The Buffalo Sabres today announced that registration is now open for the team's Learn to Play program.
"With the Learn to Play program, we hope to provide easier access to the game we love for kids and families who want to try hockey for the first time," said Kevyn Adams, Sabers senior vice president of business administration. "We aim to provide a fun and welcoming environment for the Sabres fans of tomorrow."
Participants can register for the program at Sabres.com/LearnToPlay.
Sabres alumnus Patrick Kaleta will continue in his fourth year as lead alumnus and will work alongside fellow alumni Cody McCormick and Tim Kennedy for all sessions. Stephen Gionta will also join the group for sessions located in Rochester. As a Buffalo native, Kaleta has worked with numerous local charity organizations throughout his career to help benefit families in Western New York.
"The growth of the Learn to Play program continues to exceed my expectations," Kaleta said. "Over the first three years, our program has graduated more than 1,800 youth players, a number we only expect to grow. Our whole staff is looking forward to kicking off year four and meeting all of our new participants."
All Buffalo Sabres Learn to Play participants will receive new custom-fitted equipment from CCM. Equipment kits will include a helmet, stick, equipment bag, jersey, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, pants, shin pads, socks and skates.
Video: Kaleta talks about Learn To Play
Introduced in 2016, Learn to Play enhances the way youth hockey is offered by providing first-time participants from ages four to nine with free head-to-toe equipment, age-appropriate instruction and certified coaching led by NHL alumni in a fun and safe atmosphere.
The program has expanded to include a total of 13 rinks in Western New York this season, including the addition of Tonawanda and a possible second Rochester location, with lessons taught by Sabres alumni, USA Hockey certified instructors and professional women's hockey players.
NHL alumni work with all NHL teams to make sure a consistent message of on-ice programming and messaging to coaches and parents is distributed across all markets. The program also works with USA Hockey to display the benefits of the American Development Model.
Developed with the help of experts from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, the NHL/NHLPA Learn to Play initiative aims to be the gold standard for youth hockey programs with the goal of inspiring more families to join the hockey community.
For questions or additional information, interested participants can contact Ed Grudzinski at ed.grudzinski@Sabres.com.