“There is no better way to pass along the love of hockey to others than by passing along your used gear,” said Doug Johnson, publisher of Let’s Play Hockey
The Minnesota Wild, Let’s Play Hockey and Minnesota Hockey have teamed up and are amidst the fourth annual Used Hockey Equipment Drive. Drop-off boxes are scattered throughout the Twin Cities at select arenas and hockey shops and will continue collecting donations of used hockey gear until Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Fans attending the Houston Aeros training camp open scrimmages on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30 at Xcel Energy Center have the opportunity to donate, as well. Fans that bring used gear to donate during the games will be entered to win autographed Aeros merchandise. Five prizes will be awarded during each scrimmage. Saturday’s scrimmage starts at 11 a.m., while Sunday’s match starts at 10 a.m. Spectators can enter through Gate One a half hour before the start times.
The drive will culminate in a public distribution from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Xcel Energy Center.
“The response has been excellent,” Johnson said. “Several of the area boxes have been filled and had to be emptied and replaced, but we are still accepting donations.”
The amount of gear donated and given away helps keep youngsters in the game, but also helps kick start budding hockey players.
“It’s very important for us to put on this event because there is a segment of the population whom might not have the resources to get their children into hockey or keep their children in hockey,” Johnson said. “We want to give them the opportunity to play this great sport.”
Many local associations often have gear giveaways, but the amount of donations, drop-off locations and re-used gear makes this effort the largest in the State of Hockey. And families that get the opportunity to give the second-hand gear a home relish the chance.
“When people pick up the gear, they are so appreciative that this equipment is free,” Johnson said. “Often times they can’t believe that we’re giving it away, but it’s an opportunity to grow the sport in the State of Hockey.”
The drive is accepting all types of used equipment, but one gear for one position is especially precious.
“Goaltending gear is really in need because it includes some of the most expensive items, so we’re always looking for goalie blockers, gloves, leg pads and chest protectors,” Johnson noted.
Skates and helmets also are two items that are in high demand for the drive. Johnson advises that children being outfitted for gear accompany their parents, so that they can be properly fitted in the equipment.
Johnson added anyone attending the drive should bring along a hockey bag for the used equipment if they have one available. Hockey bags will be available at the distribution, but in limited numbers. Otherwise, large plastic bags will be given away to help carry equipment.
Berger Transfer is disseminating and collecting the boxes at: Apple Valley Sports Arena, Bielenberg Sports Center (Woodbury), Bloomington Ice Garden, Braemar Arena (Edina), Burnsville Ice Center, Delano Sports Arena, Drake Arena (St. Paul), Eagan Civic Arena, Eden Prairie Community Center, Hastings Civic Arena, Maple Grove Community Center, New Hope Ice Arena, Pagel Activity Center (Minnetonka), Plymouth Ice Center, Polar Arena (North St. Paul), Rogers Activity Center, Schwan Super Rink (Blaine), St. Croix Valley Recreation Center (Stillwater), St. Thomas Ice Arena (Mendota Heights), Tartan Arena (Oakdale) and White Bear Lake Sports Center.
Boehm’s in St. Paul and Westwood Sports in Apple Valley and Bloomington will have drop-off locations. Gear also can be donated at all four Total Hockey locations: Burnsville, Edina, Minnetonka and Maplewood.