learn to play

Tyler Cox of Edmond learns to play hockey at a recent Dallas Stars Learn to Play program at Arctic Edge Ice Arena.

When you think about getting your kids involved in beginner sports, in Edmond you have a variety of activities. From soccer to flag football, and gymnastics to T-ball — there’s plenty in Edmond to try.

But have you ever thought about hockey?

I had thought about it. As a former competitive figure skater with a national collegiate championship title to my name, I grew up around an ice rink. My brother played hockey, but this “other” skating sport seemed intimidating to approach as a parent, even though my son had expressed some interest.

That’s when I learned that Edmond’s Arctic Edge Ice Arena provides a beginner program that competes with all the rest. The Dallas Stars Learn to Play program is focused on getting your son or daughter to fall in love with hockey.

The best part? Don’t let the cost and hassle of getting all the gear and skates keep you from trying. The Learn to Play program generously provides brand-new equipment — including skates — to the players, as well as six practices, for $125. The price of skates alone and the ice time would be worth that and more.

Michael McEwen wants you to consider hockey. He oversees the youth hockey programs at Arctic Edge, and he’s got the experience to offer your child, including 20 years as a pro-hockey player. Twelve of those years he spent with the NHL New York Islanders, helping them win three of their Stanley Cup Championships. He also coached the Oklahoma City Blazers during some of their most successful seasons.

“Hockey is a great sport for your child. If you have the puck, you’re the quarterback,” McEwen said. “Hockey fits any size, any personality.”

What it really comes down to, he says, is skating skills. That’s why he encourages kids in the Learn to Play program to skate extra times during the week. For my own son, that’s made the difference between being comfortable and being confident on the ice.

For the first time, my son — who some might say is small for his age — can be a standout player. 

McEwen had a meeting with the parents this past Saturday, after my son’s fourth official practice. He explained some of the basic principles of the sport and explained the equipment to us novices. He also talked about Arctic Edge’s house leagues.

He explained that about 370 children play hockey in the Oklahoma City Youth Hockey Association (OKCYHA), compared with Dallas, which has thousands. However, the OKCYHA has had five players receive Division 1 college scholarships. One of those players, Matt Donovan, has played in the NHL.

“This is a great sport and a lot of fun to play,” he added. 

The Learn to Play program takes place four times a year in Oklahoma City — once in the spring and fall at Arctic Edge, and once in the spring and fall at Blazers Ice Center in Oklahoma City. To learn more, visit arctic-edge.com or learntoplay.nhl.com/stars.