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Keith Ballard Joins Wild Front Office To Lead Little Wild Learn-To-Play Program

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild along with the NHL and NHLPA and partners Minnesota Hockey, CCM, Total Hockey and Hy-Vee announced today that former Wild defenseman Keith Ballard will join the organization as Learn to Play Local Manager to lead the Little Wild Learn-to-Play Program. Ballard assumes his new role just ahead of the 2016 Little Wild season that begins on Sept. 6 with 960 registered skaters.

“We are thrilled to have Keith on board to shepherd the Little Wild Learn-to-Play Program,” said Minnesota Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka. “On and off the ice, Keith has demonstrated incredible character and passion for the game at all levels. We couldn’t think of anyone better to lead the Little Wild program as it continues to grow and expand statewide.”

Little Wild participating communities have doubled in the third year of the youth hockey initiative. Six new locations were added for 2016 bringing the total this year to 16 participating communities across the State of Hockey. Registration for each community sold out weeks ago. Last year, with help from programs such as Little Wild, Minnesota Hockey surpassed its previous 8U record by registering a monumental 17,656 players.

“I am excited to help the Minnesota Wild continue to grow The Little Wild Learn-to-Play Program and provide as many children as possible the opportunity to have fun learning the great sport of hockey,” said Ballard.

The Little Wild Program, presented by Hy-Vee, is designed to introduce the game of ice hockey at the beginner level by offering a low-cost, low-commitment opportunity in an effort to increase participation in youth hockey and grow the game. The NHL and NHLPA fund the program and provide equipment for participants. Each participant is outfitted with gear from head-to-toe and receives four hours of professional on-ice instruction for $100. The program also promotes the importance of regular exercise, teamwork, and developing leadership skills while having fun experiencing the game of hockey.

Ballard is scheduled to attend the following Little Wild Learn-To-Play Program sessions: Bemidji (Sept. 18), Bloomington (Sept. 28), Coon Rapids (Sept. 7), Duluth (Oct. 2), Forest Lake (Sept. 12), Lakeville (Sept. 6), Minneapolis (TBD), Moorhead (Sept. 27), Plymouth (Sept. 14), Prior Lake (Sept. 21), Rochester (Sept. 22), Rosemount (Sept. 20), St. Cloud (Sept. 8) and White Bear Lake (Sept. 29). A Minnesota Wild player is scheduled to attend a Little Wild Learn-To-Play Program session in Eden Prairie and Woodbury.

Registration for the 2017 Little Wild Learn-to-Play Program will be announced in the spring of next year. For more information on the Little Wild Program, visit The 2016 Little Wild schedule is below:

2016 Little Wild Learn to Play Locations and Times

Location (Rink) Day Dates Time
Bemidji (Bemidji Community Arena) Sun 9/11, 9/18, 9/25, 10/2 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Bloomington (Bloomington Ice Garden) Wed 9/7, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28 6:15-7:15 p.m.
Coon Rapids (Coon Rapids Ice Center) Wed 9/7, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Duluth (Heritage Sports Center) Sun 9/11, 9/18, 9/25, 10/2 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Eden Prairie (Eden Prairie Community Center)* Wed 9/7, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28 6:15-7:15 p.m.
Forest Lake (Forest Lake Sports Center)* Mon 9/12, 9/19, 9/26, 10/3 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Lakeville (Ames Arena) Tue 9/6, 9/13, 9/20, 9/27 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Minneapolis (Parade Ice Garden)* Sun 9/11, 9/18, 9/25, 10/2 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Moorhead (Moorhead Ice Arena)* Tue 9/6, 9/13, 9/20, 9/27 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Plymouth (Plymouth Ice Center) Wed 9/7, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Rochester (Graham Arena) Thu 9/8, 9/15, 9/22, 9/29 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Rosemount (Rosemount Community Center)* Tue 9/6, 9/13, 9/20, 9/27 6:15-7:15 p.m.
St. Cloud (Municipal Athletic Complex) Thu 9/8, 9/15, 9/22, 9/29 5:45-6:45 p.m.
White Bear Lake (Vadnais Sports Center)* Thu 9/8, 9/15, 9/22, 9/29 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Woodbury (Bielenberg Sports Center) Wed 9/7, 9/14, 9/21, 9/28 6:00-7:00 p.m.
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