The Chelsea Challenge is an LGBTI friendly ice hockey tournament hosted by the New York City Gay Hockey Association set to take place Friday, June 21st to June 23 right at the start of World Pride/ Stonewall 50 this year. 240 skaters are expected to come to NYC for the event with the tournament offering four divisions in a round robin tournament leading up to the championship games on Sunday.
The New York Gay Hockey Association is New York’s first official LGBTQI hockey team. Their goal is to “provide an environment free of harassment and discrimination for members and friends of the LGBT community to play ice hockey and fulfill their athletic aspirations.“
The Chelsea Challenge is NYCGHA’s biggest tournament and traditionally takes place annually in June. This year’s event is special with the timing of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which is considered as the event which launched the modern LGBTQI rights movement.
In addition to hosting the tournament, there will be a variety of social events and activities held in conjunction with World Pride for the players and athletic supporters to take part. The NHL which has an active and strong relationship with NYCGHA is planning to send a team of NHL staff to compete in the tournament as a team. The NHL team will include NHL Alumni and Stanley Cup champion Andrew Ference as the Team’s Captain. Ference serves as NHL’s Director of Social Impact, Growth, and Fan Development.
The NY Rangers are also going to have some alumni in attendance at the Chelsea Challenge Banquet on Saturday, June 22nd. The tournament will also include a raffle fundraiser to raise money for the NYCGHA and the Ali Forney Center which works “to protect LGBTQ youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently.“ The raffle will feature items donated by several NHL clubs and other organizations to give away.
The NYCGHA recently joined with the New York Rangers and took to the ice at Madison Square Garden during the Ranger’s Pride Night last January. The NYCGHA is a year round recreational hockey league consisting of five teams and three competitive teams that participate in the Chelsea Piers adult hockey league. Anybody who is interested in learning or playing hockey is encouraged to visit http://nycgha.org/ where you can find more information.
By Dirk Smith