One hundred local children ages 4-8 may get the chance of a lifetime next year. The Lil’ Oilers learn to play program will be expanding into Grande Prairie in February 2019, offering free equipment and ice time to those who want to learn the game.
Instructor and Edmonton Oilers alumni Colin Fraser says the program was designed to get kids interested in Canada’s national sport.
“It’s a great opportunity for kids to get involved in hockey that maybe don’t have the background in hockey or maybe they’re a family from another country or maybe they can’t afford the start-up costs. It gives everybody the opportunity to enjoy the game we all love.”
The program started three years ago and each team in the National Hockey League runs one. Fraser guesses that thousands of kids who may never have been able to afford to play have been able to hit the ice since then. Every child who applies will be entered into a lottery to decide which 100 will get to participate.
The 100 who are chosen will receive all the gear they need plus six on-ice training sessions with Oilers alumni and Hockey Alberta instructors. As a three-time Stanley Cup winner, Fraser sees the program as a way to help these young players in the same way he was helped growing up.
“The hope is to create the passion and the love of hockey. For me, I was fortunate to have played my entire life and then play in the NHL and now to give back to the kids is great. I think they can have just as much fun as I had when I was a young lad.”
Applications opened on November 1st and will be accepted on the Oilers website until November 30th.