Las Vegas Sun

November 22, 2018

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Golden Knights introduce new level in their youth development program

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Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland autographs sticks during the team’s street hockey clinic Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at the Walnut Recreation Center.

VGK Youth Street Hockey Clinic

Deryk Engelland of the Vegas Golden Knights signs a hockey stick for 16 year-old Kaden Reynolds during a VGKs youth hockey outreach program at the Walnut Recreation Center, Tuesday July 10, 2018. Launch slideshow »

The Golden Knights have added another step in their youth hockey programs to continue building the sport in Southern Nevada.

The newest program is called the “Lil’ Knights Cross Ice Program” and will serve as a bridge for kids graduating from the “Learn to Play” before they move onto house hockey leagues and eventually the Junior Golden Knights travel team.

Like the other steps in the youth hockey program, Lil’ Knights will be available at three rinks in town — City National Arena, Las Vegas Ice Center and Sobe Ice Arena in the Fiesta Rancho.

“We’re in the business of hockey, and we are in the business of developing this great game,” Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz said. “We have multiple steps in our development process.”

Children start with an eight-week Learn to Skate class followed by Learn to Play. In that program kids learn the individual skills like passing and shooting the puck. Knowledge of team strategy, line changes and other intricacies to be truly ready to play in games is what Lil’ Knights will teach them, team officials said.

Many children have been entering league games without the required skills, struggle mightily, and are turned off from the sport because of it. The Golden Knights hope Lil’ Knights will drastically decrease that from happening.

The Lil’ Knights program itself will have three tiers, and children will have to pass each one by the end of the course to be eligible to sign up for recreational or travel teams.

The D Las Vegas and chief executive officer Derek Stevens entered into an agreement with the Golden Knights to help fund the program for the first five years of its existence. As part of the agreement Stevens and The D will provide all participants with jerseys.

“To develop a program and to allow these guys to go out and get some of the best coaches in North America, we thought it made sense to make a long term commitment,” Stevens said. “It’s not really fair to make a one-time donation and then leave them on their own, so we’re committed to doing this.”

The first eight-week course begins Aug. 8 and costs $265. You can find more information and sign up here.

Jesse Granger can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Jesse on Twitter at twitter.com/JesseGranger_.