Avalanche continues to grow, build the game with CAHA youth
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As part of the local hockey community, the players from the Colorado Avalanche are held as role models for Colorado’s growing number of youth players.
And in recent years, the NHL organization, which celebrated its 20th season in Denver during the 2015-16 season, has taken great strides with the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA), working with member teams on numerous projects to keep the game on an upward swing.
“During my 10 seasons here, I’ve seen the partnership grow and our goal is to have one of the top relationships in the league,” said Avalanche manager of amateur hockey sales Jason Schofield. “There are a lot of NHL clubs that do a lot of great things, but Colorado is unique. CAHA is run by a great group of people that care and have been around a long time. They really put their talents to use for the hockey community. Partnering with them over the last 10 years has been a privilege and every year the partnership just seems to keep growing and growing.”
CAHA president Randy Kanai has been impressed with everything the Avalanche does to help promote the game that maybe the casual fan doesn’t see.
“We have focused on initiatives to ultimately grow amateur hockey in Colorado and provide value to the hockey clubs in Colorado,” said Kanai. “We jointly set out on a strategy a few years ago to build the foundation to tighten the relationship between CAHA member clubs and the Avs along with adding value and fundraising. The Avs sponsor most CAHA clubs’ websites in the state, they sponsor meeting space for CAHA, they sponsor state tournament ice and venue and they provide the venue to operate raffles for fundraising. There is mutual benefit from the relationship with the Avs and we share the ultimate goal of increasing the number of people that enjoy the game of hockey in Colorado.”
Coming up, CAHA and the Avs are partnering on a grant program targeted at growing the game initiatives by CAHA clubs and the Avs, working in partnership with the NHL, are sponsoring “Learn to Play” programs and other entry-level programs such as floor hockey in the local schools.
Schofield said there are many more initiatives in place and he “could talk for hours about those.”
Every season, the Avalanche sponsor the winning team in the Quebec Qualifier, a tournament whose winner represents the state and the Avs at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. The youth teams wears Avalanche jerseys at the event (pictured).
Kanai said the Avs are proactive when it comes to seeking new ways to keep the game growing.
“The Avs reach out directly to the teams and organizations in a number of ways, with the Quebec Qualifier being one of them,” said Kanai. “In addition, they are currently in a campaign reaching out to all the CAHA clubs to discuss how the Avs can work more closely with each club to help grow the game and interest in hockey – how to expose the game to those that may have never thought about hockey. We have our sights set on expanding the CAHA State Tournament, increased fundraising, new and/or increased engagement with the Avs assets such as NHL alumni events, mascots, things like that. The two largely untapped segments prime for significant growth are girls hockey and adaptive hockey.”
“We want to be the biggest supporters we can be for the local hockey community” added Schofield. “At the end of the day, the kids that are playing on the ice, the families that are at the rinks, we’re all one hockey community.”
— Matt Mackinder