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A legend lends a hand with The First Shift

Hockey Canada and Bauer Hockey surprised lucky young players and their parents with an unexpected visit from Mark Messier to help introduce them to hockey

David Brien
|
February 29, 2016

Twenty-five NHL seasons. 1,756 games played (second all-time). 694 goals (eighth all-time). 1,193 assists (third all-time). 1,887 points (second all-time). Six Stanley Cup championships. Three Canada Cup championships. One Hart Memorial Trophy.

There are few names in Canadian hockey more recognizable than Mark Messier, so who better to bring new players into the game through The First Shift program, a Hockey Canada and Bauer Hockey initiative.

Early on the morning of Feb. 13, Messier joined young players and their parents at the Pavillon de la jeunesse to celebrate the program’s first-ever stop in Quebec City, Que.

While the parents were already amazed at seeing their kids taking their first strides on skates, they were left in awe when Messier hopped onto the ice to join the new players.

Although Messier’s presence was a surprise, it certainly was no accident. He and his sister Mary-Kay, the director of brand initiatives with Bauer Hockey, have been working hard for a number of years to help promote hockey across the country.

“When we found out that there were a number of things that were inhibiting new families from hockey and kids from playing, we set out to form a program,” says the 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee.

“A program that would make it fun for the kids, affordable, and that would get them some coaching, some ice time and bring them into an environment that’s real friendly to teach them about hockey on and off the ice.”

That’s exactly what The First Shift is all about. It’s about getting kids who’ve never experienced hockey a taste of the action, and making sure they are supported through the process.

For new hockey mom Vanessa Mercier, a chance to get both her boys into hockey was too good to pass up.

“My sons Nathan and Jérémy are six and eight years old and this is their first experience in hockey,” she says. “They love going out to the rink in our small village and they wanted to learn a little bit more.

“We wanted them to have fun and to learn about some new techniques, so when we saw the ad for The First Shift, we signed them up. We’ve been very well guided through it all.”

While The First Shift is where kids are learning the fundamentals of hockey on the ice, it is also the beginning of a life-long process that will teach them life skills away from the rink.

The game of hockey can instill on its players an endless amount of life lessons that can carry out through an entire life. Following a 25-year professional career, Messier is living proof.

Aside from his participation in The First Shift, Messier was in Quebec City to coach his 12-year-old son Douglas, who helped the New York Americans reach the quarter-finals of the Tournoi international de hockey pee-wee de Québec.

With that coaching position and his involvement with Bauer and other development programs, Messier takes minor hockey very seriously and has made it a personal mandate to grow the game at the grassroots.

“I love teaching the kids, watching them develop and see their own passion for the game of hockey,” he says with a grin. “It’s about igniting a passion for hockey that some of them didn’t even know they had.

“The game itself is a teacher. You get life lessons that’ll be with you forever: learning how to play on a team, the discipline, the commitment it takes, the responsibility, having compassion, tolerance, and patience. For the kids to get started at this age, it’s great. It’s so important that they not only learn how to play the game of hockey, but also to learn how to be good teammates and a good person.”

Words of wisdom from a hockey legend that knows a thing or two about lending an assist.

And with arguably the greatest leader in hockey history taking a leading role in the growth of the game, it’s safe to say that the future of Canadian hockey is in good hands.

First Shift player giving a high five

Inspiring the next generation through First Shift

Central York Girls Hockey Association players assisting with the NHL/NHLPA program are excited to share their passion for hockey with young participants

Shannon Coulter
|
March 18, 2022

When Kennedy Jackson started playing hockey when she was four years old, she was inspired by current players who took time to volunteer with her team.

“I always looked up to older girls that were helping me out on the ice,” she says.

Now 17, Jackson has an opportunity to give back as an NHL/NHLPA First Shift coach for an all-girls program with the Central York Girls HockeyAssociation (CYGHA).

“I just want them to be able to feel the way that I did,” says Jackson, who plays for CYGHA’s U18 A Blue team. “I just want to be able to help other kids love the game of hockey kind of like the way I did growing up.”

The return of the program has been highly anticipated for the Aurora, Ont., association. The CYGHA hosted its first NHL/NHLPA First Shift program during the 2019-20 season, but the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented it from returning until now.

“I’m just really excited because we’ve had this program cancelled for a couple of years,” says Keith Higgins, CYGHA’s on-ice coordinator for the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program. “I had such a good time, so much fun the first time around.”

CYGHA’s all-girls NHL/NHLPA First Shift program begins on March 26 with an equipment try-on session where all participants will be fitted with a full set of new Bauer equipment. Afterwards, the participants have six on-ice sessions to learn the fundamentals of skating and hockey skills.

“It is really cool to see that one kid that on the very first session, all they do is stand there and kind of swivel on one spot. And you get a couple of weeks into it and the kid’s skating the full ice and making some motion and hitting the puck,” Higgins says. “It’s really neat to see the progression, the kids pick it up so quick.”

With the combination of receiving equipment and being on the ice, the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program serves as an accessible and affordable entryway into hockey.

“It’s a great way to recruit new members,” says Katie Williams, vice-president of CYGHA’s women’s division. “The girls have a fabulous time; our volunteers are just terrific. They enjoy it as much as the kids. It’s just a great way to showcase girls’ hockey in our community.”

“I think, in general, we really need to be cognizant about keeping the girls in the game and keeping it accessible and affordable,” says CYGHA president Mark Dubeau. “We’re always having somebody there from our executive [team] to talk to parents while the kids are out on the ice and […] hopefully get them into a position where they love the game and want to continue with it.”

With Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team taking home gold at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the increased visibility of the women’s game on an international stage may also encourage more young girls to lace up the skates and pick up a stick.

“I think that seeing the women win the gold medal this year in the Olympics, you can inspire little girls and little kids to want to play the sport and learn about it,” says Katie Macey, a 16-year-old member of CYGHA’s U18 A Blue team. “Just seeing other women achieve their goals in hockey might inspire other kids to want to do that.”

Team Canada is not the only source of inspiration to get young girls on the ice. Many volunteers for this NHL/NHLPA First Shift program are current CYGHA players from U13 to U18, allowing participants the opportunity to build connections with young role models in their hockey community.

“It means a lot,” says Macey, who will volunteer as a coach during the First Shift. “Being a role model, you set good examples, teach them how to respect, teach them how to work hard, teach them skills—it’s a lot of responsibility.”

Higgins’ daughter, Kaia, was a volunteer with the program during the 2019-20 season. This year, the 12-year-old will be a junior coach and is looking forward to assisting participants during the on-ice sessions.

“It feels really good knowing that [I can be a role model],” she says. “When I was younger, I always wanted to grow up and continue playing hockey and have younger girls look up to me.”

At the end of the day, the volunteers are excited to share their love of the game with the next generation of young players.

“I just wanted to help little kids find passion in hockey, that’s where I feel the most comfortable,” Macey says. “Whenever you step on the ice, it’s always like [you] forget about everything else and I just want to help little girls find that same passion in the sport that I love.”

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NHL/NHLPA First Shift para hockey participant

First Shift sparks interest in para hockey

With an accessible and affordable way to try the sport, the NHL/NHLPA program is helping to introduce young players to para hockey and inspire Paralympic dreams

Shannon Coulter
|
March 03, 2022

With the NHL/NHLPA First Shift successfully offering a low-cost entry into hockey for families new to the sport, Maxime Gagnon saw an opportunity to expand the program by offering para hockey.

Along with Parahockey Montréal, Gagnon helped to run the program’s first para-specific event in 2018.

“When we started the program four years ago, we started with 15 new players. That’s amazing in para hockey,” says Gagnon, who is the CEO of Parahockey Montréal. “Normally, we receive [across] all divisions about 10 players, not more than that. But for only junior, 15 players, that’s amazing.”

Gagnon is currently hosting the third edition of the NHL/NHLPA First Shift para program in Montreal. One new addition this year was the para program and a First Shift for stand-up hockey had its Bauer equipment fittings back-to-back, which helped to drive home the message that every participant is partaking in the same program.

“The inclusion for me is very important,” Gagnon says. “We’re going to do probably one or two practices all together on the ice, the stand-up and the [para] hockey program.”

Along with equipment, participants will have six on-ice sessions to learn the basics of the game and have fun with their peers. Instructors will help to teach and mentor participants, something Paralympic Hockey Team forward Anton Jacobs-Webb found very important when he started playing para hockey.

Jacobs-Webb looked to veteran para hockey players like Hervé Lord and Ben Delaney to help teach him how to stick-handle and have control of his sled when he was starting out.

“That’s the biggest thing for me is having people mentor you and to show you the little tricks and little tips because there’s so many [skills to develop] to get into [para hockey] because there’s such a steep learning curve right at the beginning,” Jacobs-Webb says.

The timing of this season’s program also aligns with the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, which allows the young participants to see the sport on an international stage while they are trying it for themselves at home. Gagnon is planning to work the Paralympics into the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program, including filming a video to send good-luck messages to Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team.

Overall, with the combination of the NHL/NHLPA First Shift para program and the exposure of the sport’s top athletes competing in Beijing, the goal is to help spur the dreams of young athletes in para hockey.

“The more accessible it is, the more people will try it. And just more importantly, know it exists,” says Greg Westlake, a veteran forward on Canada’s Paralympic Hockey Team.

“I heard about this sport at the age of 14 years old. I wish I heard about it when I was five. I think that the efforts that we’re doing right now, through programs like [NHL/NHLPA First Shift], that’s what’s going to make the difference for the next little kid born with a disability that can get out there and get in a sled at five years old and really start that [Paralympic] dream so much earlier.”

Thanks to the NHL/NHLPA First Shift, there is an accessible, affordable, safe and fun way to introduce kids to the sport of para hockey across Canada. Gagnon has already seen the benefits of the para program in terms of the retention and growth of the sport at the grassroots in Montreal.

“Next year, we’re going to have the kids who started four years ago with the [NHL/NHLPA First Shift] and they’re going to be invited to the provincial selection for [para hockey] in Quebec,” Gagnon says. “For us, it’s very important. The wheels are turning. The more kids we have, the more players we’re going to bring to the national team or represent our province.”

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First Shift participants

Sharing the passion

As one of the few Black players in her league, Willa Evans is excited to share her love of hockey with youth in Nova Scotia’s first NHL/NHLPA First Shift BIPOC program

Shannon Coulter
|
February 03, 2022

As a young Black player growing up in Truro, N.S., Willa Evans struggled to find other youth that looked like her when she first got involved in the game.

“Growing up, my classmates were never like me. My teammates were never like me, and my coaches were never like me in that sense, being Black,” the 17-year-old says.

Now captain of her U18 AA team and the first Black captain of the Fundy Highland Female Hockey Association, she finds time to travel one hour each week to volunteer with Hockey Nova Scotia’s Black Youth Ice Hockey Program as a junior instructor. When she heard the province would be hosting its first BIPOC session as part of the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program, Evans jumped at the opportunity to volunteer.

“I’m really glad that the youth now have a chance to participate with people that are like them,” she says. “All the opportunities that these young kids have is very exciting for me to watch… with all of the different ways that they can get together and help the young youth get better together as the Black community.”

Evans wasn’t the only one who wanted to be involved with this program. There was an “overwhelming response” of volunteers, according to Dean Smith.

“I think it’s amazing,” says Smith, who is the chair of Hockey Nova Scotia’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. “The more people who are enrolled, the more members of the BIPOC community in dressing rooms, on the ice, in the officiating ranks, in the coaching ranks… it makes a huge difference. It’s role models for them to live up to.”

Along with the influx of volunteers, there’s also been lots of positive feedback from local hockey associations in the province, including requests to host their own NHL/NHLPA First Shift BIPOC program.

“We’ve had some comments about players wanting to play with kids that look like them, and that’s what these opportunities really do,” says Brad Taylor, technical director for Hockey Nova Scotia. “It’s the ‘see it is to believe it,’ really, so it’s great we’re able to do that and make that education and awareness piece within our ranks.”

“Every child, regardless of race [or] economic background, should have an opportunity to play [hockey] and love and enjoy, and that’s what we’re trying to create for these kids,” Smith adds.

Although it is a six-week program, the goal is for the hockey journey of the 30 participants to continue. Taylor says Hockey Nova Scotia is ready to support each participant and encourage them to sign up for minor hockey in the fall.

“It’s so important for these kids to continue to play,” he says. “Our goal would be to make sure we make it an easy transition.”

With dreams of becoming a coach and a teacher when she’s older, Evans is excited to get to know each of the young participants in the program.

“I want to teach young kids, so I love getting the experience of working with children,” she says. “I love their mentality. They’re always like ‘Yeah, I can do it,’ and it honestly makes me feel more confident being their coach and hearing them say that they can do it.”

National Women’s Team forward Sarah Nurse, who is on the ice in Beijing at her second Olympics, has been an inspiration to Evans throughout her hockey career. As a volunteer, she’s looking forward to the possibility of inspiring the lives of the program’s participants.

“To be one of those young kids’ role models… I don’t even know how to describe it. I’m just wowed by the fact that I’m old enough to be a role model,” she says. “I’m just absolutely excited to start working with these young kids.”

Over their six sessions together, Evans will have the opportunity to help develop the young participants as hockey players. But if there is one thing she hopes they will learn from the program, it’s her passion for the game.

“I just hope that they take from me the love of hockey and the amazing experiences they will get with hockey, and just them not giving up because times are hard,” she says.

“With us getting a whole bunch of opportunities for these young kids, I feel like they will want to help out when they’re older with their kids… I feel as if we are growing as the Black community in Nova Scotia and I feel like this is making us very much stronger.”

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NHL/NHLPA First Shift, by the numbers

A fact-and-figures look at the NHL/NHLPA First Shift, on and off the ice

Shannon Coulter
|
September 29, 2021

The return of our game means the return of the NHL/NHLPA First Shift. The eighth season of the program kicks off Wednesday in St. Catharines, Ont., and Hockey Canada, Bauer, the NHL and the NHLPA are excited to help more kids fall in love with hockey.

The NHL/NHLPA First Shift program is designed to facilitate entry into hockey by offering a program that is accessible, affordable, safe and, most importantly, fun! Each program includes a full set of Bauer equipment properly fitted by experts, a welcome event and six on-ice sessions with fun drills and great instructors.

This unique program is designed to ensure a positive experience for any families that are new to the game. We want families to experience the game at its best and provide a memorable and fun event to our participants.

As we head into our eighth season, here’s a look at NHL/NHLPA First Shift, by the numbers.

4: Para hockey programs scheduled for the 2021-22 season. Since 2014, we have run four para hockey First Shift events, meaning that by the end of the 2021-22 season we will double the number of executed para hockey programs.

6: On-ice sessions included in every NHL/NHLPA First Shift program. Each on-ice session focuses on having fun and learning to play the game.

7: Canadian NHL teams participating in delivering the program. All seven Canadian teams play a role in assisting with every First Shift event.

8: Seasons of the First Shift program. This is the third year with the NHL and NHLPA as partners.

13: Members across the country that host NHL/NHLPA First Shift programs. Each of the 13 Hockey Canada Members work with local hockey associations from coast to coast to coast to host events throughout the season.

30: Fit Experts that will be travelling across Canada during the 2021-22 season to assist with welcome events. To date, 72 experts have travelled across the country to help each participant get fit with their Bauer equipment to play hockey.

39: All-girls programs scheduled for this upcoming season. Over the past seven seasons, we have run 97 all-girls First Shift events.

225: NHL/NHLPA First Shift programs scheduled for the 2021-22 season.

874: Programs that have run since 2014. This also includes two NHL/NHLPA First Shift programs for participants on the autism spectrum.

5,244: Hours of on-ice sessions run through the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program.

8,673: Volunteers from local hockey associations, Members and NHL team staff that have been involved with the First Shift program. Their support and dedication have allowed the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program to run smoothly since 2014.

10,487: Girls that have participated in the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program.

21,245: Boys that have participated in the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program.

31,732: Kids, in total, that have participated in the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program since its launch in 2014.

130,095: Hours of support that have been provided by volunteers from local hockey associations, Members and NHL team staff.

571,176: Pieces of Bauer equipment that have been used by NHL/NHLPA First Shift participants. With our participants decked out head to toe in Bauer equipment, they are ready to have fun and have a memorable experience on the ice.

Click here for more information about the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program.

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Canada’s most popular hockey-intro program returns for 2018-19 season

Registration now open for the Canadian Tire First Shift, aimed at new-to-hockey families

NR.041.18
|
June 01, 2018

CALGARY, Alta. – Canada’s most popular introductory hockey program continues to expand its reach, as the Canadian Tire First Shift will be available in Inuvik, N.W.T., for the very first time.

First introduced in 2014 as a pilot project, the Canadian Tire First Shift is a learn-to-play hockey program designed for kids aged 6-10 who are new to the game. Registration for the often sold-out program begins June 1 for the 2018-19 season in communities across all 13 Hockey Canada regional members.

To-date, more than 15,500 Canadian boys and girls have been introduced to Canada’s game through the Canadian Tire First Shift, with many programs filling up on the first day of registration.

“The tremendous growth and even greater demand by kids and parents across the country has allowed Hockey Canada, and our partners Canadian Tire and Bauer, to introduce tens of thousands of Canadians to the game,” said Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada. “Many of those players move on to play within our minor hockey associations, but all of those families come away from the program with a positive experience and a new appreciation for the sport – and for Hockey Canada, that is the definition of success for this program.”

More than 190 programs have been confirmed for the 2018-19 season in provinces and territories right across the country. The response from Canadian families is no surprise to program organizers, which include Bauer Hockey, Canadian Tire, and Hockey Canada.

“As we gear up for the fifth season of the Canadian Tire First Shift, we are delighted by the overwhelming response from minor hockey associations across the country wanting to host the program, as well as a new generation of hockey players beginning their journey into our sport,” said Ludovic Lord, manager of recruitment initiatives for Hockey Canada. “Once again, the efforts and hard work of minor hockey associations and their volunteers will result in more than 6,000 children trying hockey this upcoming season as part of the Canadian Tire First Shift.”

With an emphasis on fun, the Canadian Tire First Shift allows kids ages 6-10 to easily try hockey for $199, which includes enrollment for a six-week, on-ice curriculum and head-to-toe Bauer Hockey equipment that each child can keep.

Though the program has always been open to both boys and girls, the popularity of all-female Canadian Tire First Shift programs over the last two seasons has seen more all-girl programs carved out for 2018-19 — 22, to be exact. The 2018-19 season will see 136 programs delivered as part of the Fall session, and another 56 targeted for the Winter session.

The initiative began in 2014 with four pilot programs in Ontario and Nova Scotia, expanded the following year to 35 programs, and doubled to 81 programs delivered in the 2015-16 hockey season. In each of the last two seasons, an all-time high of 150 Canadian Tire First Shift programs were delivered in communities across the country, and two-time Olympic gold-medallists Marie-Philip Poulin and Jonathan Toews joined Mark Messier as Canadian Tire First Shift ambassadors.

To learn more about the Canadian Tire First Shift in your community and how to register, please visit www.firstshift.ca. Parent information resources on hockey in Canada can be found at Hockey Canada’s Pathway to Minor Hockey.

 

About Bauer Hockey

Bauer Hockey is the world’s most recognized designer, marketer and manufacturer of hockey equipment. Founded in Kitchener, Ontario in 1927, Bauer Hockey developed the first skate with a blade attached to a boot, forever changing the game of hockey. Since then, Bauer Hockey has continued to develop the most sought-after products in the industry, including the widely successful SUPREME®, VAPOR® and NEXUS® lines of products.


About Hockey Canada

Hockey Canada is the governing body for hockey in Canada and a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), with a membership through its 13 member associations of over 700,000 players, coaches and officials. Hockey Canada is a not-for-profit organization that creates leading-edge hockey development programs for its members to deliver in communities across Canada; provides consistent rules and regulations and various other membership services from coast to coast to coast; manages numerous regional, national, and international hockey championships and events; and leads the operation of all teams that represent Canada in international ice hockey competition. Hockey Canada’s mission is to “lead, develop, and promote positive hockey experiences.” For more information on Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

 

About Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited, (TSX:CTC.A) (TSX:CTC) or "CTC," is a family of businesses that includes a retail segment, a financial services division and CT REIT. Our retail business is led by Canadian Tire, which was founded in 1922 and provides Canadians with products for life in Canada across its Living, Playing, Fixing, Automotive and Seasonal & Gardening divisions. PartSource and Gas+ are key parts of the Canadian Tire network. The retail segment also includes Mark's, a leading source for casual and industrial wear, and FGL Sports (Sport Chek, Hockey Experts, Sports Experts, National Sports, Intersport, Pro Hockey Life and Atmosphere), which offers the best active wear brands. The approximately 1,700 retail and gasoline outlets are supported and strengthened by our Financial Services division and the tens of thousands of people employed across the Company and its local dealers, franchisees and petroleum retailers. For more information, visit Corp.CanadianTire.ca.

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Canadian Tire First Shift goes coast to coast to coast for 2017-18 season

Registration now open for popular program aimed at new-to-hockey families

NR.055.17
|
June 27, 2017

CALGARY, Alta. – Canada’s most popular introductory hockey program has reached a new milestone; the Canadian Tire First Shift will be offered in communities that span all 13 of Hockey Canada’s members in the 2017-18 season.

First introduced in 2014 as a pilot project, Canadian Tire First Shift is a learn-to-play hockey program designed for kids aged 6-10 who are new to the game. More than 10,000 Canadian boys and girls have been introduced to Canada’s game through Canadian Tire First Shift, with many programs filling up on the first day of registration.

“The Canadian Tire First Shift program has taken the country by storm,” said Tom Renney, president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada. “The evolution of this program is unprecedented as it continues to realize enrolment at an amazing pace, and an even more impressive level of excitement for this amazing hockey experience.”

More than 160 programs have been confirmed for the 2017-18 season in provinces and territories right across the country. The response from Canadian families is no surprise to program organizers, which include Bauer Hockey, Canadian Tire, and Hockey Canada.

“Since those first four pilots in the spring of 2014, the interest in the Canadian Tire First Shift has continued to grow, and it has not been an unusual occurrence for us to have to turn away interested families – in fact, it’s much more common for us to see the programs over-subscribed than under,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development for Hockey Canada. “As much as Canada identifies with hockey as a symbol of our country and our citizenship, for parents who didn’t grow up playing the game – be they new Canadians or simply didn’t take part in the sport themselves growing up – Canadian Tire First Shift provides an easy way for them to let their kids try out the sport, and for them to become familiar with hockey’s fundamentals and the basics of the game and the equipment.

“We’ve found a substantive market for the Canadian Tire First Shift, and are really excited about the opportunity to reach another 5,000-plus Canadian families this season.”

With an emphasis on fun, Canadian Tire First Shift allows kids ages 6-10 to easily try hockey for $199, which includes enrollment for a six-week, on-ice curriculum and head-to-toe Bauer Hockey equipment that each child can keep.

The 2017-18 season will see 100 programs delivered as part of the Fall session, and another 60 targeted for the Winter session. Though the program has always been open to both boys and girls, the popularity of all-female Canadian Tire First Shift programs over the last two seasons has seen more all-girl programs carved out for 2017-18 – 13, to be exact.

The initiative began in 2014 with four pilot programs in Ontario and Nova Scotia, expanded the following year to 35 programs, and doubled to 81 programs delivered in the 2015-16 hockey season. Last season, an all-time high of 157 Canadian Tire First Shift programs were delivered in communities across the country, and two-time Olympic gold-medallists Marie-Philip Poulin and Jonathan Toews joined Mark Messier as Canadian Tire First Shift ambassadors.

Since its inception, an estimated 1,600 minor hockey association volunteers have supported 270 unique Canadian Tire First Shift events in the country, introducing more than 10,000 youngsters to Canada’s game.

To learn more about Canadian Tire First Shift in your community and how to register, please visit www.firstshift.ca. Parent information resources on hockey in Canada can be found at Hockey Canada’s Pathway to Minor Hockey.

About Bauer Hockey
Bauer Hockey is the world’s most recognized designer, marketer and manufacturer of hockey equipment. Founded in Kitchener, Ontario in 1927, Bauer Hockey developed the first skate with a blade attached to a boot, forever changing the game of hockey. Since then, Bauer Hockey has continued to develop the most sought after products in the industry, including the widely successful SUPREME®, VAPOR® and NEXUS® lines of products.

About Hockey Canada
Hockey Canada is the governing body for hockey in Canada and a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), with a membership through its 13 member associations of over 700,000 players, coaches and officials. Hockey Canada is a not-for-profit organization that creates leading-edge hockey development programs for its members to deliver in communities across Canada; provides consistent rules and regulations and various other membership services from coast to coast to coast; manages numerous regional, national, and international hockey championships and events; and leads the operation of all teams that represent Canada in international ice hockey competition. Hockey Canada’s mission is to “lead, develop, and promote positive hockey experiences.” For more information on Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

About Canadian Tire
Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited, (TSX:CTC.A) (TSX:CTC) or "CTC," is a family of businesses that includes a retail segment, a financial services division and CT REIT. Our retail business is led by Canadian Tire, which was founded in 1922 and provides Canadians with products for life in Canada across its Living, Playing, Fixing, Automotive and Seasonal categories. PartSource and Gas+ are key parts of the Canadian Tire network. The retail segment also includes Mark's, a leading source for casual and industrial wear, and FGL Sports (Sport Chek, Hockey Experts, Sports Experts, National Sports, Intersport, Pro Hockey Life and Atmosphere), which offers the best active wear brands. The approximately 1,700 retail and gasoline outlets are supported and strengthened by our Financial Services division and the tens of thousands of people employed across the Company and its local dealers, franchisees and petroleum retailers. For more information, visit Corp.CanadianTire.ca.

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Bauer, Hockey Canada seek to double The First Shift program next season

Innovative national program makes it easy for families to try hockey; MHA registration now open

March 21, 2016
CALGARY, Alta. (March 21, 2016) – Building on the growing success of The First Shift – a learn-to-play hockey program for kids aged 6-10 - Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada looking to double the number of programs it delivers across the country next season.

With an emphasis on fun, The First Shift allows kids ages 6-10 to easily try hockey for $199, which includes enrollment for a six-week, on-ice curriculum and head-to-toe BAUER equipment that each child can keep. The initiative began in 2012 with four pilot programs in Ontario and Nova Scotia, expanded the following year to 40 programs, and doubled to 80 programs delivered in the 2015-16 hockey season.

“To-date, we’ve introduced more than 4,600 players to the game through The First Shift,” said Mary-Kay Messier, senior director, strategic brand initiatives and partnerships, Bauer Hockey. “The popularity of the program continues to grow for kids and their families, with many of programs having to turn kids away and reaching capacity registration in a matter of days. We’re looking to just about double the number of programs we deliver next season, with a target of 150 The First Shift programs for the 2016-17 season.”

The First Shift was created with the goal of creating an exceptional first experience in hockey not only for young players, but for their entire family.

Based on surveys of families and parents whose children participated in The First Shift, 86 per cent of First Shift participants re-enroll into hockey in the First Shift Transition program, 100 per cent of parents said their kids had fun, and 100 per cent of parents would recommend the program to a friend.

Minor hockey associations asked to register now to bring The First Shift to their community

The First Shift is delivered through minor hockey associations (MHAs) across Canada in partnership with Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada, and relies on volunteer coaches and program administrators to succeed. MHAs interested in applying to bring The First Shift to their community next year are asked to apply now for both fall and winter 2016-17 sessions.

Part of the responsibilities of the MHAs participating in The First Shift include the provision of two blocks of six successive ice sessions on the same day of the week at the same time each day; a space to host the Welcome Event; a commitment to attend program education sessions; and the ability to provide resource personnel to support the delivery of The First Shift program.

“Hockey Canada wants to see more Canadians enjoying the many benefits of hockey – from its ability to support healthy, active lifestyles, to its inherent social outlet and the many life-skills learned from playing in a team environment,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development at Hockey Canada. “Working with Bauer Hockey, The First Shift was developed to specifically meet the needs of those families who are new to hockey and want a fun way for their children to first experience the game.”

About Bauer Hockey

Bauer Hockey is the world’s most recognized designer, marketer and manufacturer of hockey equipment. Founded in Kitchener, Ontario in 1927, Bauer Hockey developed the first skate with a blade attached to a boot, forever changing the game of hockey. Since then, Bauer Hockey has continued to develop the most sought after products in the industry, including the widely successful SUPREME®, VAPOR® and NEXUS® lines of products. Performance Sports Group Ltd., the parent company of Bauer Hockey, is a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange whose affiliates market products under the BAUER, MISSION, MAVERIK, CASCADE, INARIA, COMBAT and EASTON brand names. Performance Sports Group is a member of the Russell 2000 and 3000 Indexes, as well as the S&P/Toronto Stock Exchange Composite Index.

About Hockey Canada

Hockey Canada is the governing body for hockey in Canada and a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), with a membership through its 13 member branches of over 700,000 players, coaches and officials. Hockey Canada is a not-for-profit organization that creates leading-edge hockey development programs for its members to deliver in communities across Canada; provides consistent rules and regulations and various other membership services from coast to coast to coast; manages numerous regional, national, and international hockey championships and events; and leads the operation of all teams that represent Canada in international ice hockey competition. Hockey Canada’s mission is to “lead, develop and promote positive hockey experiences.” For more information on Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

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For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

Videos
Photos
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BFL: Celebrating the best behind the bench
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HCF: Assist Fund in Action – Simon
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HCF: Dreams Come True in Membertou
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MWC: Highlights – SWE 4, CAN 2 (Bronze Medal)
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MWC: Highlights – SUI 3, CAN 2 SO (Semifinal)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 6, SVK 3 (Quarterfinal)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 4, CZE 3 OT (Preliminary)
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MWC: Remembering the wild ride in Riga
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Centennial: Highlights – Collingwood 1, Melfort 0 (Championship)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 3, SUI 2 (Preliminary)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 5, FIN 3 (Preliminary)
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NMT: Evason brings passion and pride to Prague
Schedule
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Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Date: Jul 19 to 23
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Edmonton, Alta., Canada
Date: Aug 3 to 10