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5 Reasons To Try Hockey For Free This Weekend

Children ages 4-9 are welcome at the Las Vegas Ice Center to try hockey, free of charge, on Saturday

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

It's part of the hockey package.

When an NHL team arrives in a city, it often means much more than….an NHL team arriving in a city.

For Las Vegas, which has never had a major league sports franchise, the Golden Knights' arrival delivers the community with an identity outside of The Strip.

Local businesses will experience a boom as T-Mobile Arena hosts 41 Golden Knights home games per season. And families in this city will their first opportunity to bond by uniting behind a hometown team.

Another part of the hockey package, different than any other sport, is how the arrival of an NHL team will impact grassroots participation in the sport.

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Where sports like baseball and basketball are often more ingrained in the culture local communities, far beyond the presence of professional teams, participation in hockey is very often linked to the presence of an NHL team.

After all, where other sports can be played in any available open field with minimal equipment, hockey requires both equipment and ice time.

 

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And neither of these are cheap.

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Sometimes, it's difficult for parents to make a financial commitment of this level for their children on a sport that they aren't sure that their son or daughter will enjoy.

That's where this weekend comes in.

Sponsored by USA Hockey, the Las Vegas Ice Center will be hosting "Try Hockey For Free Day" this Saturday, February 25.

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At this event, children ages 4-9 will be able to skate in full equipment and play hockey under full adult supervision, completely free of charge.

Here are five other things to know about "Try Hockey For Free Day." 

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1. The event will be held at the Las Vegas Ice Center from 3:30-5:45 PM on Saturday, February 25.
The address of the venue is: 9295 W. Flamingo Road Suite 130, Las Vegas, NV 89147.
Just note that participation is limited to children from ages 4-9.

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2. The event is entirely free of charge

All parents have to do is bring their kids. Equipment, ice time and instruction will be provided at no cost.

"For kids between the ages of four and nine, it's a completely free event," USA Hockey Director, Membership Development Kevin Erlenbach said. "Equipment is available for them to borrow. We eliminate any cost or commitment barrier. It's a chance to for them to try hockey with none of that."

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3. No experience is required

This includes both parents and children.

For parents, there is instruction provided for how to put your child's equipment on correctly.

For children, there's no certain skill level required. The expectation is that almost everyone participating may be playing ice hockey for the first time.

With everyone in the same boat, there is no fear of your child being behind their peers.

Not to mention, the coaches running the sessions aren't just certified coaches; they specialize in working with children who are skating for the first time.

Their methods are based around a system where kids are constantly moving, with as little "idle time" as possible.

"We maximize the amount of time a kid gets to have fun," Erlenbach said. "It's the American development model. It's meant to maximize their athletic potential.

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"A lot of sports now, kids end up waiting and watching, or waiting in line. We have stations set up, we'll have constant moving. Everything's age appropriate. We just want to make sure kids maximize their hour to build skills. You'll see a lot of sweaty heads and smiles.

"I think that's the difference when people try it out. All of a sudden their kid comes off smiling, having done something they couldn't do at home. Not picking dandelions on a field. They're happy, sweaty and loving it."

 

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4. Kids Will Be Taught All Hockey Skills

"We try to get them moving station to station, so they can try everything," Erlenbach said. "A little skating work, some stickhandling. Shooting a little bit and passing. They'll play their first cross-ice hockey game. They get a little of a taste of everything.

"It's to make sure they keep moving and don't wait in lines."

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5. It's Safe

With full equipment provided and ice activity being carefully monitored by instructors, conditions are as safe as they'll ever be on a hockey rink.

"Some people think that equipment is a hindrance," Erlenbach said. "The great part of the equipment is that it makes our sport one of the safest sports out there. I don't think people totally realize that. That equipment is here to make sure kids have a safe, fun experience.

"But we do have people to help parents go through the process of putting everything on. In the early days, when you'd go, you'd see everything. Elbow pads backwards. They won't experience that here. The equipment can be intimidating if you've never been in hockey before. We make sure there's no shortage of instructors, both on the ice and for helping with equipment."

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