EL MIRAGE - The Coyotes unveiled another DEK hockey rink on Wednesday afternoon as part of the team's ongoing efforts to popularize the sport in Arizona.
"We're interested in growing the game of hockey," Coyotes President and CEO Steve Patterson said from the rink, which was constructed outside of the Northwest Valley Family YMCA in El Mirage. "Some kids can't get out on the ice because we don't have ice rinks everywhere, but these kind of DEK hockey rinks can be used for kids to learn the great game of hockey playing with a ball and a stick."
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Coyotes forward Christian Fischer attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the rink, and then played hockey with dozens of children inside the rink on its first day of operation.
"Hockey is really evolving out here and this rink speaks volumes for it," said Fischer, who said he learned to play ice hockey by first playing street hockey.
The Coyotes, working in conjunction with the NHL and the NHLPA, launched an initiative earlier this year to build several new DEK hockey rinks around the Valley and state.
"We opened up one of these rinks at Luke Air Force Base in April and we're looking forward to doing more of these and growing the game of hockey," Patterson said. "Hopefully one of these kids will grow up and one day become another No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft from Arizona."
Auston Matthews, who grew up playing in hockey in Scottsdale, was the first pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. He has credited the Coyotes for first getting him interested in the sport.
"We're thrilled to unveil another new DEK hockey rink in the Valley," Coyotes Owner Andrew Barroway said. "The Coyotes are committed to the Valley and to growing the great game of hockey in our state. We are excited to partner with our great friends at the YMCA and the City of El Mirage and hope that the kids enjoy playing DEK hockey on this great rink throughout their lives."
El Mirage is 10 miles northwest of Gila River Arena in Glendale. Its population is approximately 35,000 residents.