“I’m a firm believer in town hockey programs, and most of these kids will be together on middle school or high school teams,” said Bradley. “The alternative player program gives them a chance to play hockey with their buddies, get some extra coaching and more ice time.”
The Blades ‘Leave No Skater Behind’ philosophy is designed to make sure no youngster who begins skating later than his friends will be left out. They’ll be able to catch up to their peers who’ve been playing hockey since a very young age.
“Some kids feel they can’t get started in hockey at age nine or 10, but we’ll make it work through extra coaching for those that want to jump in when they’re older,” said Bradley. “Waivers from the league will allow those kids to stay at a younger level until their skills improve enough to move up.
“Our goal is to bring more players back into their town league and get some new members out for hockey. We also want to build a deeper partnership with the middle school and high school programs (in Salem and Swampscott). We’ll also have equipment swaps to help with the costs and make youth hockey affordable.”
Naturally, the Blades are hoping these innovative programs that have been put in will breathe new life into the program.
“My daughter Willa is the only girl playing on the Squirts, and she loves the dry land program,” said Bradley, who has also helped out as an assistant hockey coach at the younger levels. “We all know ice time is very expensive, and our idea is to get the kids in shape before they get on the ice. They love to play street hockey, and it’s a great way to improve both fitness and hockey skills.”
The Blades have rolling registration that has already started. People can learn more about the alternate player program online at bladeshockey.pucksystems2.com.