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When Hockey Stops Empowers Youth Resilience in the Face of Extraordinary Challenge

Book Cover

Author Lee M.J. Elias

Co-author Christie Casciano Burns,

We wanted to write a story that acknowledges that loss and gives young athletes the tools needed to face adversity of any kind while strengthening their mental fitness in the process.”
— Lee Elias, author of 'When Hockey Stops'
WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES, February 10, 2022 / -- Drawing inspiration from challenges foisted upon youth athletes in response to the global pandemic, authors Lee M.J. Elias and Christie Casciano Burns present a symbolic and poignant narrative about handling life-altering change in a new children’s book titled When Hockey Stops, (Blue Balloon Books), now available for early access and pre-order.

"Kids, particularly youth athletes, experienced a unique kind of loss when the pandemic struck. As adults, we had to adapt to work situations and children being at home, but for kids, all COVID did was take away the sports and activities they were most passionate about. It begged the question, "what do you do when you can’t do what you love?” said author Lee Elias. “We wanted to write a story that acknowledges that loss and gives young athletes the tools needed to face adversity of any kind while strengthening their mental fitness in the process,” added Elias.

Christie Casciano Burns also drew from her two children's experiences as youth hockey players. Her son and daughter were both sidelined by injuries. "While they had plenty of resources to heal their physical injuries, it was also important for them to stay mentally focused and mentally healthy during their recovery. Lee and I wanted to provide some guidance for kids to show how they can return to the game even stronger than before!"

When Hockey Stops follows León, a standout athlete and league-leading scorer, whose team is advancing toward a championship title when he is suddenly sidelined with a season-ending injury. For the first time in his life, León cannot pursue his passion for reasons beyond his control. Unable to help his team win on the ice, León struggles to cope with unexpected loss and to deal with his time off the ice.

It is the emotional ups and downs that present the bigger challenges for León. The book explores how the broader themes of resilience, sportsmanship, teamwork, and leadership combine to reveal to León that mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness when it comes to overcoming adversity.

“As someone who has found more than one way to be involved in the game, this book spoke to me on a bunch of different levels. Adversity can be a great teacher. When Hockey Stops gives readers the tools to overcome challenges and excel in whatever they choose to do.”
--Ryan Whitney, NHL Alumni, Host of Spittin’ Chiclets

The story came together quickly for authors Lee M.J. Elias and Christie Casciano Burns, who are well-known personalities within the hockey community with deep roots in the game via firsthand experiences. The duo co-host the weekly podcast Our Kids Play Hockey with their friend and coaching expert, Mike Bonelli.

Elias, who has coached at the professional and collegiate level, is the award-winning author of Win: What Every Team Needs to Know to Create a Championship Culture. He is the co-owner of Hockey Wrap Around, Ultimate Sports Nation, and WeLive.Hockey and the owner of Game Seven Group. He recently began coaching at the youth level when his son joined a local club team.

Casciano Burns penned the popular The Puck Hog 1, The Puck Hog 2: Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid and My Kids Play Hockey. She is a television news anchor in Syracuse, NY. She also writes a parent advice column for USA Hockey Magazine. Both of Christie's children played youth hockey and her daughter plays NCAA Division 1 college hockey.

Signed and personalized copies of When Hockey Stops are now available for early access only at The book becomes available everywhere books are sold on March 29, 2022.

Blue Balloon Books is the children’s imprint from Ballast Books, a full-service book publisher delivering world-class production and marketing services to meet the needs of today’s book authors. Learn more at and

Andy Symmonds/ Mary Beth Albertini
Blue Balloon Books
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