Mar 1, 2023
BATAVIA — About 40 kids were out on the ice earlier today at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena, getting used to the ice to possibly develop an interest in hockey.
The arena hosted a Try Hockey for Free session. This USA Hockey program is for children, ages 4-9, who are interested in trying hockey for the first time. All equipment is provided.
Jerrod Stein of Le Roy was there with his son, Graham Stein, 5, who was out on the ice. Graham took part in open skating a couple of weekends before, his dad said.
“I thought it would be fun to get him going,” Jerrod Stein said. Today was the first time Graham participated in Try Hockey for Free. He and his dad got to see a Mites game before he got on the ice for Try Hockey for Free.
“After watching the game that was ahead of this Try Hockey program, he was excited as can be. It was fun just to get him going skating,” Jerrod Stein said. “Now, to actually see the game and watching ... the moving pieces of it, he was awful excited to come out and learn. We’ll find out when we get him off the ice, but he’s been all smiles so far. A couple of hours, he’s been on the ice.”
Graham may stay interested in hockey, his dad said.
“It’s too early to tell. He’s only young yet. We’ll see. He seems interested at the moment, but with kids, that can change in five minutes,” Jerrod Stein said.
At one end of the ice, Graham and other kids were playing a game called “Sharks and Minnows” just to skate around, Stein said.
“Just playing, making sure it’s fun — that’s what it’s all about — getting him going and getting him excited about it,” he said. “This is all about learning. We’ve been up for the Open Skates the past few weeks. We’ve been seeing the flyer for it (Try Hockey for Free), so we signed him up that way.”
Jerrod Stein said he thinks he’ll bring Graham to another Try Hockey session.
“If he’s interested in playing, we’ll probably start him right in Beginners next year. We’ll see what he wants to do,” Stein said. “He seems interested so far, so we’ll see how it goes.”
In the bleachers to watch their son, Lincoln, 4, during the program were Mark Babcock and Shannon LaJuett of Le Roy. Lincoln was trying hockey today for the first time, his dad said.
“He’s done Family Skate. We’ve gone out once or twice,” Babcock said.
“This is a program just to expose kids to hockey,” Babcock said. “I’ve played my whole life, so he’s been exposed through me. This is his first time actually getting to try it. It’s built to give them a little bit of stepping stone, where they do some basic drills just to get their feet underneath them. They learn how to skate with a hockey stick and try to go after a puck.”
LaJuett said Lincoln doesn’t quite know how to skate yet and is trying to get acclimated to it.
“He’s very athletic, so he plays at home, in the living room,” she said. “He’s trying. You can tell he’s having fun.”
Babcock said he could see a smile on his son’s face.
Players with the Batavia Notre Dame United hockey program were on the ice with the kids to help them out. This included having the kids sit in chairs and pushing the chairs along on the ice.
“I like how they put them in those little chairs to get a feel for it if they don’t know how to skate,” LaJuett said.
Amanda Page of Medina was watching her son, Dylan, 4, enjoy the program.
“He’s relatively new. He’s getting better at it, I think,” she said. “He had a couple of practices prior to this, so just learning. He loves hockey, he loves to skate, so we thought We’d try it out. He was practicing before this. We’re trying to get him into it, seeing what he thinks.”
Dylan loves hockey and watches the Sabres with his dad, Jeff, Amanda Page said.
“He was excited to come. His dad got him signed up for it,” she said.