Coyotes’ Give Back With Grant To Prep Hockey League, Teams - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Coyotes’ Give Back With Grant To Prep Hockey League, Teams

January 18th, 2019 SanTan Sun News
Coyotes’ Give Back With Grant To Prep Hockey League, Teams
Sports and Recreation

By Carson Roberts

Contributing Writer

Hockey in the desert. It’s one of the coldest sports in the world now played in one of the hottest places on the planet.

The National Hockey League has followed in the footsteps of its professional-sports brethren and expanded into new markets in the U.S. from its traditional base in Canada and the U.S. northeast.

Noting the continuing challenge of building popularity since they came to metro Phoenix in the 1990s, the Arizona Coyotes asked the league for a grant to expand their reach into Scottsdale and the East Valley in the Arizona High School Hockey Association.

“Through the Industry Growth Fund, we were awarded – for high school hockey-league sponsorship, pretty much – $225,000 a year for three years,” said Matt Shott, Arizona Coyotes Director of Amateur Hockey Development. “They got it last year, they get it this year and they’ll get it next year.”

They could get it even longer. Shott, who is on AHSHA’s Executive and Planning Committees, added that the Coyotes intend to apply to renew the grant when the current one expires.

Before the grant, the Coyotes would help AHSHA as they could but without the proper funding it was limited to “little bits of help here and there,” according to Shott. The Coyotes provided AHSHA Premier and All-Star teams with jerseys, donated to Team Arizona and hosted the league’s all-star game.

AHSHA Premier and Arizona Showcase, which is the league’s all-star squad, both travel outside of Arizona for competitions. AHSHA Premier director Tait Green said that exposure inspired the league to explore a relationship with the Coyotes.

“With our Premier program and with our Showcase program, we were able to see how teams in other regions and other areas were able to interact with their respective NHL teams,” said Green. “One of the teams that we talked to a lot was Anaheim.”

The Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League debuted in 2008. During the past decade, the league grew to 46 teams, expanding across three states and two Canadian provinces, according to the team’s official website.

The successful league intrigued many in the Valley hockey community as well as the NHL.

“It’s based on what the Ducks did. The Ducks’ high school league, that’s where Tampa Bay got their idea from, that’s where (Los Angeles) branched off from,” Shott said. “The Ducks did it right and made it possible.”

Among the more visible aspects of the Coyotes’ involvement with the Arizona High School Hockey Association was providing a league-wide uniform makeover.

In the agreement between the Coyotes and AHSHA, each team received a uniform template based on the Coyotes’ uniforms. The template allowed the Valley’s high schools to retain their own colors and logos while bearing a resemblance to Coyotes’ uniforms.

Players appreciated the uniforms and parents appreciated the Coyotes’ donation. Hamilton, for example, charged players the typical $1,600 AHSHA fee and an additional fee for uniforms and gear.

The Coyotes’ sponsorship softened some of those charges.

“Because of their donation, we went from having to charge parents an extra $300 down to $25,” Hamilton Huskies team manager Kelti Manning said.

The Coyotes, AHSHA, its teams and players all seem to have benefited from the partnership made possible by the NHL.

“My kids, in their words, said, ‘These uniforms are sick,’” Manning said. “They loved it. They loved the new look of them.”