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Can Mom's Photos Save Norwalk Hockey?

Hockey is her son's passion, and to help save his team Gina Arena turned to a hobby she had let go – photography. Pictures shot by the Norwalk mom have boosted the morale of the Brien McMahon High School/Norwalk High School Co-op Hockey team, which has struggled with disappointment in the past.

But there’s more. Her pictures from "the season that shouldn't have been" now decorate City Hall's first floor atrium, where Arena figures they'll catch the attention of Board of Education members.

That's important because the team may be cut from the school budge t . "We're on the list," Arena says.

Neither school has enough hockey players to field its own team, hence the 18-member co-op team. Its existence has been threatened before. Arena's photos capture the 2009-2010 season, which followed the board’s previous look into cutting the team.

"I've been playing for a long time," says Arena's 17-year-old nephew, Nick Hulbert. "I wouldn't want to stop."

He and his cousin, Anthony Arena, 15, began playing as toddlers in the Darien Youth Hockey Association . Now they play on the same line in the co-op squad. "It's the only sport I play," Anthony says. "Without this team I probably wouldn't play any sports. I wouldn't have anything to do."

Anthony says the team loves his mom's pictures, which she posts on a Facebook page . "Whenever there's a good picture of a big hit or a goal, it raises morale," he says. "This exhibit is promoting the team a little bit. It shows that we care, so hopefully the Board of Ed doesn't cut it."

Arena, an art teacher at Weston High School, was surprised by the photos herself. "It was a losing season. We only won one game," she says. "When I would look at these pictures and see what came out, I saw victory. I feel like when you walk around and look at this you say, 'Oh, this must have been some championship team.' When these kids celebrated for a goal that they had scored was like they won the Stanley Cup."

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