COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - During October and November, nearly 2,400 boys and girls tried hockey for the first time as part of Hockey Days in various parts of the United States, including the Atlantic Region, Florida, Missouri, New England and Texas.
With significant resources provided by OneGoal, the North American consortium dedicated to bringing new boys and girls into the sport; organizational efforts of USA Hockey, including various youth hockey teams and associations; and help from National Hockey League clubs, the events allowed youngsters to try hockey for free.
The Hockey Days, part of USA Hockey's Come Play Youth Hockey initiative to promote the growth of youth hockey in the United States, featured several rinks across a state or region hosting Try Hockey For Free Clinics for kids ages four to nine.
"We're extremely pleased with the turnout across the country," said Pat Kelleher, assistant executive director for membership development at USA Hockey. "It's a credit to the work of many who are dedicated to our game. These events are a great opportunity for families to experience the excitement of youth hockey at no cost."
Recaps of the five Hockey Days that have taken place this season can be found below. The final Hockey Day of 2010 - Hockey Day in Western New York - will be held on December 11, in cooperation with the New York State Amateur Hockey Association and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. For more information on how to get involved, and to view a list of participating rinks, visit HockeyDayinWesternNewYork.com.
A nationwide Try Hockey For Free day will be held in conjunction with Hockey Weekend Across America on Saturday, February 19, 2011.
HOCKEY DAY IN NEW ENGLAND
On Nov. 6, more than 1,500 boys and girls in USA Hockey's Massachusetts and New England (Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) Districts took to the ice to celebrate Hockey Day in New England. Fifty-six local associations and rinks hosted Try Hockey for Free opportunities in conjunction with the NHL's Boston Bruins.
GIRLS' HOCKEY DAY IN FLORIDA
On Nov. 7, four sites in Florida welcomed 114 girls to hockey in Girls’ Hockey Day in Florida, held in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL. U.S. Olympic silver medalist Brianne McLaughlin assisted with the clinic held at the St. Pete Times Forum. As a matter of comparison, in 2009-10, Florida had 52 new girls between the ages of four to eight years-old register to play hockey, which is the peak number in the state of Florida over the past 10 years. Girl Scouts of the USA also participated in various Try Hockey For Free clinics throughout the state.
HOCKEY DAY IN TEXAS
On Oct. 30, the Texas Amateur Hockey Association joined with the NHL's Dallas Stars and AHL's Houston Aeros for Hockey Day in Texas, which brought out 374 boys and girls who tried hockey for free at 15 locations. At Chaparral Ice Arena in Austin, Texas, 89 new youth were on the ice for the first time.
HOCKEY DAYS IN MISSOURI AND ATLANTIC
On Oct. 23, Hockey Day in Missouri was conducted with the help of the NHL's St. Louis Blues, and featured 13 locations with 250 youth trying hockey for free.
Girls’ Hockey Day in Atlantic also took place on Oct. 23, with the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association and the NHL's New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, assisting with the event. The day included 135 girls participating in Try Hockey For Free Clinics at eight different sites across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Current and former members of the U.S. Women's National Team were on hand at several Try Hockey For Free clinics in the Atlantic Region, including U.S. Olympic silver medalist Erika Lawler, who assisted with clinics in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, four-time U.S. Olympic medalist Jenny Potter and two-time U.S. Olympic medalist Shelley Looney helped teach newcomers at a site in Newark.
OneGoal is a nonprofit organization comprised of a coalition of the National Hockey League (NHL), the NHL Players Association (NHLPA), the NHL Alumni Association, USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, rinks, Easton-Bell, Reebok-CCM, Bauer, retailers, and many others across North America who are involved with hockey. The “one goal” of this group is to build greater awareness and understanding of hockey so parents can make informed decisions about involving their families in the sport. For those who did not grow up with the game, OneGoal makes it easier and less intimidating to join in on everything that hockey has to offer. Find out more at OneGoal.com.
photos Janos Schmidt