Saturday (Nov. 12) was a great day for hockey in America as 13,582 children were introduced to the sport for the first time through USA Hockey's Try Hockey For Free Day. The skating scene played out in a record-setting 493 host arenas nationwide as part of the sixth annual Come Play Hockey Month.
Try Hockey events were held in 47 states, with equipment provided for children to borrow free of charge. Thousands of USA Hockey-certified coaches provided instruction and encouragement.
NHL clubs supported local rinks by promoting Try Hockey For Free Day, visiting participants at THFF locations and organizing their own events. Among them, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders hosted THFF at seven locations, drawing nearly 900 participants and contributing to the Empire State's total of 1,119 THFF participants. Only Wisconsin (1,663 participants) drew more participants than New York. Wisconsin also led the nation in THFF host sites with 63.
"It's great to see all the smiling faces as children learn new skills and their parents watch them experience something they can enjoy for a lifetime," said Pat Kelleher, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of development. "Volunteers nationwide deserve a ton of credit. Their energy and passion made it a great introduction to the sport and a memorable day for the participants and their parents. We're also grateful for the support from the NHL and its member clubs."
Among the many highlights, the following USA Hockey associations set record participation totals for THFF on Nov. 12: Chelmsford Hockey Association (Massachusetts), Amherst Hockey Association (Massachusetts), Kentucky Amateur Hockey Association, Janesville Youth Hockey Club (Wisconsin), Flathead Youth Hockey Association (Montana) and the Rushmore Hockey Association (South Dakota).
USA Hockey, which conducts two national Try Hockey For Free Days each season, will conduct its second Try Hockey Day of the 2016-17 campaign Feb. 25, 2017, as part of Hockey Week Across America. Interested rinks and youth hockey associations can visit USAHockeyProgramServices.com to register as a host site.
USA Hockey's Try Hockey For Free Days are designed to provide a national platform for introducing children to the sport, free of charge. Total Hockey and Liberty Mutual Insurance are official sponsors of Try Hockey For Free Day.
NOTES: Now in their seventh season, USA Hockey's national Try Hockey For Free Days have introduced nearly 130,000 children to the sport ... Try Hockey For Free Day in November is part of Come Play Hockey Month, a component of the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone™ (HIFE) program, which provides children of all backgrounds the opportunity to play hockey ... Join the conversation and post photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #TryHockey