A bunch of young hockey players took to the Rexall Place ice last night, and it wasn’t the Oil Kings.

The Hockey Education Reaching Out Society, or H.E.R.O.S. program, saw two teams of young boys and girls play a game yesterday night on the NHL rink in honour of their hard work all season. They were even able to meet and get autographs from new Oiler defenceman Ryan Whitney.

The H.E.R.O.S. program is a Canadian charity that runs in cities across the country. It gives underprivileged children the chance to play hockey. By providing equipment and practices, it uses hockey to promote strong qualities, like confidence, teamwork and responsibility.

Lenny Andrichuk has been one of the organizers for the Edmonton chapter since it came here three years ago. He called leading the program the best experience of his life, because of how grateful the kids are.

“None of these kids are playing hockey to be pros,” Andrichuk said. “They’re playing hockey to make friendships and develop skills ... it’s really a life program more than it is a hockey program.”

A strong supporter of the program since 2004, Telus helped set up the night, allowing the kids to skate at Rexall.

Twelve-year-old Jesse Williams said he was excited to be a part of the event, and other events that come along with being a part of H.E.R.O.S.

“It’s been pretty fun,” he said. “I mean you get new experiences and you get to meet new people that you wouldn’t meet if you didn’t get to go here. You get to learn how to have fun and just play hockey.