Kitchener Rangers and Special Hockey International

The Kitchener Rangers Hockey Club is in the business of helping players achieve their dreams. The young men who suit up for the club aspire to be professionals and the Rangers strive to give them the tools and stage they need to take the next step in their careers. But not every player who takes to the ice is looking to make a living out of it. Some are happy just to lace up their skates and get in the game.

So when the opportunity to lend support to Special Hockey International 2013 came around, the Rangers jumped at the chance to get involved and signed on as the title sponsor for the tournament, which will include games on the ice of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, the team’s home rink.

“It’s a unique opportunity for our community to support a type of hockey that doesn’t always get a lot of attention – this tournament was coming to our community and we could help make that happen,” says Chief Operating Officer Steve Bienkowski, citing the Rangers’ bond with two of the participating teams as an additional incentive to come on board. For the past five seasons, the club has partnered with the Cambridge Ice Hounds and the Kitchener Ice Pirates to present a benefit game – an evening of hockey and fun that sees the Rangers players take on both the junior and senior teams. That relationship has shown Bienkowski and the organization the value of Special Hockey International.
“I think what you see is what hockey can do for people. It’s not about players who have gone on to the National Hockey League – it’s about everyone, from young kids to adults. The fact that this tournament exists is great, because it brings the sport to players who otherwise might not be involved. It allows them enjoy the game and develop a passion for hockey.”
Presenting this year’s tournament was also an opportunity to show off the city that the Rangers have called home for 50 seasons. With 64 teams and their families and fans descending on Kitchener, he hopes that everyone will be impressed by the hospitality.
“When the organizing committee came to us, it was a chance to support the community,” explains Bienkowski.
“There is a lot of mainstream sponsorship out there for high-level international events. This is in that same category. It’s a good fit for us as a hockey organization, but we’re also helping to bring people into our community for this tournament, where they can have a great experience and take a lasting impression away with them.”