A UPS truck arrived at Jeff Leonards’ home loaded with boxes of Flyers uniforms.

FARMINGTON – Aspiring youth hockey players in the Farmington-area will have big jerseys to fill. Literally.

Last week, the NHL Philadelphia Flyers donated 20 official team uniforms complete with the hat trick of jerseys, stockings (socks), and pants, all in the team’s trademark orange and black.

Jeff Leonards, Western Maine Hockey and Skating Associate president, a former Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fanatic, said when he solicited the team for support for the developing Farmington Flyers youth hockey team several months ago, he didn’t really know what to expect.

When a United Parcel Service truck arrived at the doorstep of his Wilton home last week loaded with boxes direct from the factory that makes the jerseys, Leonards was first grateful, then floored.

The contribution from Flyers’ owner Ed Snider and Chief Financial Officer Ron Ryan, means much to WMHSA, which formed earlier this year in hopes of bringing a skating program and indoor rink to town.

Mount Blue High School is the only Class A school in the state without a hockey program and WMHSA hopes they can help change that one day.

“You can’t even imagine how meaningful and exciting it will be for our kids to be not just wearing Flyers uniforms, but knowing that they were provided by a genuine NHL team, and one with such an illustrious history to boot,” said Leonards.

Expect “Support Your Local Hospital: Play Hockey,” “Get A Life: Play Hockey” and “Hug Your Hockey Player Today” bumper stickers to crop up on area cars as early as this summer.

The association, led by Leonards, has been meeting biweekly for the past two months to make a game plan to have a Pee-Wee league team, for 11- and 12-year-old girls and boys, lacing up their skates by the time school gets out for summer vacation.

In mid-May, presentations about the association will be done in area schools and an interested group of youth players will hit the ice at the indoor rink at nearby Kents Hill School. Young players will be coached and may even have the chance to compete in scrimmages against other like-aged teams around the state.

Once the momentum gets going and hockey fever hits western Maine, the organization hopes to add more names and age levels to the roster.

A serious fund-raising push is also set to begin as the group has a golf tournament planned for late June and looks to solicit donations from area businesses. They are also looking to get online with an association Web site.

“There is a very limited amount of things for kids to do around here,” Leonards said as to why the group is so passionate about pucktime, adding that the area has a rich hockey history. “This is another healthy activity that can’t help but benefit the youth of the area.”

WMHSA encourages anyone with an interest in skating or hockey, as well as fund raising to contact association President Jeff Leonards at 778-0035 or attend the next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 1, at Mount Blue High School.



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