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NHL Learn to Play Hockey Program
Free hockey equipment and basic ice hockey skill instruction are all included in the NHL Learn to Play Hockey Rookie Program. See what is included, what to expect and what our experience with this program has been!
Shortly after Landon turned three, he started to express an interest in playing ice hockey. There was just one problem: he had never been on ice skates! We took him to our local ice rink and after one public skate session he was hooked on the ice (and let’s be honest, the zamboni). He wanted to play ice hockey so much, but we knew he had to learn some basic skating skills first. That winter, we signed him up for his first session of ice skating lessons. I’d love to tell you that he was God’s greatest gift to the sport of skating and that he mastered the basic moves within a few lessons. The truth of the matter was more like: he was 3 and he spent a good portion of every lesson trying to lick the ice through his helmet cage. LOL! But we stuck with it and eventually we started to see progress – a little more progress every single week.
After several months of skating lessons, we started to hear feedback from other rink parents about the NHL Learn to Play Hockey Program. This program is sponsored by the NHL (locally to us by the Philadelphia Flyers). It sounded too good to be true. Supposedly kids got free hockey equipment and upon completion of the program it was theirs to keep! Well, we looked into it and kids have to be 5 years old to sign up for the NHL Learn to Play Hockey program. We figured the equipment alone was worth waiting for, so we kept Landon in skating lessons until this past summer.
He went from a timid 3 year old on figure skates to a little hellion on hockey skates by the time his 5th birthday arrived. Finally, it was time to sign him up for ice hockey (and I’m not sure who was more excited – him or his parents)!
How to Sign Up for NHL Learn to Play Hockey
NHL Learn to Play program is offered at many rinks across the country. It runs in 7 week sessions (this number can vary by location). I highly recommend checking the NHL Learn to Play website for your local rink OFTEN as this program is very popular and sell outs are common. I checked our rink’s sign up page every couple of days and was able to get a spot within a day or two of registration opening.
We signed up online about 2 months before the first hockey session started. It was $160 for a 7 week session (again, this might vary by rink).
Equipment Fitting Night at Pure Hockey
After I signed Landon up for the hockey program online, I was able to choose an equipment fitting appointment at our local Pure Hockey store. We headed to the store unsure of how long we would be there. I have to tell you, our experience at Pure Hockey could not have been better!
We were greeted and welcomed upon arrival by the Pure Hockey and Learn to Play staff. Landon got his jersey and we received a brief rundown of what to expect that night. Everything was set up on an iPad which we carried with us around the store. Around the perimeter of the store were stations for each piece of equipment that Landon was to be fit for. All of this equipment was brand new and all of it was completely FREE with his participation in the program. See below where I list a few accessories that we bought at their recommendation that was not included.
Everyone at Pure Hockey was SO nice and SO helpful. They knew what they were doing and they made sure that we were ordering the proper sizes. We walked out of the store with a brand new jersey, helmet and stick. Everything else was ordered and would be shipped (free of charge) right to our door.
Items that we purchased that were not included in the free equipment: tape, mouth guard, suspenders.
Less than one week later, a big old box of hockey equipment was delivered to our door! Look at all of this! AMAZING!! Talk about getting these kids off to a great, safe start as they explore the sport!
Free Equipment Included in NHL Learn to Play Program:
Ice Hockey Helmet with a cage
Note: Your skates will not be sharpened as they are brand new. Make sure you take them to your local rink or hockey store and have them sharpened before hitting the ice on them.
The Hockey Program
You’ve got the equipment, now it’s time to play some hockey!
Our Learn to Play Hockey session ran for 7 weeks with a 1 hour on-ice instructional session each week. Our rink had about 70 kids in the session and the instructors appeared to break them up according to age. After a few warm up laps around the ice each week, the kids then broke into their smaller groups and started practice.
The kids worked on basic stick handling, skating skills, puck handling and more. They worked as a team and promoted learning in a positive atmosphere. Landon had an absolute blast each and every week during ice hockey! He received a great foundation in ice hockey skills and by the time the program ended, he was excited to join one of the rink’s in-house learn to play hockey programs.
And all of that equipment? His to keep! How cool is that?
If you think your child would enjoy learning how to play ice hockey and you happen to have an NHL Learn to Play Hockey program nearby, I highly recommend it! We found our rink to have a well-run program and were so pleased with how efficient and easy everything was. It was a great intro to ice hockey for us.