July 24, 2019, Staff Report
“Learn to Play,” an NHL-sponsored program that provides affordable hockey lessons and equipment to kids ages 5 to 8, has opened registration for locally-hosted sessions.
Classes will be hosted at LIC-ICE, an indoor ice skating facility located at 10-12 46th Rd. There, weekly sessions will take place in August and during the fall.
The program is part of an initiative where the New York Islanders, NHL and NHL Player’s Association team up annually to help young boys and girls learn about hockey. The initiative’s goals are to attract more children to the sport, while also teaching them about fitness and teamwork.
“We will size them up and give them skates, helmets and pads—all the equipment—from head to toe,” said Lucia Grosek, who manages LIC-ICE.
This will be the third year in a row that the local venue hosts these sessions in its boutique setting, which allows for up to 10 children per lesson.
Children who register will receive eight weekly lessons by New York Islanders-affiliated coaches with drop-in sessions featuring Islanders alumni.
Suitable hockey equipment will also be provided to kids in the program, which they will be allowed to keep and take home after their eight sessions have ended.
“Learn to Play has also seen an even split of girls and boys register in the past,” said Grosek. “It’s a tradition we hope to keep alive in Long Island City.”
Advanced registration is required for the program, with early enrollment encouraged because of the high demand that LIC-ICE has seen in the past.
Registration is priced at $225 for the upcoming August sessions, and at $250 for the fall.
Grosek said these affordable rates are a fraction of what other venues and different programs may charge in New York.
“The cost of hockey in New York is very expensive,” Grosek said. “The equipment alone costs $450, and then there are few rinks that are available so playing time can be costly.”
There are 130 spots open for the fall program, with shrinking availability for classes in August.
LIC-ICE has seen 280 kids graduate from Learn to Play, with nearly all of the children continuing to enjoy the game today, Grosek said.
The indoor ice-skating facility opened at the beginning of 2016, and has since attracted hockey fans of all ages and experience levels from the tri-state area.
“We have kids coming here from as far as Westchester, Long Island, Connecticut and from every borough, including many ethnicities and backgrounds,” Grosek said. “We want everyone to feel welcome.”
Registration and more information on the Learn to Play program can be found at the following link: https://learntoplay.nhl.com/islanders
Readers can learn more about LIC-ICE and its facilities here: http://www.licice.com