Hockey and soccer; the similarities, if you take a quick glance, are striking.
Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen, along with players Jason Demers , Clayton Keller , Vinnie Hinostroza and a handful of team staff were on location at Casino Arizona Field Saturday night to see that first-hand.
The Phoenix Rising, donning specialty Kachina-themed warm-up kits for their "Winter in June" match, brought the Coyotes' primary ambition into fruition, and in style, as the local professional sports organizations once again came together for a night of fun, connectivity, and cross-promotion.
"I have a ton of respect for the Phoenix Rising, their entire organization and everything they're doing to grow fandom, to build up soccer in this Phoenix marketplace, and I think that we share a lot of the same strategies and the same goals in terms of building new fans," Cohen said.
Just like a typical game night at Gila River Arena, it's all about the experience, an experience that Cohen and the Coyotes' executive team are constantly looking to build upon by learning from their neighborhood peers.
"They've been incredibly supportive to us and our brand, and it was just a fun way to cross-promote each other, get out there and see what they're all about," Cohen added. "And of course to see the game - which was an amazing experience, they do so many great things, I can't say enough."
Rising Vice President Sam Doerr, known to be an avid supporter of the Coyotes and hockey in the desert, was equally impressed, and considers many of the strategies the organizations team-up to accomplish as "no-brainers".
"I thought it was terrific," Doerr said without hesitation. "I'd like to thank Ahron [Cohen] and the whole organization for embracing us and bringing the players to the game. I think the biggest thing is, you have two clubs that are trending in the right direction, two exciting teams in the marketplace that I think have a lot of cross-overs in fan base, two teams that I think are willing to challenge the norm a little bit on the ice and on the field, and off the ice and off the field."
Some of that sport cross-over was put to the test when all three Coyotes players were given an opportunity to showcase their penalty kick skills.
Some had it.
"[Clayton] Keller drilled the cross-bar and had his other two go just high, Jason [Demers] tried to get a little too cute," Doerr said of the Coyotes' kicking skills. "Vinnie [Hinostroza] was good, those were clinical PK's and they're not as easy as they look, those guys did themselves proud."
With free agency looming, the Coyotes should feel fortunate that Hinostroza, a newly proclaimed soccer star after hitting all three of his penalty kick shots, is safely under contract. There have been some rumors floating around, though.
"We had a great time at the game, it was a fun crowd and a fantastic environment, the shootout was a blast too," Hinostroza said. "I think it's great that the Coyotes and Rising support each other, it's nice to see that here in the Valley with all of the teams."
As for the Rising's Kachina warm-up kits? Nailed it.
"I think the Kachina design is if not the best, it's definitely a top-five sweater in the entire NHL," Doerr said of the specialty uniforms. "Our guys certainly embraced it, and it was so popular amongst our players that this is the one they all wanted to keep. We usually collect them back, we'll do an auction or we'll give them to season ticket members or partners, but for these jerseys we actually let the players keep because they liked them so much."
The Kachina's resurgence spoke for itself last season when the Coyotes re-introduced the original design as the team's new official third jersey, which will again be worn for all Saturday home games this coming season.
"The more Kachina the better," Cohen said with a thrill. "You can never have too much Kachina throughout the entire marketplace. It looked great on those guys and I heard a lot of their players talking about how much they liked the look, so we'll have to get them into some Coyotes hockey gear when they come out to our games this season."
That would, of course, only indicate the expected continuity of cross-promotion between the clubs. Don't be surprised to see a few Rising players and front office staff donning their own custom Coyotes jerseys at a game come October.
That, after all, is what it's all about.
"We've adopted a hyper-local approach and it's incredibly important for us to reach out and create alliances with strong local brands that are similarly making Arizona a great place to live, and the Phoenix Rising certainly fit into that category," Cohen said. "Anytime we get an opportunity to partner with them we love it, and we're excited to keep that going."