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Get your kid in the game with The First Shift

Bauer and Hockey Canada’s The First Shift returns to Alberta again this season, with a new partner: Canadian Tire.

The First Shift is a truly unique experience designed to help your child fall in love with hockey before you buy all the gear. The six-week learn to play program focuses on having fun while learning basic skills. Registration is just $199, which includes full head-to-toe equipment.

More than 144 the First Shift programs have been confirmed for the 2016-17 season in provinces right across the country, many of whom are already fully subscribed. The response from Canadian families is no surprise to program organizers.

“Since those first four pilots in the spring of 2014, the interest in the 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 it new Canadians or simply didn’t take part in the sport themselves growing up - The 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 First Shift, and are really excited about the opportunity to welcome one of Hockey Canada’s long-standing partners, Canadian Tire, to the program as we seek to reach double the number of Canadian families this season alone.”

This year, the First Shift returns to 59 communities, while 64 new communities will welcome the program. All programs are run locally by minor hockey associations, and powered by volunteers.

Growing the female game

New this season are 14 all-girl programs. The First Shift has always been open to both boys and girls, but one all-girl program was piloted in 2015-16 in Quebec, and this year, more communities have come on board as part of their strategy to grow the female game in their areas.

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 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.

Based on surveys of families and parents whose children participated in the First Shift, 86 per cent of 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.

To learn more about the First Shift and how to register, please visit

The First Shift will be offered in seven locations throughout Alberta in the fall, and six in the winter:

Fall Programs:

  • Edmonton
  • Grande Prairie
  • Calgary
  • Lethbridge
  • Medicine Hat
  • Cold Lake
  • Sherwood Park

Winter Programs:

  • Calgary
  • St. Albert
  • Grande Prairie
  • Edmonton
  • Sherwood Park
  • Lac La Biche

For more information on the program nearest you, please visit the Program Locator section on the The First Shift website.

The First Shift’s mission is to change the way hockey is offered, to inspire new families to join our community and enroll their kids in our sport. Because we believe in all that hockey has to offer kids, their families and our communities, we designed The First Shift to break down barriers to entry by offering a program that is accessible, affordable, and most importantly, fun!


Pembina doubles grant – almost 60 sets of ice dividers awarded

RED DEER - The response was overwhelming, with nearly 60 minor hockey associations across Alberta applying to receive ice dividers to help operate Hockey Alberta’s Initiation Program within their organizations.

And Pembina Pipeline Corporation has responded by ensuring that every eligible applicant has a set of divider boards in place for the 2016-17 season.

The Initiation Program encourages associations to have dividers in place to split the ice into smaller sections, thereby providing an emphasis on skill development and safety for players six years and under.

Pembina Pipeline and Hockey Alberta originally partnered on a special grant program that would see Pembina fund approximately 30 sets of divider boards for the upcoming season. However, Pembina agreed to double the grant, thereby ensuring none of this year’s applicants are left out.

“We all know that when we sign our kids up for hockey, we’re doing it to provide them with an opportunity to be a part of a team, learn some new skills, and get some exercise, all in a safe and fun environment. We also know that many families and communities have been hit hard by the economic downturn and that having to purchase temporary boards or foam rink dividers in addition to annual fees would be an additional financial burden. This is a real opportunity for Pembina to get involved, as it hits so many of our core values,” said Don Carter, Pembina’s Athabasca District Manager.

The goal of the grant program is to remove the financial burden for Minor Hockey Associations who require these divider boards.

“We were very pleased with the overwhelming response from our associations, as it shows the importance of offering the Initiation Program for their youngest players,” said Mike Klass, Senior Manager, Business Operations, for Hockey Alberta. “Then, we were ecstatic when Pembina agreed to enhance the grant program, thereby ensuring every eligible applicant would receive divider boards.”

Associations receiving support for divider boards to help operate the Initiation Program are: Airdrie, Blackfalds, Bonnyville, Bowden, Camrose, Castor, Clairmont, Claresholm, Coaldale, Crossfield, Delburne, Drayton Valley, Eckville, Edmonton, Edson, Foothills, Fort Macleod, Fort McMurray, Fort Saskatchewan, Girls Hockey Calgary, Grande Prairie, Hanna, Innisfail, Kneehill, Lac La Biche, Lake Bonavista, Leduc, Lethbridge, Manning, Medicine Hat, Midnapore, Millet, New Sarepta, Pembina, Picture Butte, Red Deer, Redwater, Rocky Mountain House, Rycroft, Sherwood Park, Southwest, Spruce View, St. Paul, Sturgeon, Sylvan Lake, Vegreville, Vulcan, Wabamun, and Winfield.

The dividers are scheduled to be delivered in October.

About the Grant Program:

The grant was available to associations using the Initiation Guidelines in the 2016-17 season. Associations could apply for a full set of foam rink dividers (valued at approximately $3,000) or for funding towards the cost of a set of puck board rink dividers (valued at approximately $6,000).

For more information:


Hockey Alberta – proudly unveiling our new visual identity

RED DEER - The newest chapter in the 109-year history of Hockey Alberta begins today.

The body that has overseen amateur hockey in the province since its inception in 1907 is proud to unveil its new visual identity.

The new logo combines a number of elements that focus on how to best represent hockey in Alberta.

Alberta is represented through the use of the official gold and blue colours of the province; a stylized letter ‘A’ that also forms the profile of a net; and the inclusion of the Alberta wordmark at the base of the logo. In addition to the profile of the net, hockey is represented by the silhouette of a player. The player reflects Hockey Alberta’s new Mission statement (adopted in 2015) which focuses on ensuring that all players have the opportunity to participate and enjoy the sport, as well as Hockey Alberta’s status as a member of Hockey Canada.

“We believe the new logo connects our entire organization. For our players from each corner of the province, from grassroots to elite, and for all of our stakeholders who work so hard to ensure everyone has a positive experience in the sport, the new Hockey Alberta brand reflects our pride in our sport in our province,” said Rob Litwinski, Chief Executive Officer of Hockey Alberta.

Hockey Alberta News
Hockey Alberta staff proudly celebrate and display the organization’s new logo.

The new logo was created in conjunction with Paul Ongaro of Stadium Sportswear in Edmonton. It replaces the Hockey Alberta logo that had been in place since 2003, and the Team Alberta logo developed over the past decade.

The new visual identity can be noticed immediately at the Hockey Alberta office in Red Deer, where new exterior signage has been installed; on the website at; on the cover of the 2016-17 Bylaws and Regulations book (also available in digital form on the website); and on all of Hockey Alberta’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube).

The logo will adorn the jerseys worn by on-ice officials this season, as well as Hockey Alberta’s provincial team jerseys. Unveilings of the new Team Alberta jerseys will be held in the fall for the U16 Male team competing at the Western Canada Challenge (Oct. 18-23) in Calgary, and the U18 Female squad heading to the National Women’s U18 championship (Nov. 9-13) in Regina.

The transition to the new visual identity will continue throughout the fall with a new logo for the Hockey Alberta Foundation, new signage for Hockey Alberta’s Regional Centres located in Grande Prairie, Lloydminster, Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton; new event and program logos; and new-look stationery and clothing items.