Saturday (Nov. 4) was a great day for hockey in America as 11,376 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 451 host arenas nationwide as part of the seventh 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.
United States-based NHL clubs supported local rinks by promoting Try Hockey For Free Day, visiting participants at THFF locations and organizing their own events. For the second straight year, the New York Rangers welcomed the most participants to the ice: 334. The Dallas Stars (174) and Vegas Golden Knights (156) rounded out the Top 3 among NHL teams hosting THFF events.
On a state-by-state basis, Wisconsin once again ranked No. 1, welcoming 1,605 participants. The Badger State was led by the Oshkosh Youth Hockey Association, which put 106 participants on the ice as part of its THFF event.
The honors for largest single-site turnout went to the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Hockey Association and the Kansas City (Mo.) Youth Hockey Association, which tied for the top spot with 165 participants each.
"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, executive director of USA Hockey. "Volunteers nationwide deserve a ton of credit. Their energy and passion make it a memorable day for the participants and their parents. We're also grateful for the support from the NHL and its member clubs."
USA Hockey, which conducts two national Try Hockey For Free Days each season, will conduct its second event Saturday, March 3, 2018, the weekend following the XXIII Olympic Winter Games closing ceremony, as part of Hockey Weekend 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. Pure Hockey and Liberty Mutual Insurance are official sponsors of Try Hockey For Free Day.
NOTE: Now in their eighth season, USA Hockey's national Try Hockey For Free Days have introduced more than 153,000 children to the sport.