New Program For New Hockey Players

Early Specialization In Sport

Young players new to hockey will be given a chance to try the sport through “The First Shift” – Photo by Kelsey Vermeersch /

Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada announced this week that they will be offering The First Shift, a new type of learn-to-play hockey program this fall, designed to introduce kids and families to the game in a fun, convenient and practical way. The First Shift will be available in 30 markets this fall across Canada, including Chatham-Kent and is part of Bauer Hockey’s global Grow the Game initiative to add one million new families to the game by 2022.

“We’re excited to bring The First Shift to Chatham-Kent and expand it across Canada because we’ve found it’s a proven model to welcome and attract families to our great game,” said Mary-Kay Messier, who leads the program for Bauer Hockey as director of brand initiatives. “As someone who has seen all of the positives that hockey has to offer, and as a mother of four children, I’m excited that parents and kids who have never played the game feel welcomed and have fun when participating in these events, which are key to our success.”

Families and children interested can go to for more information and to sign up for a program through the “Get Started” tab on the website. The First Shift is a six-week program for kids ages 6–10 who have never played hockey. The cost is $199, which includes equipment and enrollment. In partnership with Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada, the Kent Minor Hockey Association will be hosting a welcome event on Oct. 9, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at 511 Indian Creek Road, Chatham, for families and kids who have signed up. At the welcome event, participants will receive their gear, learn how to put it on and find out more about the program’s on-ice goals.

In partnership with local minor hockey associations, which provide resources and execution support, Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada are changing the way the game is introduced to new families. The current program offerings across Canada successfully meet the needs of elite and competitive hockey players and will continue, while The First Shift will offer entry-level players an easy way to try the game. It will provide families new to the sport with an offering that is fun, educational and convenient, including a practical commitment level to ensure a child’s interest. Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada are expanding the initiative in several phases, with programs starting this fall in 30 communities.

“It is so exciting to work with Bauer Hockey to take The First Shift across Canada and introduce the game to even more Canadians,” said Tom Renney, president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada. “Hockey Canada has committed itself to making hockey accessible to as many Canadians as possible, and with the tremendous support of Bauer Hockey, this program is a big step in the right direction. Hockey truly is Canada’s game, and the more Canadians that get an opportunity to lace up their skates, the better.”

Over the last two years, Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada conducted research with non-hockey families and tested the design of these programs before this expansion. Participant surveys following the initial programs validated the model as successfully breaking down barriers to entry. In the surveys, 100 per cent of parents said they would recommend the program to a friend, 100 per cent of respondents said their children had fun and nearly 80 per cent went on to sign up with their local minor hockey association.

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