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Hangar turned hockey rink: Tampa Bay Lightning, MacDill service members play hockey

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player, Ruslan Fedotenko, talks about hockey fundamentals at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player, Ruslan Fedotenko, talks about hockey fundamentals at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Fedotenko won his and the Lightning’s first Stanley Cup during the 2003-2004 season. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player, Mathieu Garon, signs an Airman’s hockey stick at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player, Mathieu Garon, signs an Airman’s hockey stick at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Garon played as the goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2011 to 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player, Ruslan Fedotenko, signs a jersey for U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Taylor Horne, a leading petty officer assigned to Central Command’s Battle Damage Assessment team, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning player, Ruslan Fedotenko, signs a jersey for Petty Officer 1st Class Taylor Horne, U.S. Central Command Battle Damage Assessment team lead, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Fedotenko won his and the Lightning’s first Stanley Cup during the 2003-2004 season (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, 927th Air Refueling Wing and U.S. Navy Seamen from Central Command, along with USAA volunteers, the Tampa Bay Lightning Street Team, and former Lightning players, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mathieu Garon, pose for a picture at Hangar 4 on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

Airmen from the 6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing and U.S. Navy Seamen from U.S. Central Command, pose for a photo alongside Tampa Bay Lightning members at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Team MacDill played street hockey, got a chance to meet ThunderBug, the Tampa Bay Lightning girls and received hockey insight from Ruslan Fedotenko during the Lightning's visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Roger Zehr, the officer in charge of intelligence training assigned to the 6th Operation Support Squadron, practices stick handling skills at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Roger Zehr, 6th Operation Support Squadron intelligence officer, practices stick handling skills at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Zehr also played in two street hockey games, participated in hockey drills and learned hockey basics from Lightning legend Ruslan Fedotenko. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ried Patton, an administrator assigned to the 6th Operation Support Squadron, defends a goal during street hockey practice at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ried Patton, an administrator assigned to the 6th Operation Support Squadron, defends a goal during street hockey practice at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Patton also played two games as a goaltender during Tampa Bay Lightning’s team visit to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez, a photojournalist assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, puts on a hockey helmet at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez, a photojournalist assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, puts on a hockey helmet at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Airmen participated in hockey drills, five versus five street hockey, shootouts and listened to former Lightning player, Ruslan Fedotenko, teach hockey basics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Tampa Bay Lightning’s Street Team and USAA volunteers pose for a photo at Hangar 4 on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

Tampa Bay Lightning’s Street Team and volunteers pose for a photo in Hangar 4 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. The team visited the base to hold hockey clinics for joint service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

The Tampa Bay Lightning team mascot, the ThunderBug, looks over the flight line with an Airman at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.

The Tampa Bay Lightning team mascot, the ThunderBug, looks over the flight line with an Airman at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. The Tampa Bay Lightning Street Team, team mascot, and former players, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mathieu Garon, visited MacDill to interact with service members and play street hockey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing, play a street hockey shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Street Team at Hangar 4 on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.
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6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing Airmen compete in a street hockey shootout against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Street Team in Hangar 4 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Airmen learned skills from Lightning legend, Ruslan Fedotenko, and practiced on the court.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez, a photojournalist assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, poses for a photo with the Tampa Bay Lightning girls and team mascot at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.
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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez, a photojournalist assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, poses for a photo with the Tampa Bay Lightning girls and team mascot at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Airmen participated in hockey drills, five versus five street hockey, shootouts and listened to former Lightning player, Ruslan Fedotenko, teach hockey basics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

Tampa Bay Lightning’s Street Team and USAA volunteers set up a street hockey rink at Hangar 4 on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018.
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Tampa Bay Lightning’s Street Team and volunteers set up a hockey rink in Hangar 4 on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 25, 2018. Team MacDill participated in a street hockey clinic, got a chance to meet ThunderBug and the Tampa Bay Lightning girls and received hockey lessons from Ruslan Fedotenko during the three hour base visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Two former Tampa Bay Lightning players, Mathieu Garon and Ruslan Fedotenko, visited MacDill Air Force Base alongside the Tampa Bay Lightning Street Team and other volunteers to give hockey lessons and show appreciation for service members, Oct. 25, 2018.

During the event, 48 joint and Total Force service members participated in two street hockey clinics and received a “Hockey 101” lesson from Fedotenko.

“I think this hockey event is special because it involves integration between the Lightning organization and Team MacDill,” said Col. Douglas Stouffer, 927th Air Refueling Wing Commander. “It reflects the importance of the military to our community for the type of work we do.”

Since the Tampa Bay Lightning's inception in 1992, the strong community partnership with Team MacDill continues to thrive.  

“The Tampa Bay Lightning organization has always had a great relationship with MacDill and its military service members,” said Dan Williams, the partnership activation account executive for the Lightning. “This event’s purpose is to educate our community on hockey while also giving back to military service members who serve our country so selflessly and tirelessly.”

Starting in 2015, the Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) invested more than $6 million to grow the game of hockey and teach life skills lessons to Tampa Bay's young people and community through street hockey over the span of five years.

“These types of events help us gauge interest in our community while also promoting the sport of hockey,” said Williams. “As part of an ongoing partnership, this is something we hope we can do more consistently and frequently with MacDill.”

After the two MacDill teams played street hockey, the participants received a hockey fundamentals lesson and explanations on hockey penalties from former Tampa Bay Lightning forward, Ruslan Fedotenko, a legend who was a catalyst to the team’s first Stanley Cup win in the 2003-2004 season.

“I think this is a great event because we want to extend our hand to help our military members,” said Fedotenko, who is also an honorary commander with the 927th ARW. “I love coming to MacDill and it means a lot to me to make MacDill feel like they’re a part of the Tampa Bay community.”

Fedotenko also spoke about how he had to leave his home country of Ukraine because of the current war there, which forced his hockey retirement, but spoke about his appreciation for the U.S. military and the protection it provides for its citizens.

Furthermore, the Lightning organization also donated a hockey stick and ball to every MacDill member who participated in the event.

 “We hope military service members can play street hockey as a reprieve from their hard work,” said Williams. “We were beyond excited for this event as a foundation for bigger and better things to come.”