Gophers Mix It Up With Local Sled, Special Hockey Programs

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 There's no such thing as an off week for the No. 1 Minnesota men's hockey program and this weekend was no different for the Gophers. 

The team hit the ice on Saturday morning to skate with several local sled hockey and special hockey teams in an event set up through the Hendrickson Foundation. Dozens of local hockey players joined the Gophers at Mariucci Arena to run through drills and play a handful of pick-up games. 

"Normally our goal is to put a smile on someone else's face, but this time I think it was the other way around. I'm pretty sure every one of our guys came off the ice with a grin from ear to ear," junior forward Nate Condon said. "Today was a great way to get in a little bit of hockey during the off-week, and we're glad we could be a part of it." 

Formed in 2011 in partnership with USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey, the Hendrickson Foundation is focused on growing disabled hockey in the state of Minnesota. Former North Stars strength and conditioning coach Larry Hendrickson founded the organization with the following mission:

"The Hendrickson Foundation knows for every disabled hockey player we have on the ice today, there are literally hundreds who we've yet to reach. We will be tireless in our efforts to grow participation through awareness of our programs as well as providing financial assistance to families in need. We also know we can't do it alone." 

And that's where the Gophers are trying to help. 

"You know today was great for our guys, but the best part of the event was getting some exposure for the Hendrickson Foundation," Minnesota associate head coach Mike Guentzel said. "The more people we have playing hockey in Minnesota the better, and it's great that everyone who wants to play hockey is getting that opportunity because of groups like this." 

To learn more about the Hendrickson Foundation, visit the organization's website or follow them on Twitter (@HFHockeyMN).

Check out KARE 11 tonight at 5 and 6 p.m. for more on today's event and how you can help support the Hendrickson Foundation. 

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