North Okanagan Minor Hockey Association coach Rory Taber (left) accepts donations of new equipment for some local players from former NHL player Jason Podollan and his Up My Hockey brand, courtesy of Bauer Hockey. (Photo submitted)

North Okanagan Minor Hockey Association coach Rory Taber (left) accepts donations of new equipment for some local players from former NHL player Jason Podollan and his Up My Hockey brand, courtesy of Bauer Hockey. (Photo submitted)

Ex-NHLer sets up North Okanagan kids with new gear

Jason Podollan teams up with Bauer Hockey to help out some worthy families with new hockey equipment

The Up My Hockey platform created by a former Vernon NHL player has lifted up a number of minor hockey players.

Jason Podollan, 44, father of three and a youth hockey coach, played 41 NHL games for the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and New York Islanders after being a Panthers’ second-round 1994 draft pick from the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He created the platform Up My Hockey, which includes a podcast, mentoring, coaching and course development.

Through his brand, Podollan has connected with some interesting networking opportunities and programs, including having Dampy Brar on his podcast. Brar won the NHL Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in 2020 for his work growing the grassroots of hockey in the South Asian community with his company APNA Hockey.

Brar’s company joined an equipment initiative sponsored by Bauer Hockey to grow the game and provide gear to those who could use it.

“My platform, Up My Hockey, also joined the program and was able to secure 18 pieces of brand new equipment for young local area athletes in Vernon, Armstrong and Lumby,” said Podollan, who also won a gold medal for Canada at the 1996 World Junior Hockey Championships. “I reached out to three different teams and was provided with wish lists.”

Podollan was able to distribute gloves, skates, sticks and helmets on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

North Okanagan Minor Hockey Association coach Rory Taber helped provide some names to Podollan.

“There are a couple of kids I coach that are using outdated or broken equipment, one has been using a road hockey stick that doesn’t have much left on it so these are going to be a great surprise,” said Taber. “I know the kids are going to be quite excited.”

The donations are to help grow the game of hockey.

“We want people to play hockey and get involved,” said Podollan, who has guests like O’Ree, former Vernon NHL player Jerred Smithson, NHL Hall of Famer (and Team Canada 1996 teammate) Jarome Iginla and former Vernon Lakers star Dane Jackson on his Up My Hockey podcast. His show “pulls back the curtain on how to make a career out of hockey and the high-performance habits required.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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