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 member regions 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 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.