UPDATE: Turns out we were #4 in the country for participants at Try Hockey Free Day. But if you take a look at the communities where the numbers were larger, we still pulled off an impressive event. The one town that is similar in size to ours is less than 30 miles from a major city. We sure look forward to seeing many of those smiling hockey faces back next fall to join our program!
Try Hockey Free Day was held on February 20, 2016. USA Hockey (USAH) along with corporate sponsors, Kraft Heinz, Liberty Mutual, and Total Hockey, provide support for organizations all over the country to host these annual opportunities for young children to try hockey at no cost. Each of the first 40 registrants go home with a brand new stick and jersey, and associations can win hockey equipment based on the turnout they have. Local hockey associations provide loaner skates, helmets, and sticks as well as coaching staff for the event. We were thankful for assistance with loaner equipment from Spirit Lake Schools, Worthington Hockey Association, and numerous private donors.
The LAHA has hosted the event for many years, but this year’s event topped the charts with 137 children lacing up skates, many for the first time ever. In fact, the LAHA event was four times bigger than the national average. Some interesting statistics from the event include:
Event coordinator, Jared Foster, was thrilled with the results. “Today was an amazing success! We had 137 kids try hockey for the first time. That is huge! This would never have happened without our amazing volunteers. They each played a vital role in this and they should be very proud.”
A large percentage of those volunteers were youth hockey players themselves. The Bantam (ages 14-15) players and coaches took on the coaching duties for the day. Stations were set up around the ice and the Bantam players taught youngsters various hockey drills at each station. There was also a Learn to Skate station for those who were brand new skaters. Many of these kids picked up skating skills quickly and moved right on to the hockey drills. To manage the large turnout, event coordinators divided the skaters into 4 groups. Each group ended their session with a scrimmage. Even though there was plenty of falling and struggling, there was also lots of giggling and confidence building too. One budding hockey player said, “It hurt, but it was also fun!” He was quickly reassured by an experienced player that falling was part of learning, but that it wouldn’t take him long to get really good on those skates.
The event was topped off with a raucous game of hockey between the Mini Mites and Bantams. While the Bantams played with upside sticks and periodically were not permitted to move their feet, they did manage to score 6 goals. The Minis, with their outstanding puck handling and shooting skills outscored the Bantams with 12 goals. There were accusations that the referees were biased toward the Minis, but no witnesses were able to corroborate those claims. Visit the Try Hockey page to view photos and video! All in all, a super day!
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All programs offered at the Boji Bay Ice Arena are managed by the Lakes Area Hockey Association.
Our mission is to create, nurture, and sustain ice-related sports and recreation programs that teach and improve skills;
to foster sportsmanship, teamwork, and enjoyment; and improve fitness. These programs are financially accessible and
meet the needs and interests of participants of all ages and skill levels throughout the corridor.