Originally posted on The Other Paper  |  Last updated 11/16/12

It's already pretty hard to find ice time in the state of New Jersey and with the high school hockey season getting under way, rink availability comes at a premium price — especially after Hurricane Sandy. Since the NHL is cooling its skates during the lockout, New Jersey Devils owner  Jeff Vanderbeek is opening the gates of the Prudential Center so that Newark's East Side High School hockey team can begin their season, reports NJ.com. The Red Raiders regular rink at the Ironbound Recreation Center is still not back on line after the superstorm shut down much of the state. "They haven't been able to get ice down," said Keith Veltre, who with another teacher Dennis Ruppe, founded Hockey in Newark — a Devils-sponsored program that teaches the game to local students. The East Side team was looking at losing lots of practice time in their schedule while other teams were gearing up for the season.  The team can now practice as long as needed at The Rock, said Veltre. "It essentially saved our season," he said.  The Devils loaned their practice rink to East Side last year after Hurricane Irene. Imagine the thrill of skating on the same ice as forward Patrick Elias or minding the same net where Martin Brodeur rests his water bottle. Vanderbeek said he took a lot of pride in the program which has helped send a few students to college. "We're committed to this program," he said.  "It's also making sure for kids that there's something they can do with their time." The Devils may not be looking at a lot of ice time this season and — with the Nets wowing the crowds over in Brooklyn —  there's no reason to leave The Rock silent.  These cheers just might be louder than you think.

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