New Canadians get free taste of our game

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:45 PM ET

The Arborg Ice Dawgs have found a way to introduce Canada’s favourite pastime to newcomers in the community.

On Friday, the Ice Dawgs, who lead the Keystone Junior B Hockey League with a record of 8-1, are offering free tickets to new Canadians for their home game against the Lundar Falcons.

Puck drop is set for 8:15 p.m.

Last year’s inaugural new Canadians game saw people from Mexico, South America and Asia attend their first hockey game.

“This area has a lot of people who are new to the area and new to the country, really from all over the world,” said Jerry Maryniuk, who is the president and general manager of the Ice Dawgs and the individual who originally came up with the idea. “Hockey is something they’ve never seen before and they like it. To see them enjoying something (like hockey) gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling, knowing you are helping them to feel welcome in this country we call Canada.

“I don’t know how many of them come back (to the rink), but a lot of them do.”

Maryniuk said the Ice Dawgs draw roughly 400 fans per game on the weekend and that the new Canadians promotion brought in an extra 50 or so.

Aside from exposing the game to a broader fan base, Maryniuk said there are some far-reaching benefits stemming from the program.

“The end result is that some of them start coming back to the arena and before you know it, they’re enrolling their kids in minor hockey here,” said Maryniuk. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Fans hoping to enjoy the promotions are asked to stop by one of three places to pick up their tickets in advance: the Arborg/Riverton Immigration office (at the town office), the Arborg Chicken Chef or the Arborg Friendship Centre.

As for what constitutes a new Canadian, Maryniuk says there’s a little room to negotiate.

“We’re not real hard and fast on the rules,” he said. “If you’ve been here for six or seven years and consider yourself a new Canadian, by all means, you’re eligible. We’re not going to turn anybody away. We’re pretty generous with that part of it.

“If somebody said they’d been here for 20 years and had never been to a hockey game and wanted to take advantage of this, we’d let them in for free.”


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