Behind every great hockey player are great hockey parents, and on Saturday, more 800 kids got to play hockey for the first time in front of their soon-to-be hockey parents at the second Vegas Golden Knights Sticks for Kids clinic at Desert Breeze Park.
The second of three clinics taught kids ages 5 to 15 the fundamentals of street hockey, as well as the values of the game. All participants received a free street hockey stick and ball.
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Parents can sign their kids up for the third clinic on June 3rd at Anthem Hills park here.
As the kids learned the basics of hockey and fell in love with the game, their parents looked on from the sidelines. Mark Rivas, whose son David, 11, played hockey for the first time on Saturday, was thrilled to see so many kids come out and give the game a try.
"I love that they are bringing this to the community to learn how to play hockey and the game of hockey and to meet other kids who are interested in hockey," Rivas said.
One aspect of hockey that Rob Knesaurek, the NHL's Vice President of Learn to Play and Growth Initiatives and clinic leader, wanted to stress was the values it teaches. Respect, camaraderie and teamwork are just a few of the life values hockey can teach.
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Parents like Matt Margolis, whose kids also play baseball and soccer, understand the importance of those values in hockey, and in life.
"We teach our kids respect, respect for your teammates, respect for yourself and respect for the game, so I think the values of hockey and any sport they play are important for them to learn," he said. "It's not just about winning, but it's also about how you play the game."
With the Golden Knights set to the hit the ice in the fall, getting kids into the game of hockey now could make them fans for life when the professionals start playing at T-Mobile Arena.
Anna Bezino is excited for her son, Ashton Godwin, 8, to grow up a hockey fan, and a Golden Knights fan.
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"I think it's going to be awesome for him to watch it grow and start from the beginning, basically," she said.
As the excitement builds, Ashton Godwin might make a few hockey fans out of his friends.
"He's going to probably tell all of his friends so they come out to the next clinic so they can all get sticks and balls too," Bezino said.