The Canadian Tire First Shift hockey program is back at Fuller Lake Arena for the second time.
The program is designed for kids between the ages of six and 10 who, for one reason or another, haven’t had the opportunity to play hockey yet. It helps kids fall in love with the game before buying all the gear.
The six learn-to-play sessions focus on having fun and understanding the basics. Registration is $199 per player, but includes head to toe gear from Bauer that the kids keep.
The Municipality of North Cowichan and minor hockey formed a partnership to get it going last year, applying through Bauer Hockey.
“We helped them run it,” noted Graham Cousins, recreational programmer for North Cowichan.
The program was full last year with 30 kids taking advantage of the opportunity.
The program gets going again Oct. 2 with a welcome event where all kids get fitted with their gear. The ice time begins Oct. 21 and runs once a week until Nov. 25.
“After that, they can sign up for minor hockey at a reduced rate,” noted Cousins.
At that point, the 2017-18 season is already well underway, but “they find room for them on the teams,” Cousins pointed out for those who are interested in continuing.
There’s also an opportunity for kids to go into transition ice times, if they so desire.
Of last year’s 30 kids at Fuller Lake, 20 of them continued on by signing up for minor hockey.
At the end of last year’s sessions, the group received a nice perk by splitting into two squads to play during the intermission of a Victoria Royals Western Hockey League game.
More information is available at www.firstshift.ca and that’s where all the registration details can be found as well. Applications must be filled out on line.
Nine volunteer coaches ran the Fuller Lake sessions last year and “I think I’ve got seven committed again,” said Cousins.
It’s also co-ed so girls are welcome, too.
Literature for the Canadian Tire First Shift program spells out the advantages.
“We want families to experience the game at its best – to understand why so many Canadians feel an inherent love for the sport – and to stimulate a desire for continued participation.
“We want to take away any intimidation as it relates to equipment requirements, and/or rules of the game, remove potential safety concerns and, most importantly, provide an experience that is memorable and fun.”