The Hockey Weekend Across America (HWAA) initiative, now in its third season, is a nationwide effort led by USA Hockey to celebrate the great game of hockey at all levels. HWAA also strives to share hockey with new audiences. Once again, the Coyotes have a busy weekend planned to help support this great initiative.
The event kicks off on Friday, January 29 with “Wear Your Favorite Jersey Day.” Students and adults across Arizona are encouraged to wear their favorite hockey jersey to school or work. Photos can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org and photo submissions will be highlighted during the Coyotes’ January 30 home game against the New York Rangers at Jobing.com Arena as well as during FOX Sports Arizona’s broadcast of the game. The Coyotes Hockey Development Program will also be visiting local schools on Friday to conduct street hockey clinics in physical education classes.
Saturday, January 30 has been designated by USA Hockey as “Bring a Friend to the Rink Day.” The Coyotes will be offering ticket specials to all Arizona hockey players for their 6 p.m. game versus the New York Rangers at Jobing.com Arena that night. For information on tickets, players can contact their local hockey association. The Coyotes will also be inducting former Winnipeg Jets and Coyotes defenseman Teppo Numminen into the Coyotes Ring of Honor prior to the game.
In conjunction with USA Hockey’s “Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day” on Sunday, January 31, the Coyotes will honor a group of hockey heroes from around the state of Arizona during an intermission of the Coyotes-Rangers game.
In addition to the off-ice activities surrounding HWAA, it will also be a busy weekend of hockey on the ice in the Valley. In addition to the Coyotes-Rangers game at Jobing.com Arena, there will be free introductory hockey clinics conducted by Kids First at Arcadia Ice Arena in Phoenix, the Ice Den in Scottsdale and Polar Ice in Gilbert and Chandler.
The Arizona State Division I men’s club hockey team (currently ranked #7 in the ACHA rankings) will play its in-state rival, the University of Arizona Wildcats, at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The Phoenix Polar Bears Jr. A team will be hosting a weekend series against the Boise Jr. Steelheads at Polar Ice in Chandler while the Arizona Redhawks Jr. A team will be hosting a weekend series against the San Diego Gulls at Polar Ice in Peoria. A full schedule of youth hockey events can be found at www.phoenixcoyotes.com/hwaa.
The highlight of the weekend will be “24 Hours of Hockey” hosted by the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. The event kicks off with the Coyotes-Rangers game at 6 p.m. and continues throughout the night and into Sunday with a total of 15 consecutive youth and adult hockey games. Each age group is being represented in the event which will end with a game featuring Coyotes and NHL alumni at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the entire event is free, while the Coyotes at Dallas Stars game at 4 p.m. on Sunday will be shown on the Coyotes video board inside Jobing.com Arena. Check back to www.phoenixcoyotes.com on January 25 for a full schedule of games.
For more information, visit www.phoenixcoyotes.com/hwaa.
Market blitzes are conducted by hosting state-wide “Try Hockey for Free” clinics with the goal of inviting potential new players and their parents to the rink. The events in Massachusetts and California will see over 500 new players come out and try youth hockey. For more information on how you can host a similar event to grow your association, please click here (pdf).
USA Hockey is seeking at least 200 rinks offering a free trial of hockey on Saturday, Jan. 30. All hosting rinks are required to hold the free trial at a consistent time of 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. local time. The final goal is to get as many first-time players on the ice and later transition them to each host site’s full-time programs. For more information, please click here (pdf). For more information about Hockey Weekend Across America, please click here.
So what’s the solution? Give it away.
Not all of it, of course, but the industry needs to create a new supply of players in North America. The rate of people taking to the ice in Wilcox, Sask., or Roseau, Minn., isn’t going to change; it’s New York City or downtown Toronto where things can grow and, fortunately, the foundation is there.
One initiative, supported by the NHL, NHLPA and major companies in the industry, is the OneGoal grassroots movement. The premise here is to get more kids playing hockey by offering them low-cost opportunities to try on the gear, get out on the ice and play. Since hockey is expensive as a sport, parents need to know if their kids actually like playing, or just think they want to play before tossing their helmet in the back of a closet with their bass guitar and judo outfit.
There will always be hockey players, no matter how rough things get out there. But if the industry wants to be savvier than they’ve been in the past, they’ll keep fostering players in major cities, even if the end result is “only” a couple more happy kids in the short-term. With so many other options available to kids, it’s the long-term love of the game that matters.
Editor's Note: Thank you to The Hockey News for this article.
Any time a team is invited to skate with the Aeros during the National Anthem or perform during the intermission, they will be given a “sign-up” table in the concourse to provide free public skate passes to any fan that signs up. This will allow both the league and their respective rinks to collect contact information and keep new fans up-to-date with their tryouts, events, and any special offers. There has been an overwhelming response to this initiative and all parties are excited to begin and expand the program during the season. For more information on this program, click here.
"You gotta love it. It's so inspiring seeing them," said Lindsay Norris, a senior player on the Essex High School varsity team, and a graduate of the Essex Youth Hockey program. "They never seem to get frustrated.... they fall down and the next minute you go to help them back up and they're already half way back up and they're just right back at it and it's really cool."
Equipment was provided free of charge to the players. Players were allowed to keep it if they decided that they wanted to continue pursuing the sport after participating in the program. For more information on the Essex Youth Hockey Association, click here.
Additionally, each season over 40,000 kids stop playing youth hockey. Much of this loss can be reduced through a little extra follow up. In order to help hockey clubs retain existing players and grow their numbers, USA Hockey has created a step-by-step retention model. To see this model, click here (pdf).
The program format is two hours long, with one group skating or learning the basics of how to play hockey while the other group is taken to the conference room for a science lesson on how the ice arena makes ice. Newark has introduced hockey and ice skating to over 600 children in the area with grades ranging from first to sixth.
As a result of these efforts, membership numbers have increased by 11 percent, which does not include the 2009-10 season. The ice arena has also grown their open skate numbers with this program. For specifics on Newark’s Score for Schools program, click here (pdf).
Editor's Note: For more information on the Grow the Game Initiative, click here...
“We’re looking forward to holding the first-ever WhiteOut at Jobing.com Arena at this year’s Home Opener,” said Moss. “We received tremendous support from our fans during the summer, so this a way for us to thank them while also celebrating the start of a new hockey season.”
The Coyotes are extending a special ticket offer to the public for the Oct. 10 game. All lower bowl seats are available for just $25 while all upper level seats are on sale for only $15. The tickets go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. and are only available online at www.phoenixcoyotes.com. The NHL has also offered a 15% discount on merchandise at www.shop.nhl.com that will be included with every ticket order through Sept. 30.
All fans in attendance at the game will receive a “Welcome Back WhiteOut” t-shirt and white pom-poms, courtesy of Jobing.com. The game begins at 6 p.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets to an upcoming Phoenix Coyotes game, visit www.phoenixcoyotes.com or call 480-563-PUCK (7825).
HockeyShot, which is one of the largest online specialty retailers of hockey training equipment in North America, has announced their support of the Grow the Game Initiative. JP Brun, Co-Founder of HockeyShot stated, “We are so pleased to be a part of the Grow the Game Initiative and applaud their work in building excitement in youth hockey programs throughout the U.S. We are delighted to help in their efforts to develop an interest and passion in young players that will continue to grow throughout their lives.”
One key focus of the partnership will be HockeyShot’s support of each state’s Grow the Game programs. Hockey Shot will support the Initiative by offering regular reviews of hockey training equipment as well as providing prizes for various promotional contests within the program.
“We are thrilled to have HockeyShot on board with the Grow the Game Initiative. Their knowledge of the training tools that will help players develop skills provides a valuable source of information to our readers. They are a top-notch organization and we are excited to work with them as we Grow the Game of hockey across the United States,” TK Stohlman, President of the Youth Sports Coalition stated.
Future plans for the HockeyShot and Grow the Game partnership include working together to increase player participation and player recruitment. Other plans include local state contests to increase hockey participation as well as development of Grow the Game materials to help parents improve the youth hockey experience for kids.
About Hockey Shot
HockeyShot has become one of the largest online specialty retailers of hockey training equipment in North America, carrying an excellent selection at competitive prices and priding itself on customer service and satisfaction. They offer hockey training instructions, videos, tips and other hockey resources. HockeyShot manufactures some of its own products under the HockeyShot brand and is a distributor for many other products. For more information on HockeyShot, visit their website at www.HockeyShot.com.
About Grow the Game Initiative
The Grow the Game Initiative is a national program to grow the game of hockey across the U.S. Founded by the Youth Sports Coalition the Grow the Game Initiative’s goal is to grow the game of hockey so that all players learn life lessons through hockey participation.
Editor's Note: For more information on the Grow the Game Initiative, click here...