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Hockey kids hit Saddledome

by Peter Zuurbier / Calgary Flames
A group of lucky local hockey players got an up-close look into what goes on behind the scenes with their favourite team Wednesday, as the Flames EvenStrenth Program's Hockey Camp invaded the 'Dome on a field trip.

Darryl Sutter signs aurographs for participants in the 2009 Flames EvenStrength Hockey Camp.

The 30 kids from across Calgary, ranging in age from 7-11, enjoyed an afternoon full of fun and surprises as a gift from the Flames.

"These kids represent our fan base, but they are also part of our family. We want the kids to come and say hello because they are a part of us. Because they participate in this program we run, they are a part of our family, and we want them to know that," said Natasha Guillot, Executive Director of the Flames Foundation for Life.

"These kids are recipients of funding throughout the year from the Flames' Evenstrength program, and as a thank you we send them to camp for a week."

The campers spent the day exploring every dark corner of 'Dome, from the dungeon-like basement, to the press box suspended from the roof. They got to go down to the ice surface and the Flames' bench, and finished off the day with an exclusive tour of the Flames' locker room. For lunch the kids dined in the Ed Whalen Media Lounge, and after they ate they received a surprise visit from Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter, who stopped by to not only meet the young athletes, but to scout the group for future prospects.

Unfortunately Sutter couldn't catch a break, as the spirit of the room moved the group, who began peppering the Flames GM upon first sight.

"Hey, why did you stop coaching the Flames?" called out one.

"I'm too old to Coach, I'm almost a hundred years old you know."

Along with Kidsport Calgary and Hockey Calgary, the Flames EvenStrength program has helped over 1,600 Calgary Kids play hockey since 2000, offsetting the high registration costs that prevent many local kids from participating. This was the second annual Flames EvenStrength Hockey Camp. A total of 30 kids, all recipients of funding through FEP, participated in the week-long hockey development camp which is administered by Hockey Calgary.

"Kids apply for funding throughout the year to help with Hockey registration costs, and at the end of the year we send an invitation to all of the kids. Whoever wants to participate in the camp is more then welcome to," said Guillot.

"In the camp we try to mix the practice and discipline needed for success in hockey along with some extra-curricular activities like field trips."

For more information on the Flames EvenStrength Program, please visit or call (403) 245-5773.

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