Some 300 hockey-loving Saint Johners will get to enjoy the rest of their planned summer ice time for free.

In collaboration with the board of the Lord Beaverbrook Rink and thanks to private sponsors, the arrangement will see youth hockey programs at the Peter Murray Arena benefit from no-cost ice time through the remainder of July and all of August.

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That is about 80 hours of ice time in total.

“We’ve actually been able to obtain ten hours a week of donated ice,” said Sean Hall, president of Saint John Youth Minor Hockey.

Hall says the time will go to community hockey players up to 18-years-old, with some of the hours specifically designated to girl’s hockey.

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“We’ve covered all backgrounds: those who play hockey often and those who may not,” he said.

“We’ll have some active kids over the summertime playing our favourite game, which is hockey.”

The City of Saint John saw one of its rinks close in 2020, while many recreation programs were down due to the pandemic.

At Sunday’s launch of the free ice program, Mayor Donna Reardon said that closure allowed for city staff to focus funding and resources on making things like this possible at what rinks remain.

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“The kids haven’t had any sports basically for a year and a half,” said Michael Simon, chairman of the Lord Beaverbrook Rink Board.

“They can work hard, they can make friends, they can play the game — and they can do it for free.”

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Though it was unveiled Sunday, the program has actually been running quietly for a week now.

Hall says he’s happy to see rink time that might otherwise go unused get put to work and is excited to see what the rest of the summer brings.

“Maybe one of these days, one of these kids will make the NHL,” Hall said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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