Tanner Glass and Kyle Wellwood proved that big kids could have fun too on Friday as they were the special guests at the First Strides Initiation Program. The Canuck players took to the ice with seventy-four novice and initiation level BC minor hockey players at GM Place to participate in the 3rd Canucks Centre First Strides Initiation program this season. The night was a hit as participates took part in on and off-ice workshops and were able to meet new friends through this memorable experience. The event was host to males and females players from across the lower mainland and Vancouver Island.
The night started at 4:30pm as excited participants made their way through registration and said goodbye to their parents. They were separated into Group A and Group B of which alternated between on and off-ice workshops. Eagerly awaiting parents armed with cameras and younger siblings lined the glass and stands as Group A made their way onto the ice for the first on-ice session. BC Hockey Course Conductors and Local Minor Hockey Coaches were quick to get the participants skating in warm up drills before they separated into smaller stations. The real excitement began when Canuck players Tanner Glass and Kyle Wellwood were introduced to the group. The players outlined their own paths to the NHL and gave words of wisdom to inspiring future NHL Stars. The players then joined the participants in the drills and stations. Fin was also on hand to perform his usual whale antics and entertain the crowd and participants.
Group B participants started the night with their off-ice workshop. The 45-minute workshop supported the development of teamwork, sportsmanship and the importance of a positive attitude. Alternating BC Hockey Course Conductors and Local Minor Hockey Coaches ran the sessions. A parent seminar for Group B parents was run alongside the off ice workshop. BC Hockey Health and Safety Risk Manager Anne Deitch ran the sessions where parents were able to work on their communication, fair play and techniques used to give their child positive feedback and support as they participate in minor hockey. Group B was then ready for their turn on the ice. Enthusiastic participants flooded onto the ice for their 75-minute ice time. Tanner Glass and Fin seemed to be tired from the previous session as they used birthday girl Katherine’s ponytail as a rope to be pulled around by. Glass let his inner child out as he challenged the youngsters to races and shooting contests. The kids fed off his energy, as he turned into an instant favorite. Wellwood played the role of instructor as he taught the proper technique of the backhand to a group of participants who listened carefully.
Participants were all smiles as they rejoined their parents to head home. For some kids they took home new skills, others friends and for all an experience that will certainly last a lifetime.
The First Strides Initiation program is open to all Initiation and Novice level registered BC Hockey players. The program is designed to facilitate the growth and development of minor hockey players through on and off ice workshops and provide them with a positive learning environment. For more information on this and other programs offered by the Canucks Centre please call 604 899-7770 or email Canucks.Centre@Canucks.com.Story by Leah Peden, Canucks Centre Student Associate