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First Shift program welcomes new players on the ice

January 27, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

 

It’s probably the most popular sport in Canada, and likely the most expensive to play when you figure in the cost of ice time, league fees, and equipment.

But hockey, of course, is more than just a game in the Great White North.

The First Shift program offers young players the chance to suit up and get on the ice at a nominal cost to see if they like the sport.

Locally, the First Shift event was held at the Royal Canadian Legion in Shelburne on Thursday, January 12, and it was a full house, with all available positions filled.

Organized by Hockey Canada and sponsored by Canadian Tire and Bauer – who supplied the equipment – young players were suited up from top to bottom in hockey equipment for a nominal cost of $199.

“We’ve got 47 kids signed up with the program,” explained event organizer Jonathan Geiring, President of Shelburne Wolves Minor Hockey. “This program is designed to attract new people to the sport of hockey. It’s designed for kids ages six- to ten-years-old who have never played hockey before. There are only two prerequisites for the program: they have to be that age and have never played the sport of hockey.”

As most people involved in the sport know, suiting up a hockey player can cost a lot. But what happens if you shell out the big bucks and your child decides it just isn’t for them?

The First Shift program allows families to give it a try at a reasonable cost.

“Bauer is a sports equipment manufacturer who is donating all the equipment to this program,” Mr. Geiring said. “For $199 the kids come to this event and get fitted from head to toe in hockey equipment, from skates, knee pads, socks, jerseys, helmets, and sticks, the whole nine yards. They get six one-hour on ice sessions starting in February where we go through the fundamentals of hockey and explain the rules and teach them how to skate.”

Many coaches and staff from Shelburne Minor Hockey were involved in the event, which brought in kids not only from Shelburne but from around the region, and as far away as Collingwood.

In an interesting sign of the times, about half the kids who registered were girls.

Girls’ hockey has really evolved over the past several years, with more and more young females enjoying the sport.

“Upon completion of the program, the kids all get to keep their hockey equipment and we welcome them back and we hope they sign up with their respective hockey associations,” Mr. Geiring said.

Judging from the enthusiasm displayed by the kids as they suited up, minor hockey ranks are going to have quite a few new players come next season.

         

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