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January 7, 2011

Admirals and Special Olympians Learn From One Another

by Rachael Langdon

Hannah Peelen’s mother wouldn’t tell her where they were going on Thursday morning for fear that she wouldn’t get any sleep the night before. Hannah, a figure skater, and her teammates from Special Olympics of Virginia, had been invited to watch the Norfolk Admirals practice and skate with the team.

When the Peelens entered Scope Arena, both the secret, and Hannah’s excitement were apparent.

Hannah, along with fellow figure skater Darlene Laurent and speed skaters Chad Conner, John Steele, and Jose Masionave, enjoyed watching practice from ice level and learning the fundamentals of hockey from injured players Mathieu Roy and Mitch Fritz.

"I tried speed skating once," shared Fritz. "It was way harder than skating in hockey skates."

As practice wound down, the athletes laced up their skates and joined the Admirals on the ice. The group skated with players and coaches and even picked up sticks to try their hand at hockey, testing their slapshots on goalie Dustin Tokarski.

The Special Olympians then took over the coaching as they instructed the Admirals in their respective sports. Right wing Matt Fornataro took a figure skating lesson, while Tim Marks and Scott Jackson picked up speed skating tips.

Finally, the speed skaters held an impromptu race around the boards at Scope as the Admirals cheered and tapped their sticks on the ice in a traditional hockey salute.

The Admirals will be hosting their annual Special Olympics Night, presented by SunTrust Saturday, January 8 at Scope as they take on the Connecticut Whale. A portion of ticket sales will benefit Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics athletes are gearing up for their Winter Championships, to be held January 13-14. For more information on Special Olympics, please visit

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