One of the initiatives was the Tunnel to Towers executed in Manhattan. The run honors first responders and all those affected by 9/11. It takes place on a Sunday morning at 7:30am, so guys have to get up early and, depending on where their house is located in the bustling city, travel up to an hour to make it.
Cassano said that says a lot about the kids on the team.
Despite the fact that none of the players were even born when 9/11 happened, they are able to understand what happened and the importance of first responders. It hits even closer to home for the Gulls who have a coach in the program who was a first responder on that fateful day.
“It was kind of our first group game with the 18U and 16U teams,” New York native Logan Renkowski said. “It was really special for me to be from New York and it was really eye-opening to see what happened and to see all the people who were really involved in it.”
“It really brought us together as a team,” said Alex Bosland. “We’re a New York State team, of course, so we’re very proud of that and remember the people who were affected. And that really allowed us to build a team spirit early on so that we have our brothers and that no one is above the others.
“A lot of guys came [assistant coach] Vinny [Smith] and me and we were like, ‘Thank you, that was an amazing experience,'” Cassano said.
The team also raised over $100,000 for cancer awareness at its Hockey Fights Cancer game.
“A good friend of Vinny and mine, Mike Marcou, was diagnosed with cancer. And so, it really hit home and it helped all of us realize that it’s bigger than you,” Cassano said. “I also think it brought together organizations like us and other rivals on Long Island.”
The children on the team embraced the community service initiatives. It helped them grow as young men and when they entered the tournament they feel like it helped them come together even more as a team on the ice.