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'Excited to learn to skate': Program gives 30 children an introduction to hockey


Stepping onto the ice isn't always the smoothest when it's your first time — but thanks to the Bauer First Shift program, children from London and St. Thomas, Ont. are being introduced to the basics of hockey.

"We're going to be skating and we might learn some new stuff," eight-year old Ruby Gallagher said.

Some have skated but most have never held a stick.

"I’m going to have to figure out how to hold it and how to shoot it but I'm excited," said James Kellesis, 10, of London, Ont.

St. Thomas Minor Hockey coach Sean Nicholson applied to host the program which drastically reduces the cost. Thirty families were able to sign up.

"For 300 dollars, the family gets head-to-toe equipment," said Nicholson.

"It includes a stick, skates, top-of-the-line helmet and six weeks with coaches like me and a bunch of volunteers that we’re lucky enough to have".

Dustin Gallagher is excited to see his little girl take to the ice.

"She is a little girl who loves to try new things," said Dustin.

"Last fall, she expressed interest in playing hockey but we couldn't get into any ice hockey programs at the time. So we got into ball hockey for a bit and we just found ourselves here.”

Six-year old Brody Brown, a new Canadian whose family moved from China last year, used to just watch the Montreal Canadiens with his dad, Rob, from the couch.

Now, he's on the ice.

Six-year-old Brody Brown, a new Canadian from China, learns to play hockey during the Bauer First Shift program. (Source: Brent Lale/CTV News London)

 "There's no rink there because we're on an island so it's pretty warm climate," said Rob Brown.

“There is a couple of public skating rinks inside malls, but we didn't have skates at the time. So thinking that now he wants to play hockey, this is the best, easy way to get into it".

In the opening session, the kids learned about balance and how to hold a stick. They were introduced to the parts of the arena and eventually got to pass and shoot the puck.

"To see 30 kids and their families on the ice for the first time playing hockey, it's exciting," said Nicholson. "You're getting the grassroots and their excitement just carries over. You can hide passion"

Judging by the smiles on their faces, these kids and their parents will never forget their first shift. Top Stories

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