Bauer Hockey, Hockey Canada Expand Successful Pilot Programs that Attract New Families to Hockey

84 Percent of New-to-Hockey Participants Joined Their Local Association

EXETER, NH, Feb. 5, 2014 /CNW/ - Bauer Hockey, the world's leading manufacturer of ice hockey equipment, and Hockey Canada announced today the next phase of their Grow the Game partnership.  Based on their research findings, the two organizations created a successful model for attracting new families to the game.  The next phase is the expansion of the Big Assist pilot programs into four markets in Canada and the addition of a program director at Bauer focused on this global initiative.

"As the leader in the hockey industry, it's our responsibility to help ensure hockey is offered in ways that fit into families' busy lives," said Kevin Davis, president and CEO of Bauer Performance Sports.  "We've created a successful model for families who don't have an option through today's offerings.  The Big Assist lets kids try the game like they try other sports at a young age – convenient, affordable and fun – and based on our initial feedback, it works."

With Canada as its starting point, Bauer and Hockey Canada commissioned a research study to better understand why 90 percent of Canadian families and their children choose not to play hockey. 

To overcome the perceived barriers found in this study, pilot programs were created to offer hockey in a convenient and affordable way that maximizes fun.  These pilot programs are six weeks, $100 for gear and enrollment, and provide a fun and welcoming environment for kids and their parents new to the game.

The first round of pilot programs was held this past winter in Scarborough, Ontario, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Every on-ice Big Assist session was filled to capacity, and approximately 84 percent of participants went on to sign up with their local association.

"We always wanted our kids to try hockey and enjoy all that it has to offer," said Faisal Samad, a parent of two children who participated in Halifax's winter Big Assist.  "I regret not having the chance to play hockey when I moved to Canada in 1993, which is why I'm glad my kids have this opportunity today.  Our kids had so much fun on the ice and the program allowed us to still have time to do other activities as a family.  We're looking forward to signing up again."

In a survey conducted after the programs, 100 percent of parents said they would recommend the program to a friend and, as importantly, 100 percent of respondents said their children had fun.  Based on the success of these initial Big Assist programs and the feedback from parents, Bauer and Hockey Canada will be expanding the offering to additional markets.  Beginning in February, Big Assist programs will be held in Scarborough and Halifax, as well as Hamilton, Ontario, and Sydney, Nova Scotia. 

"Hockey Canada is extremely pleased with the outcome of the first phase of the Bauer Grow the Game Pilot Project," said Paul Carson, vice-president of hockey development at Hockey Canada.  "The partnerships between Bauer, Hockey Canada and the local minor hockey associations hosting these learn to play programs have demonstrated the value of working collaboratively to create wonderful and engaging opportunities for young girls and boys to experience hockey in a safe, fun and positive environment."

To lead this expanding Grow the Game initiative, Bauer Hockey has tapped Mary-Kay Messier, who joined Bauer following the company's acquisition of Cascade and previously worked on The Messier Project. 

"As someone who grew up in a hockey family and is now a mom to children who play, I know just how important this initiative is to the future of our sport," said Mary-Kay Messier, director of brand initiatives for Bauer Hockey.  "I'm excited to play a part in helping to grow the game of hockey because I have seen just how much it has to offer.  It's a unique character-building sport that teaches teamwork over individual success, rewards hard work and, most importantly, is fun for the entire family."

Launched in 2012, Grow the Game is a global initiative to add 1 million new players to the game by 2022.  Included below are the program details for each Big Assist market. 

HAMILTON
Program: February 6March 20 on Thursdays from 6 – 7 p.m.
Location: Parkdale Arena
Hamilton held its welcome event/equipment fitting last weekend.

SCARBOROUGH
Welcome Event/Equipment Fitting: February 18 at 6 p.m.
Program: February 23March 30 on Sundays from 12 – 1 p.m. & 1 – 2 p.m.
Location: Don Montgomery Community Centre

HALIFAX
Welcome Event/Equipment Fitting: February 22 at 11 a.m.
Program: March 2April 6 on Sundays from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: BMO Centre

SYDNEY
Welcome Event/Equipment Fitting: February 23 at 10 a.m. at Centennial Arena
Program: March 2April 6 on Sundays from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Location: Centre 200

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. Bauer Performance Sports Ltd., the parent company of Bauer Hockey, is a publicly-traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange whose affiliates market products under the BAUER, MISSION, MAVERIK, CASCADE, INARIA and COMBAT brand names.    For more information, visit Bauer Hockey's website at www.BAUER.com.

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 provincial branch 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, manages numerous regional, national and international hockey championships and events, and leads the operation of all teams that represent Canada in international hockey competition.  Hockey Canada's mission is to "lead, develop and promote positive hockey experiences."

SOURCE BAUER HOCKEY, INC.

For further information: MEDIA INQUIRIES: Tory Mazzola, Global Communications Manager, Bauer Hockey, Phone: 603-430-2111, media@bauer.com; Francis Dupont, Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Hockey Canada, Phone: 403-777-4564, fdupont@hockeycanada.ca; Keegan Goodrich, Media Relations Coordinator, Hockey Canada, Phone: (403) 777-3636, kgoodrich@hockeycanada.ca