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    by Former Senator Mark Begich

    Posted on 2014-01-09

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    BEGICH. Mr. President, I wish to recognize Hockey Week in Fairbanks, a terrific annual celebration that takes place every winter. It has become so popular it will run for 10 days, from January 31 to February 9, 2014. During our long Alaskan winters, we welcome entertainment that celebrations like this offer and the outdoor and indoor activity that hockey represents.

    Ice hockey has long been a popular sport all over Alaska, with leagues that run all year for players of all age groups. Due to the commitment and interest of players, coaches, and boosters, a Fairbanks Hockey Hall of Fame was established to honor those who helped develop the sport in Interior Alaska. Because of the foresight and enthusiasm of the hall's board, they also sponsor hockey week.

    The activities during 2014 hockey week are varied. There is the popular ``Wear Your Jersey to School Day,'' tournaments for youth, puck shooting, a contest for the best backyard rink, ice sculptures with hockey themes, and much more. Typical of the civic spirit of the organizers and partisans, they sponsor reading programs in elementary schools and conduct blood donation drives as well, during the week.

    This year, the organizers have attracted a major exhibit. The outreach program of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto will send artifacts from its collection to be on display in Fairbanks and, later, in Anchorage. Fans will see jerseys, sticks, skates, and many other items belonging to some of the greats who have played professionally.

    Each year, the celebration seems to top the previous year's. One of the reasons it does is because of the major force behind the event: Randy Zarnke, the president of the Fairbanks Hockey Hall of Fame. The year after he wrote a book about Fairbanks hockey pioneers in 2005, he started this remarkable celebration. I am happy to add my thanks for his leadership. ____________________

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