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Hundreds Gather To Try Hockey For Free In Vegas

The Golden Knights and USA Hockey combined to host first-time hockey players at the Las Vegas Ice Center

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights /

Saturday was a busy day in the National Hockey League.

Eight games, 16 teams and action highlighted by an outdoor game in Pittsburgh and a 8-0 Blue Jackets romp in Columbus.

The Golden Knights, six months prior to the team's first season in the league, weren't part of this action, of course.

But while Vegas wasn't part of the televised NHL schedule, the city enjoyed a full day of action at the Las Vegas Ice Center. Where even though the Golden Knights aren't yet part of the league from an on-ice standpoint, the team participated in important initiative "Try Hockey For Free Day."

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With this undertaking, the Golden Knights and USA Hockey teamed to host approximately 200 children ages 4-9, supplied them with equipment and offered them two hours of free ice time at the Las Vegas Ice Center on Saturday afternoon.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: What excitement there is in Vegas to try hockey for free this afternoon. The line to the rink is around the corner. #BoldInGold


"Every event that's held, every time hockey is out in the community, it seems to blow every expectation away," Hockey Operations Assistant and on-ice instructor Keith Veronesi said. "People are real fantastic. It's been a real privilege to be part of this whole thing.

"You know, the fans and the community just continue to support everything. And you see kids at such a young age that have never been on the ice before so enthusiastic, so excited. I think it's just only going to get better from here."

Veronesi, 26, was an established college hockey player before joining the Golden Knights who cited Saturday's event as reminiscent of his formative years on the ice in South Windsor, CT.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: A lot of smiling faces, sweaty heads and first-time hockey players in Vegas today���� #BoldInGold


Kevin Erlenbach, USA Hockey's Director, Membership Development was also on hand for Saturday's event.

A veteran of several similar initiatives that have been held in rinks in different cities and states throughout the country, Erlenbach said that what stood out to him the most about Saturday was the amount of kids who showed up to play.

Where "Try Hockey For Free" generally attracts 30-40 kids per session in other cities, the Las Vegas Ice Center put several times that number on the ice for the first time.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Always special to see a young hockey player take their first steps on the ice. #BoldInGold


"These are really huge numbers," Erlenbach said. "It just shows how excited and hungry people are for ice hockey, to not only watch the team, but play it and be a part of it. It's definitely a hockey community ready to blow up.

"As someone who loves hockey, to see all these kids with smiles on their faces. But not just the kids, but to watch the parents snap the pictures. The fact that everyone's having fun and enjoying themselves, it's huge."


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: It doesn't get any better than this. #BoldInGold

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