Everyone has to start somewhere.
For future hockey players, that could very well be on Saturday during Try Hockey For Free Day at McMorran Arena. The event – held 2-3 p.m. – is geared toward 4-8-year-olds who are looking to get their first taste of the game.
“We just to try to introduce kids to hockey, a lot of kids might not have interest is it or parents will say it’s too expensive,” organizer Eric Beauchamp said. “It’s an avenue to try to introduce some kids to the game or skating.”
While most participants are 4-8, they’ve had kids as young as 2 and as old as 15 in years past. No matter how old or what the skating abilities are, the hour-long session is broken up to adapt to anyone looking to participate.
“A lot of the kids that are a little more advanced will be moved to one side of the ice, maybe go around a cone, pass to a friend or shoot on a goalie,” Beauchamp said. “New skaters are on the other side of the ice, and they (learn to skate by) pushing around a chair, and some even just make snow angels.”
Participants will receive helmets, skates and sticks upon checking in to use for the afternoon, and they’re also encouraged to wear snow pants and a sweatshirt.
Beauchamp also encourages incoming skaters to register online at phhockey.com in order to save some time at the rink. Walk-ups will also be welcome.
While they’ll have to return the equipment used, they’ll be walking away with free USA Hockey jerseys and NHL trading cards, among other giveaways.
In some cases, the young skaters and their families decide to further grow their knowledge of the ice by signing up for their Learn to Skate Program.
“They all love (Try Hockey for Free),” Beauchamp said. “They get a (certificate) of completion at the end, and 10 to 20 percent will sign up for our Learn to Skate Program.”