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WATCH: 60 new Canadians experience hockey for the first time

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It was a typical Thursday evening in Peterborough for Petes players and fans alike as they looked forward to their usual home game, with the Niagara IceDogs rolling into the Lift Lock City. However, there was a different atmosphere surrounding the Peterborough Memorial Centre on November 14 as the Petes organization welcomed 60 new Canadians for Try Hockey Night.

All 60 new Canadians, who ranged from 6 to 60 years of age, were introduced to hockey with the help of the Peterborough Girls Hockey Association Peewee AA Ice Kats who showed and taught the group how to skate, hold a hockey stick, shoot the puck, and many more on-ice activities. The group was split into two, with 30 people on the ice for 30 minutes each. 

Kilcollins (right) sets up a new Canadian with a pair of skates for an on ice session.
Kilcollins (right) sets up a new Canadian with a pair of skates for an on ice session.

“I’ve wanted to do this since I was an intern with the Petes,” said Shelbi Kilcollins, Manager of Social Impact, Growth & Alumni Relations for the Peterborough Petes. “Hockey seems to market itself and be approachable to a certain demographic in Canada. I think this is a terrific opportunity to make significant steps in growing the game of hockey.” 

Many of the skates and helmets used during the event were provided by Rebound Skates and Golf, with Kilcollins acknowledging the night couldn’t have happened without their involvement.

“We owe a huge thank you to Rebound Skates and Golf,” exclaimed Kilcollins. “We couldn’t have done it without their generosity, time, and energy to make this happen. We can’t thank them enough.”

Members of the PGHA Peewee AA Ice Kats lend helping hands to new Canadians as they skate for the first time.
Members of the PGHA Peewee AA Ice Kats lend helping hands to new Canadians as they skate for the first time.

However, this skate was orchestrated beyond just Kilcollins and Rebound Skates and Golf. 

“I had the pleasure of working with Anne Elliot, a Community Connections Worker at the New Canadians Centre,” explained Kilcollins. “Even though she is unfamiliar with hockey, she was on board to make this possible.” 

Kilcollins also worked with Jess Devlin, Settlement Worker in Schools Coordinator, and Carol Lawless, Fund Development Coordinator, both with the New Canadians Centre, in order to make her dream become a reality. 

“They all played a huge factor in this skate,” said Kilcollins. “Everyone was amazing to work with and they reached out to the new Canadians to rally participants.” 

Since the majority of the group consists of people hailing from the Philippines, Sudan and Syria, many of them hadn’t played or even watched hockey.

The Petes continued to shine a light on the Canadian hockey experience after the 60 new Canadians completed their skate. The entire group was in attendance to watch their first Ontario Hockey League game, as the Bob Gainey Foundation generously made a ticket donation to the entire group. 

Petes GM Mike Oke (back left) and Head Trainer/Equipment Manager Brian Miller (back right) give a dressing room tour to a group of new Canadians.
Petes GM Mike Oke (back left) and Head Trainer/Equipment Manager Brian Miller (back right) give a dressing room tour to a group of new Canadians.

Kilcollins noted that there was extensive interest from the new Canadians wanting to try and participate in playing hockey.

“The amount of traction we have picked up from new Canadians has been wonderful,” said Kilcollins with a smile. “With such a demand, it’s safe to say we will be looking to do this again in the new year.”

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