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by Brad Aubin

For kids aged four to six, starting hockey on a full sheet of ice can be challenging. The giant ice surface can lead to lots of skating around, and a lot less puck handling. That’s why Hockey Canada implemented changes to how our nation’s game is introduced to young beginners. The ‘Initiation to Hockey’ program sees the full ice surface split in three, with kids playing on each individual section, going from side to side of the rink, instead of from end to end.

Of course, that requires an investment in extra rink boards to separate the playing areas. Now, thanks to the Caisse populaire Alliance, little ones in West Nipissing and Sudbury East will get to enjoy playing on a smaller surface while still feeling the authenticity of the game with actual boards. The Caisse Alliance pledged $10,000 to local minor hockey associations to purchase two sets of big leather bumpers, on set of quick installation boards that can be put on and taken off within minutes, as well as eight small nets. The equipment will be kept at the Verner and Warren arenas, but can be moved around to other arenas as required.

On Saturday, March 4th, representatives of the Caisse Alliance attended the Initiation to Hockey “Fun Day”, held at the Verner arena, to unveil the new system. The event sees players from across all local minor hockey associations (French-River, Markstay-Warren, St-Charles, Verner and West Nipissing) playing in a non-competitive, fun environment. The day opened up with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, where the Caisse Alliance presented a giant $10,000 cheque.

Caisse Populaire Alliance General Manager (Verner) Stéphane Methot was on hand to make the announcement. “It’s with great pleasure that the Caisse Alliance is here today, represented by Julie Armitage from the local committee in Verner and myself, to sponsor local minor hockey associations for many thousands of dollars. We are proud of the collaboration between the hockey associations throughout the region.”

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Caisse Alliance invests in

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Claudette Myre, NOHA president, Nathalie Rainville, Initiation to hockey coordinator for Markstay-Warren, Cynthia Guindon, Verner Bulls trainer and board secretary, Julie Armitage, Board chair of the Caisse Alliance, Stephane Methot, Caisse populaire Alliance Verner General Manager, Laurent Renaud, West Nipissing Sting Vice President, and Mike O’Connor, Verner Bulls President  pose for a picture alongside local hockey players, the Verner Bull mascot and the Caisse’s Cachou mascot, as the Caisse Alliance presented the local minor hockey associations with a $10,000 donation. The donation will go towards an “Initiation to Hockey Program”.

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