In this case, what happened in Las Vegas didn't stay in Las Vegas. Here are some of the highlights of what HDA Co-managing directors Chuck Suritz and Marty Maciaszek heard and saw from our two days at the 15th annual Let's Play Hockey and Lacrosse International Expo in mid-October:
Herb Brooks Grow Hockey Summit
One of the most important events occurred the Monday before the start of the show with the Herb Brooks Foundation Grow Hockey Summit. Nearly 20 people associated with hockey, including Chuck Suritz, were part of a two-hour panel discussion about ways to increase youth participation in the sport. A lot of the initiatives being used by leagues and organizations from the professional to youth levels, as well as other groups, were shared.
One of the key areas of emphasis by USA Hockey, according to manager for program services Kevin Erlenbach, is to focus on the players and parents from the 4- to 8-year-old age level because half of the entry-level players leave the sport by age 9. USA Hockey has an extensive marketing program in place which focuses on retaining current players, acquiring new ones and converting those who do try the sport into a youth program.
Suritz stressed the need for and importance of cooperation and collaboration from everyone at the summit to use the various ideas to enhance participation. If you are doing something such as hosting an event at your store or getting involved in some way with hockey in your community, please send us some information about it to send us an email and we'll share that with everyone.
John Connelly, the Director of Development for the National Sports Center in Minnesota, who is involved in the Herb Brooks Foundation and the Schwan's Super Rink, put it best when he said, "Herbie had a vision that if we had more and more players the game would get better." And that's better for everyone in the hockey business.
Also on Monday, Graf held a demo skate night at the Sobe Ice Arena in Las Vegas. Show attendees got the chance to lace 'em up, get out on the ice and take some of their best shots alongside three-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux.
From the Expo Floor
We were at the first day of the show walking the floor, checking out some of the products and talking with exhibitors and HDA members. Here are a few of the interesting things we came across:
With all of the attention focused on concussions, the Shockbox Impact Alert Sensor could be a vital tool for any hockey player. The sensor is attached to the top of the hockey helmet and when a player sustains an at-risk hit which could result in a concussion, an immediate visual alert is transmitted via Bluetooth to a smartphone. All of the data is recorded and the sensor is attached with a high-bonding adhesive tape which can be removed and attached to a different helmet. For more information click here.
Mouth guards are also a vital protection device and we saw some of the latest technology from different manufacturers. SISU has developed a mouth guard where users can leave it in and still talk, drink and breathe with little difficulty. Check it out by clicking here.
The TotalGard Lacrosse/Hockey Mouthguard is billed as "the easiest mouthguard to use ever." They offer three sizes in nine different colors and it can be used by athletes with our without braces. For more details click here.
One of the big issues for players is keeping their equipment from turning into an unwanted science experiment. SportSense is a spray which eliminates odor-causing bacteria by providing a microbial protective coating for up to 90 days. It was developed by an infection prevention and control medical device company in Minnesota and more information is available by clicking here.
One of the products that looks like a lot of fun is the SuperDeker, an interactive game on a 10-by-5 foot surface that can be used for skill enhancement or promotional purposes. The SuperDeker can be quickly put together and taken apart and can be stored in a travel bag. Check it out by clicking here.
We also saw booths featuring sticks, skates, skate-sharpening equipment, helmet designs, nets and other hockey-related products along with a few booths featuring lacrosse equipment.