By Seth Daniel
One of the best deals in youth hockey hit Charlestown this fall with the Little Bruins program expanding to the Town and finding huge success in its inaugural year – spurring hope for organizers than more young boys and girls will continue through the Charlestown Youth Hockey (CYH) program.
The program is sponsored by the Boston Bruins and offers a tremendous deal on equipment, support staff, instruction and visits by former Bruins during a four-week program that teaches skating and skills.
Organizer and CYH Coach Mike Frawley said the program is in the third week of its four-week run and they have two sessions with 75 total kids from ages 5-8 participating every Saturday morning. One noteworthy things is that 23 of the 75 kids are girls – which is something CYH is very proud of.
“We’re just trying to get more kids interested in youth hockey,” he said. “We were contacted by the Bruins about this program last spring. They wanted to expand the Little Bruins to more programs and they said Charlestown could be one place. We signed up for it. There are 20 teams and we are only one of three in the city…We believe we have one of the largest participation numbers in the program.”
The Little Bruins offer a great deal in particular with equipment, which is a barrier to many boys and girls who want to play hockey.
For $100, the Little Bruins provide young people with more than $365 worth of quality equipment.
Frawley said participants are outfitted with full equipment during a fitting in a New Hampshire hockey equipment distributor.
“That’s huge,” said Frawley. “The equipment is what drives most people away from hockey. It’s the investment in equipment and the reimbursement for ice time that is so helpful.”
Last Saturday morning, Hal Gill – a former Bruin – was skating out on the ice with little boys and girls, the former pro showing them how to handle a stick and move on the ice. Other Bruins visited in previous weeks, and this Saturday, another retired Bruin will be on the ice at the Charlestown Ice Rink.
Beyond the instruction from former Bruins, coaches from CYH help coordinate skill stations and obstacle courses and agility training – focusing especially on the edge work that need to be built up in young players.
The purpose of the Little Bruins for Charlestown is to feed into the Micro Hockey program, which starts the week after Little Bruins ends.
“This final week we will have scrimmages and then we will go right into Micro Hockey,” he said. “It’s really meant to get all the kids in and get them interested and then into the Learn to Play Youth Hockey. That’s what all of this is meant to do.” Already, the CYH Mite Program is growing, with 29 participants three years ago, and 105 this year.
Frawley said he expected to have far more kids for next year’s edition of Little Bruins, and he expects it to eventually feed a huge influx of girls and boys hockey players into the ranks of the program. “Next year we expect to have as many or more than we had this year for Little Bruins.”