: A failed challenge cost the Lightning Saturday night

Feaster enjoyed math as a kid because he could figure out baseball batting averages, so he appreciates the connection between sports and STEM programs. Future Goals features computer modules aimed at students in third through eighth grades on various topics.

Lindsay Sellberg, a third-grade teacher at Trinity School for Children in Tampa, has seen the benefits. She uses the modules to review topics such as calculating area and perimeter, and potential and kinetic energy.

“Sometimes I find things I’m teaching that don’t relate to something they know, (and) they lose it in about a month,” Sellberg said. “With this, they can relate it to real life, and they can remember it.”

Some of Sellberg’s students are hockey players. But even those who don’t play have a better time absorbing the information through the lens of the sport.

On Friday, students from the area who have or will complete the program this year were invited to a practice, something Feaster had been wanting to organize for a few years.

Before the team skated, the students heard from employees in STEM careers throughout the organization, including strength coach Mark Lambert, director of analytics Michael Peterson, vice present of game operations John Franzone and director of facilities Steve Butler. The idea was to give students an idea of the breadth of hockey careers that come from a STEM background.

Quick hits with Kevin Shattenkirk

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) before a game against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. [CHRIS O'MEARA | AP]

Most-used app: Instagram. He describes himself as “a scroller and a liker,” following accounts including @beigecardigan and @willsmith. But his favorite app is Shazam. It’s great for identifying songs in podcasts.

Movie he’ll always watch: The Goonies. He saw it first when he was 6 and estimates he has seen it more than 200 times.

Habit he wants to change: He would like to go to bed earlier. He usually heads to sleep about midnight but says 10 p.m. would be better.

So … I had a thought

• Avalanche wing Matt Calvert laying on the ice bleeding from his head while play continued is a bad look for the league. Calvert was struck in the side of the head by a Canucks shot Saturday night, and because it happened in the defensive zone, officials allowed play to continue for 13 seconds until Vancouver scored. Colorado’s Erik Johnson had some strong comments about that being a joke, with which I cannot disagree. I understand you don’t want to interrupt a possession, but when a guy is holding his head and unable to get up, something has to give.

• Hockey is a physical sport and people get hurt, but you still never expect something like what happened to Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie. The 29-year-old collapsed during a practice last week and went into convulsions. He was hospitalized and sent home after undergoing tests, which is encouraging. But his wife, Amber, hit home with a poignant tweet. She posted a picture of Brodie and their daughter Severn that read, “A few hours after I took this picture my best friend was banging on my front door to take my toddler and tell me that my healthy, fit, 29-year-old husband had collapsed on the ice and was in an ambulance. Life is short. Minutes are precious. Be kind.”

Boston College head coach Jerry York looks on during an NCAA hockey game against Wisconsin on Oct. 11 in Chestnut Hill, Mass. [WINSLOW TOWNSON | AP]

• One of my favorite people in hockey will be inducted into the Hall of Fame today. Boston College men’s hockey coach Jerry York was very good to me when I was a clueless college freshman. He has been very good to any number of people who have interacted with him. York caught a little flak for skipping Saturday’s fan forum as part of induction weekend in Toronto (though plenty of people defended his decision). But he did so to do what got him the honor in the first place: coach a game. BC played at Vermont on Saturday, and York was behind the bench.

• To add another Hockey Hall of Fame thought, I am thrilled to see Hayley Wickenheiser become the fifth woman inducted. Wickenheiser was the first female non-goalie to play professionally when she joined the Finnish league (after turning down an offer from Hall of Famer and Lightning founder Phil Esposito to play in the ECHL). She is the career leading scorer for Canadan’s national team and won four Olympic gold medals. Now she is one of the few women working on the hockey operations side of an NHL organization, as Toronto’s assistant director of player development.

Three-on-three

Top Lightning player video segments: 3. Don’t laugh at the funny videos 2. Interviewing each other 1. Cooking competitions

Top moments of Lightning Military Appreciation Night: 3. Marine Corps enlistment 2. Special Operations Command team members rappelling into the arena. 1. 101-year-old Robert McClintock singing the national anthem.

Most goals scored in a game this season: T2. Canucks, eight versus Kings. T2. Hurricanes, eight versus Sentors. T1. Avalanche, nine versus Predators T1. Lightning, nine versus Rangers.

Questions for the Lightning

Why did the Lightning play at 4 p.m. Saturday?

They play five 4 p.m. home Saturday games this season and one 5 p.m. Sunday game. In part, this is a bit of an experiment to seeing how fans take to the change. The Lightning have enough strength in their ticket sales to try new things.

Are the Lightning closer to being last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winning team or do they still have a ways to go?

This week’s reader’s question comes from Kevin Daly (@kevinD0425) via Twitter. If you have a question @dianacnearhos.

They are getting there. And being the team they want to be this year doesn’t mean they will repeat with the Presidents’ Trophy. But the past two weeks showed progress. In two wins against the Sabres and one against the Rangers — and even in Saturday’s loss to the Jets — the Lightning put together complete games and played responsibly. They didn’t just expect their talent to bowl over opponents. I’d caution against expecting last year’s level of regular-season success, but this Lightning team is coming together.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.

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