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Devils, teens take a slap shot at life

"I always had hockey, that's why I never did drugs," he said. "I just focused 100 percent and tried to forget everything else."

Devils players Andy Thomas and Chris Murray also spoke to the Hope House teens, and answered enthusiastic questions ranging from fights on the ice to diet and exercise.

The Devils use the Bethlehem YMCA's skating rink for practice time. That's been a beneficial partnership for the Y, said branch Executive Director Derek Martin, and he's happy to see it expanding.

"I think its' a great opportunity for the Devils and the Y to collaborate," he said. "They've been looking at ways to really get their name out in the community. It's also a great way for the Y to develop our social responsibility."

In March, the YMCA is planning to take kids in its Circle of Champs program for sick children to an Albany Devils game, and the team will recognize the group on the ice.

Teens at the Hope House generally undergo a six- to nine-month program in the 20-bed facility. Staff there try to instill a need for healthy choices that extends beyond substance abuse to healthy eating, exercise and education. The teens also travel to schools to speak to other at-risk youths.

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