“It changed everything,” Pearce said of the partnership with the Predators. “Our ability to get kids to be better skaters, keep the equipment … it’s the greatest thing. Just having that tie-in with the NHL gives the kids a vision that [they] can get there someday.”
The club has an impressive online Spirit Wear Store, with hats, beanies, sweatshirts and other merchandise families and fans can purchase to show their Ice Cardinals pride.
“It was something everybody wanted,” explained Amanda Skinger, who created the store last year and serves as its spirit wear coordinator. “When you walk into a rink for a tournament or game, everybody wants to represent. People are very proud to show where they come from.”
Recently, the KAIHA board unanimously approved new uniforms for the Ice Cardinals. Under an agreement with the University of Louisville, the club will wear jerseys identical to the school’s ACHA Division II men’s hockey team. This has given the Ice Cardinals an additional marketing boost, according to Skinger.
“To have that logo benefits both the university and our program, because it’s easy to recognize,” said Skinger, whose son Henry plays for the 16U travel team. “The general consensus is people are really excited about it.”
The program is firmly committed to USA Hockey’s American Development Model and its concepts. Pearce is as passionate about ADM as anyone in the sport.
“We do everything we can with ADM,” he said. “We’re a young association, and we have growing pains. But we’ve also done some things right. We’ve attached ourselves to the model. With all the work and energy USA Hockey [has put into it], why wouldn’t we?”
Safety during the coronavirus pandemic is a top priority to hockey programs around the country, and the Ice Cardinals are no exception. The club shut down in March, when the NHL announced their stoppage. The Iceland Sports Complex, the Ice Cardinals’ home rink, put together a comprehensive plan for a gradual re-opening. Tryouts are underway for some teams, and Learn to Play sessions are being scheduled later this summer.
Pearce doesn’t believe the pandemic will slow down the enthusiasm for hockey his program has worked so hard to build.
“It’s the coolest game on earth,” Pearce said. “I believe the enjoyment of sports is going to hopefully resurrect this country as a whole. If we look back at this five years from now and ask, ‘What did it,’ I hope it’s that sports came back and allowed us to get back as close to normal as we can.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.