Young skaters enjoy prosperous hockey season

10 years ago

The Southern Aroostook Minor Hockey Association started its year off with a bang — with a whole crew of new board members and a great deal of work to be done.
The season kicked off with a Speed Skating Clinic, which was offered to all teams — Mites to Bantams. Dave Mumford, Mitchell Holmes and his son, Logan (a former Houlton Black Hawk) led the clinic. The clinic not only benefited the skaters, it also benefited the Millar Civic Center by bringing in $1,300 the very first weekend they were open.

The board continued to keep momentum by organizing a “Try Hockey for Free” day. The event was advertised in the school, on the radio and in the newspaper.
“We utilized all board members, parent volunteers and the entire Bantams hockey team to run this event as smoothly as possible,” said Darcy Lorom, SAMHA spokesperson. “We had no idea what to expect for numbers as in the past the event did not bring in numbers to speak of. Well, all that hard work paid off as we were bombarded with the largest turnout we have ever seen since we began hosting this event! There were close to 40 kids and their parents who took part. It was incredible!”
The Bantams players stepped up, helping each child gear up and participate on the ice.
“It was a proud moment watching them give back and help make the event successful,” Lorom said. “That event also helped us gain many new players.”
Prior to putting on this event, the board was fortunate enough to acquire WHOU 100.1 FM as a corporate sponsor.
“Fred Grant and his team at WHOU were absolutely wonderful in helping us create ads to promote events and thank all of our other sponsors,” she said. “Their mission is always to support the youth in the community and they truly went above and beyond in supporting SAMHA and in turn supporting the Civic Center and the Houlton Black Hawks High School Hockey Team.”
The next mission as a board was to acquire sponsors for each of the teams.
“Our sponsors are so appreciated as they keep costs down so this sport can be enjoyed by many,” she said. “We can not thank them enough and we thrilled to be able to achieve a sponsor for each team.”
Each year SAMHA also offers a “Learn to Skate” program, which historically has not been very well attended. The group knew it had to do something different to attract skaters and their parents so they changed up the price and the commitment.
“We offered “sessions” through out the winter as opposed to offering one payment for the entire season,” Lorom said. “This set up created a very positive response generating 49 skaters for our first session! The response continued to be large each session with many new and returning kids. Three sessions were offered in all and will continue to be for the upcoming season.
“For a program like this to be successful, we also knew we had to have the right people leading it,” she continued. “We were lucky enough to have the Grant family (Wes, Monique, Madison and Morgan) step up and we also had many older players give back by helping with the large number of kids. The Grants have agreed to continue on for next season and we are lucky to have them.  Many Learn to Skaters transferred to our Mites program by the end of the third session, which was terrific as we are continuing to build numbers from the lower levels up through.”
Another addition to the season, was incorporating the inaugural “Bill Weber Welcome Back Weekend.”
“We knew we had to give a name to a weekend that encompassed a great deal of hockey activity and agreed that Bill Weber was who we wanted to remember and recognize,” Lorom said. “The weekend surpassed all of our expectations with a whole house of skaters taking advantage of free skating, the incredible turn out for “try hockey for free”, a bantams hockey game which was lucky enough to gain Andrew Mooers as an announcer and little Eli Weber as the official puck dropper to start the game.  All in all it was awesome and the Bill Weber Welcome Back Weekend will continue to be a tradition.”
Aside from these events and accomplishments, the board pressed on all season (and even before the season officially started) with numerous fundraising events. They began during Midnight Madness by hosting a dunk tank utilizing hockey players and a few other local favorites. There was also a puck shooting station with prizes, desserts and water.
“The event was such a success we plan to be there again this summer,” Lorom said.
Other fundraising efforts, which were headed up by Serenna Fitzpatrick, included car washes, bottle drives, a harvest festival, candy sales, and raffle tickets.
“We had a prior year deficit of about $5,000 that we had to cover,” said SAMHA president Misty Marino. “We spent almost $5,000 on tournaments for the various teams we had. We provided in-house scholarships for families that otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate. Next year we want to focus on offering monthly power-skating clinics and potentially goalie clinics. We have not been able to offer some of the “extra’s” that say Woodstock can offer because we didn’t have the financial means.  We really want to focus on that and growing our Mites program for next year.”
The last event that SAMHA participated in was titled “Future Black Hawks Day.”
“This event is held at one of our Black Hawks high school hockey games and this year we really tried to step it up and make it the most memorable yet,” Lorom said. “The kids all had their faces painted to support the team and wore their home jerseys. Prior to the game starting, all of our players paraded around the arena.”
They also held a “Spirit Contest” – the winner was chosen based on their poster. The Houlton High School band and cheerleaders also attended making the atmosphere even more electric. WHOU conducted a live stream of the game and they also interviewed Misty Marino (SAMHA president) on the next big fund-raising effort, which will aim at growing our Mites program.
“The event truly pulled together SAMHA, the high school team and the community which is exactly where our focus needs to continue,” Lorom said. “SAMHA is on the move and will continue to strive to provide more cost effective opportunities for the youth in our community.”
For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page or go to