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'Learn to Play' program returns for 5th season

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Mon, Dec 21st 2020 03:20 pm

The Buffalo Sabres announced registration is now open for the team’s “Learn to Play” program. 

Sabres alumnus Patrick Kaleta will continue in his fifth year as youth hockey ambassador and will work alongside fellow alumni Cody McCormick and Tim Kennedy. NHL alumnus Stephen Gionta will also work with the group for sessions located in Rochester.

As a Buffalo native, Kaleta has worked with numerous local charity organizations throughout his career to help benefit families in Western New York.

“I can’t wait to get back on the ice to help teach young hockey players in our community,” Kaleta said. “We’ve developed this program into something truly special the last four years and I’m excited to welcome in a new group of participants in 2021.”

All Buffalo Sabres “Learn to Play” participants will receive new custom-fitted equipment from CCM. Equipment kits will include a helmet, stick, equipment bag, jersey, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, pants, shin pads, socks and skates. Participants can register for the program at www.Sabres.com/LearnToPlay.

Introduced in 2016, “Learn to Play” enhances the way youth hockey is offered by providing first-time participants from ages 4-9 with free head-to-toe equipment, age-appropriate instruction and certified coaching led by NHL alumni in a fun and safe atmosphere. The program has expanded to include a total of 13 rinks in Western New York this season, including the addition of Tonawanda and a possible second Rochester location, with lessons taught by Sabres alumni, USA Hockey-certified instructors and professional women’s hockey players.

NHL alumni work with all NHL teams to make sure consistent on-ice programming and messaging is distributed to coaches and parents across all markets. The program also works with USA Hockey to display the benefits of the American Development Model.

Developed with the help of experts from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, the NHL/NHLPA “Learn to Play” initiative aims to be the gold standard for youth hockey programs with the goal of inspiring more families to join the hockey community.

For questions or additional information, interested participants can contact Ed Grudzinski at [email protected].

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