Saturday, July 21, 2012
July by the Numbers visits the island nation of Puerto Rico for jersey #21.
Hockey Puerto Rico was formed in 2004 with the opening of the Aguadilla Ice Skating Arena on the island's west coast. The first team formed was the Tainos, with the name taken from the indigenous Indians who greeted Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the new world.
The biggest event in Puerto Rican hockey by far was the September 23, 2006 NHL exhibition game between the Florida Panthers and "host" New York Rangers held in the capital of San Juan, which was won by the Rangers 3-2 in a game played at the 16,500 seat Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum.
The Rangers wore Puerto Rican flags during the game to mark the occasion, certainly one of the more unusual patches ever to grace an NHL jersey.
Panthers defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski said. “Everyone I tell about this trip just shakes their head. They can’t believe we’re playing in Puerto Rico. I think this is great for the game. If there’s hockey in Florida, why not Puerto Rico and the Caribbean?"
At the grass roots level, local pick-up games were held starting in 2004, but ongoing difficulties with the skating arena management has seen a loss of ice time, which threatens to kill off the once growing games held there on a regular basis. For more on the battle the local hockey organizers have been facing, please visit this story on the IIHF website.
Today's featured jersey is a 2006-07 Puerto Rico Roberto Clemente camiseta. It's based on a 1994 New York Rangers blank jersey which was then crested as a Puerto Rico jersey, including the "Orgullo" (local pride) flag and the #21 in honor of Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente.
Bonus camiseta: Today's bonus jersey is a 2010-11 Puerto Rico Roberto Clemete camiseta which was created by starting with the template for the striping used by the Jacksonville Barracudas.
It has the addition of the Puerto Rico flag on one sleeve and El Morro, the fort which overlooks the entrance to San Juan's harbor on the other
In today's video section, footage of the Rangers exhibition game against the Panthers in Puerto Rico in September of 2006.