The NHL lockout is over but hockey fans didn't have to wait very long to watch some extraordinary athletes play the game as part of Special Olympics New Jersey 2013 State Floor Hockey Tournament.
Hockey is back in South Jersey as the Special Olympics New Jersey annual State Floor Hockey Tournament took place at Richard Stockton College this Saturday and Sunday, giving hundreds of special needs athletes an opportunity to play the game they love.
"We really love it back home in mercer and when we play at Stewart County Day School we have a lot of fun down there but when we come here it's an awesome time this is," expressed Justin Reside of the Mercer Generals.
"This is an absolutely wonderful program to have the chance these athletes to get to come into a setting such as this at this wonderful college and to actually play for gold, silver, and bronze," explained Special Olympics Floor Hockey League Director Mark Jacobus.
Fifteen teams, from around the state competed over the weekend for the opportunity to be crowned champion of their respective divisions, but to these athletes winning is not what the league is about.
"Just having fun that's what it's all about it's not about winning or losing it's all about having fun," explained Salvatore Finocchinaro of the Kingsway Coyotes.
"It's just a wonderful experience a wonderful weekend and these guys really show what's true sportsmanship is all about that it's truly the celebration of all the wonderful things in life," Coach John DeMasi of the Mercer Generals explained.
And as these incredible athletes enjoyed their time out there, many who watched say they just enjoyed seeing them happy.
"Nothing compares to it to see these small athletes and even some of the older athletes just have smiles on their faces," Jacobus said.
"It's beyond what a normal competitive sport is. it's extremely special," explained Coach Lissa Myers of the Kingsway Coyotes.