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Middle school hockey club gets a big boost from NHL alumni

Brad Maxwell skates with the RMS Hockey Club Whether you lived here your entire life or moved here, Minnesotans understand the importance of hockey.

When Australia native Brenton Parsons started teaching English at the Richfield Middle School, he was amazed that there wasn’t any organized team for his students.

Inspired by his time growing up playing hockey back in Australia at a roller rink followed by 14 years of teaching in Columbus, Ohio, hockey was a part of who he is, so he set out to put his passion for the game and energy towards creating a team for middle school students.

When Parsons reached out to find resources from the city, he was met with positive feedback. Recreation Supervisor Nick Thompson was even having a similar idea.

“I was already trying to tap into the middle school market for hockey,” remembered Thompson. “However, Brenton was a step ahead of me.”

Thompson helped Parsons get the club off the ground, ensuring the Donaldson Park ice rink was reserved, in pristine condition and that the club had access to the warming house.

“Nick Thompson and the city’s Recreation Services Department moved heaven and earth to make sure we had everything that we needed,” explained Parsons. “The club wouldn’t be possible without the city’s help.”

After getting a place to practice, Parsons realized many kids weren’t playing hockey because they didn’t have the resources.

He had the kids fill out a Google form to see what kind of equipment they needed, and from there set out in search of skates, sticks, and pads.

Parsons posted on hockeyfinder.com, an online community for local hockey players, as well as the Richfield Facebook and Nextdoor pages.

In his quest for donations, someone was able to connect him with Brad Maxwell, a retired NHL player who had played for the Minnesota North Stars.

Parsons told Maxwell that he would love to get a couple pairs of skates, and Maxwell, who is also the president of the NHL Alumni Association, was able to organize a substantial gear donation to the club.

“I was expecting a few pairs of skates and some sticks, and he showed up with a big van full of gear,” laughed Parsons. “The donation included more than 20 pairs of skates, gloves, a dozen sticks, mouth guards, jerseys, and more. To our club, the donation equaled years’ worth of equipment. We can use this as the club grows to make sure any kids who want to play, can.”

However, Maxwell’s generosity and interest in the club didn’t stop there. On Thursday, February 21, Maxwell showed up to practice at Donaldson Park with fellow retired NHL star Tom Younghans.

The two helped fit the kids with proper gear and shot the puck around with the young hockey enthusiasts. They even helped beginners practice skating and get more comfortable on the ice.

Overall, the club’s success has been a community effort. Even prior to Maxwell’s involvement with the club, donations came in from residents throughout Richfield. Residents donated everything from equipment to a gift card to sharpen skates. Such donations show how passionate and supportive the Richfield community is about hockey and its youth.

Ellie Bender, City of Richfield