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Equipment makers giving back to game

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

When hockey parents discuss equipment, it's usually accompanied by a grumble about high prices.

But corporations and retailers announced a big investment in the game during the weekend, to help it grow and insure the future health of their business.

After years of disagreement on how they could best put something back into the game, the industry leaders unveiled the OneGoal Foundation, a three-year, $3 million US grassroots development plan, backed by the National Hockey League and its Players Association.

OneGoal, announced yesterday in Boston, hopes to increase North American youth enrollment, particularly the four to eight-year-old range, by 15%, with an eye to a similar program in Europe.

"This is the greatest team effort ever assembled," Mike Whan, CEO of Mission I-Tech Hockey and chairman of the non-profit OneGoal Foundation committee. "Everyone has invested a lot, both financially and emotionally."

Mission I-Tech is being joined by partners such as The Hockey Company, Bauer-Nike, TPS and an umbrella group called the International Hockey Industry Association. Among the highlights for kids will be three to five ice sessions at a cost of less than $50. Equipment such as shin pads, elbow pads and non-curved sticks will be supplied. Details will soon be available at the OneGoal.org web site and through retailers, who also will be offering membership and discount cards.

"OneGoal is a great initiative and we look forward to being a part of it in the future," said Mike Gartner, director of business relations for the NHLPA.


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