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Beat the heat with these special-needs hockey players

Posted at 9:08 AM, Jul 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-10 10:17:10-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Today you can escape the heat and cheer on hockey players from across the valley at the "California Meltdown" Special-Needs Hockey Jamboree.

Five special-needs teams will be playing friendly games against one another at the Valley Children's Ice Center in Central Bakersfield.

Matthew Johnson has been playing for years with the special-needs hockey program through the American Special Hockey Association at Valley Children's. He said the program has helped his skills improve, but what he loves most is the fun he has with all the players in the program.

Johnson's mentor Bob Neath helped introduce him to the program. He introduced Johnson to the center years ago and taught him how to use the scoreboard and music system. Now Johnson works these systems Saturday mornings during games and practices for other local teams.

Neath said he's seen Johnson's skills improve over the years and it's all thanks to the special-needs program, which opens the rink to anyone with developmental or physical disabilities.

If you'd like to attend the "California Meltdown" at Valley Children's, the event is free and open to the public. Puck drops at 3:30 p.m.

For more information about the special-needs hockey program, contact Scott Hay at shay@vcicecenter.com or at (661) 852-7401 for additional information.