The ripping sounds of Velcro on hockey pads echoed across the World Arena’s rink as boys and girls ages 4 to 9,  geared up for a free, hour-long hockey clinic sponsored by USA Hockey Saturday.

First-timers wobbled cautiously onto the ice, and USA Hockey certified coaches with outstretched arms worked to catch them before their sticks slapped the ground.

But 5-year old Carson pushed a puck around expertly. He’s been on and off the ice since he was 3, said his father, Rick Greene of Colorado Springs, who lets Carson attend the hockey lessons he gives at Colorado College’s Honnen Ice Arena every Saturday. He brought Carson to see if he’d listen to a coach other than Dad.

After coaching for 25 years, Greene said he knows just about everyone in the Colorado Springs hockey scene, which he said has grown tremendously over the years.

Growing up, Green said that he and his two brothers were the only ones in grade school that played the sport.  “Now you to go to any grade school in town, and you’re going to find hockey players,” he said.

Mike Starkey originally from Florida, said he got word of the event from a school flyer.
“It’s just a really excellent way to get kids introduced to the sport of hockey,” said Starkey, who brought his daughter, Erin. For him, trying the sport without all the associated costs makes all the difference, especially when introducing kids to something new.

Erin, 9,  sat on a rink divider pad observing the other girls in her group, her, pink leggings peaking out from under her hockey pads and her blonde hair sticking out from the back of her helmet.  
“She’s not feeling very courageous today,” explained Starkey. “Exposing her to something like this is so good. The more I expose her to things, the more likely she is to find a niche.”

More than 70 kids including Erin, came to clinic,  and slid, skated and fell, getting acquainted with the sport, as parents snapped pictures and cheered them on from outside the rink.

The free clinic, part of USA Hockey’s second annual Come Play Hockey Month, was hosted by the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association. The Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association will also being hosting two additional Try Hockey Free events this month, giving little “benders” time on the ice.