Sno-Kings Ice Arena

Discovering Community and Confectionery Delights at Sno-King Ice Arenas in Kirkland, WA

I recently visited the Kirkland, WA location of my new customer Sno-King Ice Arenas. They have three locations in WA.

They offer learn to skate and learn to play hockey programs. They are truly a community rink. The Kirkland location is in a mall, which is interesting. There were lots of food options for parents waiting during practices. Factory Donuts next door was a big hit with the kids and parents. I did try the glazed donuts and they were amazing.

Sno-King does a great job at advertising their programs. Lots of flyers were at the entrance listing camps and classes available.

The facility was clean and inviting. Lots of parents were there the day I visited as there as a figure skating competition taking place.

Ice arenas can do so much with marketing and social media to remind parents of all the different programs being offered. Sno-King is a great example of a community rink that brings the community together.

Sno-Kings Ice Arena

City of Toronto’s Skate Lending Library in partnership with Desjardins Financial Group.

Skate Helper Partners with Desjardins Financial Group for Toronto’s Skate Lending Library Initiative

Skate Helper is thrilled to be part of the City of Toronto’s Skate Lending Library in partnership with Desjardins Financial Group.

City of Toronto’s Skate Lending Library in partnership with Desjardins Financial Group.

The City of Toronto’s Skate Lending Library, in partnership with Desjardins Financial Group, brings free ice skates and helmet rentals to outdoor rinks in Toronto. Whether you’re taking your first glide on the ice or a seasoned professional, we’re aiming to make skating accessible to all.

Skate lending library locations also have skate aids for use that help with balancing on the ice while learning how to skate.

Desjardins Lending Skate Library

Read the CBC article on the Desjardins Skate Lending Library

Printscape Arena

Black Bear Sports Group

Black Bear Sports Group owns, manages and operates twenty-five ice rinks and, where applicable, their affiliated teams, in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware.

Many of these ice arenas offer the Skate Helper to their customers.  The Printscape Ice Arena in Canonsburg, PA offers many programs including public skates, summer camps, birthday parties, and corporate events. Check out their website and program listings

Unique events include Paint the Ice Night for the community held on April 11th.

Printscape Arena at Southpointe will be hosting Paint the Ice Night for the community. Paintbrushes and paint will be included.
Pre-sale tickets will be $5 a person, day of event will be $7 a person. With the purchase of each ticket for Paint the Ice Night you will receive a voucher that is valid for a FREE kids admission when you purchase an adult admission (Valid for public skate session on a future day).
Admission will be free for kids age 2 and under. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult 18 and older.

*No one will be wearing skates for this event, it is not an ice-skating event, just painting of the ice.

Skate Helper is proud to have Printscape Arena as a customer and looks forward to working with them in the future.

Stay Safe and Be Kind

Here’s to Happy Days ahead!

From Heather at Skate Helper.

Marketing Boot Camp

The Power Of Digital Media And Your Business

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. It’s April 2021 and I really hope ice arenas all over the world can start planning for a full reopening in the 2021/2022 winter skating season.
It’s been a long road for sure and here at Skate Helper we have been hit hard but are continuing to plan for the future.

I had some extra time on my hands and decided to take an eight-week digital marketing boot camp. I learned so much in those eight weeks and I highly recommend getting some digital marketing training so you understand it and how it can really help your

Below are the top 10 tips I learned from this boot camp.

  1. Make sure your content looks good on a phone. Most people use their phone to look up hours, reserve a spot, look at other services your arena may offer.
  2. Review your website and picture gallery a couple of times a year or more. Review the content you are providing.
  3. Update new programs or any other new service you offer. Your website represents your brand identity.
  4. Know your Personas. A persona is your ideal customer. Speak to them. Who are they? Where do they live? What social media platforms do they hang out on? Are they on Facebook or Instagram? Where can you connect with them?
  5. Invest in a professional digital marketing consultant. Have them review all your marketing and advertising.
  6. A professional can review your marketing and they can make sure your branding is consistent and represents who you are and what your brand is all about.
  7. Be authentic and natural. What are your company values? What initiatives does your ice arena do in the community? In many small communities, the ice arena is the focal point for families and kids. Where they learn to skate, where there are events held or what’s happening right now – the local arena is a covid testing site or covid vaccination site.
  8. You don’t have to be everywhere on social media. Take a hard look at how you acquire customers. Do they become advocates for your brand? What makes your ice arena stand apart from other arenas. Is it the programs you offer, the facility itself, or outstanding customer service? Really think about what makes your ice arena the choice for families and kids and hockey teams.
  9. Remember you can repurpose digital content. Work with a digital marketer and plan out a calendar of what information you want to market or advertise. Is the summertime to promote ice skating birthday parties? What about summer camps? When do you start registering for hockey or figure skating sessions? How about booking rec hockey leagues or corporate events? If you schedule everything out and pre-plan you then have new information that your customers are looking for.
  10. The power of branding is so important. It might make sense to hire a professional to not only review your branding but refresh it. Where is your name and logo? Does it look old and tired?

After completing the digital marketing boot camp I have revised my website. I am going to plan and schedule email marketing campaigns and will mail brochures to ice arenas in Canada and the US.

Wishing you all great success in the future. We are almost at the finish line.

Stay Safe

Heather from Skate Helper

Chicago Blackhawks Dressing Room

Trip to Chicago and Visit to the Fifth Third Arena


Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. In January 2020, I had the pleasure of visiting the Fifth Third Arena in Chicago to see the First Stride program in action.

We shot a video testimonial at the rink on January 9th.  After the shoot, Annie and Andrea who work for the Blackhawks gave us a tour of the Fifth Third Arena where the Blackhawks practice.

What an amazing facility. We saw the player dressing room with everything laid out for them. We saw their dryland training area. The equipment room where everything is stocked. The repair area where skates and other equipment can be repaired.

The players are really well taken care of. There is a chef’s kitchen where high-end nutritious meals are prepared. A video lounge where players can hang out and relax. It felt like a home away from home. Every detail had been thought of to make the players feel comfortable. It really is an inviting space and really well designed.

Chicago Blackhawks Visit

Afterwards, Annie invited us over to the United Center to check out the sports shop and have lunch. She also gave us tickets for the game that night.

Chicago loves their Blackhawks and they are the best sports fans I’ve ever seen. The energy in the building was electric and it was just a regular season game. It was very memorable too because it was the game that the goalie Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators scored a goal.

We decided to stay for the weekend and explore Chicago. We ate at some really good restaurants. Everything we ate in Chicago tasted great. The shopping on Michigan Avenue was excellent and on Saturday night we visited Second City.

Chicago is such a wonderful city and I would recommend a visit for sure. Aside from the iconic sports teams that the city has it offers amazing restaurants and lovely architecture. Chicago is a really good walking city and has wonderful and diverse neighbourhoods to explore.

Now it’s more than a year into the pandemic and that was the last time I was in a crowded arena. My trip to Chicago was a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget.

I want to thank Annie Camins and Andrea Hahn for making my Chicago trip a reality these are two women in leadership positions with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Women Leaders in the NHL

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. With the NHL starting back up I would like to acknowledge all the women working in leadership roles within the NHL.  We are in a new era with Covid-19 and change is happening everywhere. It is time to see more women take on leadership roles in all sports organizations.

Most people don’t realize that on average, there are 46.6 people working in each NHL team’s hockey operations – two of which are women – making the average hockey operations department 96 percent male.

I recently read an article written by Kevin Allen in USA Today and he laid out the different areas in which women have leadership roles within the NHL.

The headline was “Still a long way to go,” but women are gaining ground with new roles in the NHL.

Below highlight a few female leaders making a difference in the NHL.

  1. Hall of Fame player Cammi Granato was hired by the expansion Seattle franchise as the NHL’s first female pro scout.
  2. Hayley Wickenheiser is the Maple Leafs’ assistant director of player development.
  3. Kim Davis (executive vice president, social growth, growth initiatives) and Heidi Browning (chief marketing officer) both hold league senior management positions, reporting directly to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
  4. Sabres owner Kim Pegula also serves as president of the NFL’s Bills and the Sabres.

Women play hockey and understand the game

We must remember that girls and women play hockey and understand the game. Roughly 40% of NHL fans are female. Furthermore, girls and women’s hockey are growing three times faster than the men’s game.

“Before, women didn’t have the experience or it was all about who you already know; now there is more openness to saying, ‘Who is out there who can help our organization be better,’” said Aimee Kimball, the Devils’ director of player and team development. “Now, more women have various experience, whether it’s through education, playing or through other jobs, to put them into a position to influence hockey.” When Kimball was a junior in high school, playing soccer, basketball and softball, she took a psychology course and became fascinated by the brain and how it contributes to an athlete’s success. She has been working with players for 13 years, starting in 2006 with the Penguins. She believes women offer a different perspective.

“I think if it were my 18-year-old, 19-year-old or 20-year-old (self), what kind of support would I think they would need?” she said.


The NHL and NHLPA created a female advisory board in March 2019 to help promote that idea. The committee doles out grant money, and it is having an impact. In 2018, only six of the 31 NHL teams had all-girl youth hockey programs. In 2019, 24 teams have all-girl programs.

The NHL & NHLPA Female Hockey Advisory Committee includes 11 women with varied backgrounds and experiences: Michele Amidon, Annie Camins, Maria Dennis, Mandi Duhamel, Lyndsey Fry, Angela James, Tarasai Karega, Kelsey Koelzer, AJ Mleczko Griswold, Caroline Popilchak, and Kristen Wright. This esteemed group of women has a combined 50-plus years of professional hockey playing experience, 30 years of professional hockey coaching experience, four Olympic medals, and 26 World Championship medals.

I would like to congratulate all the women mentioned and all others working to elevate women in hockey and women in leadership roles within sports organizations.

Skate Helper Video Premiere with The Blackhawks

We invite you to watch and see The Skate Helper in action with the Chicago Blackhawks First Stride program!

Today we are extremely excited to share with you a video that was shot at the Fifth Third Arena in Chicago this past January. You can learn more about my visit to Chicago and filming at the Fifth Third Arena in our previous blog post.

First Stride Program

First Stride Program allows 4th and 5th grade students with floor hockey experience a chance to take the ice! Each week 360 Chicago Public School Students will visit Fifth Third Arena, the new Chicago Blackhawks Community Ice Rink, to further their hockey education on and off the ice.

We are honoured that Skate Helper is part of this incredible program.

Watch the Video


My visit to Fifth Third Arena in Chicago

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. I am so excited to be able to finally share a video on Monday August 3, 2020, that we shot at the Fifth Third Arena in Chicago this past January.

How this project came together

Last year, I reached out to Annie Camins the Senior Executive Director, Fan Development for the Chicago Blackhawks and asked if I could visit the arena to see the First Stride program in action and to shoot a video showing how they use the Skate Helper.

Annie said yes and off I went in January to the windy city. Annie and her team organized everything. They were extremely welcoming and very professional. I quickly realized how progressive the Blackhawks organization is.

I was blown away!

The arena and the First Stride program are first class all the way. Prior to Covid, the First Stride program had 360 Chicago public school students visiting the Fifth Third Arena every week.  The programming for First Stride starts off by welcoming the students to the arena where they are then escorted into the locker room. In the locker room their name is proudly displayed on the cubby along with a First Stride shirt, ice skates and gloves.

After skating the students spend time in the classroom learning a S.T.E.M program. The day I visited, the students they were building robots. The students are also provided a healthy snack and a school bus ride back to school. This is all paid for by the Chicago Blackhawks. This program is so impressive and the kids love it.

First Stride is a progressive community program that engages and inspires local youth. In my opinion, this program should be rolled out to all communities where the NHL has teams.

Chicago sports fans are serious and they really love their teams

I live in Canada and had visited Chicago before but I never had an experience like this. Chicago sports fans are serious and they really love their teams. I was fortunate enough to attend a game at the United Center and it was unlike any other NHL game I’ve been to. I remember the game vividly as Predators goalie Pekka Rinne scored a goal on an empty net. Chicago lost 5-2. Chicago has some of the BEST fans anywhere and the best stadium food. The energy in the building played like a game 7 of the playoffs.


I want to shout out a HUGE thank you to the two women leaders at the Chicago Blackhawks who made the video happen. Annie Camins Senior Executive Director, Fan Development for the Chicago Blackhawks and Andrea Hahn – the General Manager of the Fifth Third Arena – you both are truly trailblazers working in the NHL. Thanks for sharing your positive feedback on the skate helper. I am extremely proud that the Skate Helper is part of this important community initiative.

Inspiration through sport is what First Stride is all about and I think that’s what the Chicago Blackhawks is all about. Get your Hockey Hit this upcoming week! Go Blackhawks!

Let’s Celebrate Canada Day and 4th of July

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper.  I hope you and your families are safe and well.

To my Canadian and American customers

I am looking forward to the reopening of your ice arenas and getting kids and families back on the ice.

If there has ever been a Canada Day and Independence Day to celebrate it’s this one for sure. After all, 2020 hasn’t been a great year for anyone on the planet. Sure, we can still fire up the grill and figure out where to watch fireworks from a distance, but most of us could really use a good celebration with our extended family and friends.


We have so much to be grateful for. Both Canada and the US are two of the most beautiful countries in the world. We share one of the world’s longest, unprotected border. As both countries are focused on past transgressions, I believe we will make positive change. We know we can all be better, kinder more inclusive people.

We are in this together

We can do so much in our own communities. It’s time to participate and get out into your community, say hello to your neighbour and help make the change.  2020 has definitely taught us that we are in this together.  We need one another more than ever before.

Canadians and Americans love the same sports, movies, music and freedoms. We cherish our freedom to choose where to live, where to worship, how to dress, who to love, where to go to school, and where to work. Hopefully, one day soon we will be back travelling freely within our two great nations.

As we celebrate our countries birthdays please take time out to connect with your family, friends, and neighbours in your community.

We are stronger together!  Stay Safe and Be Kind.

Happy Canada Day and Happy 4th of July

From Heather at Skate Helper.


Emergency Preparedness

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper.  I hope you and your families are safe and well.  This week’s blog is about emergency preparedness. Every year people go through some kind of natural disaster and are forever changed. This pandemic has made me realize that I will never take my freedom for granted again. After weeks of isolation so far, it’s been fine. My family is adjusting to home schooling and working from home.  The pandemic is certainly not a disaster in the sense that we still have electricity, we have our home, we have the internet and we have time lots of time.

Emergency Preparedness List

Many of us are spending that time going through old files and papers. Clearing the clutter from our homes.  My friend Terry found an Emergency Preparedness list that I had sent her in 2006.  I got the list from the City of Delta in BC where they had posted their emergency preparedness list broken down into 26 weeks.  This is a handy list and have put it down below. We are living in a time where fire and floods happen regularly and many of us need to be prepared for extreme events like earthquakes, hurricanes or tornados.   Preparing your family for an emergency is an excellent teaching exercise for everyone.

Action to Take


  1. Get a portable container with a lid to use as an emergency kit. A plastic storage bin or garbage can work well, particularly one with wheels. Choose an accessible location for the container near an exit, and label the container. Make sure all family members know what it will be used for and where it is.
  2. Stock your kit with a three-day supply of water and include extra water if you have pets. Each person needs four litres of water a day – two for drinking and two for food preparation and hygiene (wash hands regularly).
  3. Arrange an out-of-area phone contact person, and keep this information and other emergency phone numbers written down carried in a wallet or with your cell phone. Make sure all family members have these numbers. Have phone charge battery and cords.
  4. Stock your kit with several varieties of canned meat and dried fruit. Include a manual can opener and scissors. Add, granola bars and nuts, juice crystals and juice boxes. Refresh food every 6 – 8 months.
  5. Get a portable radio and extra batteries. You can consider a portable generator.
  6. Learn about hazards in your house and your community. Secure appliances and heavy furniture and shelves. Move beds away from heavy mirrors and windows.
  7. Give every family member a specific safety task to do in an emergency. For example, one person should be in charge of turning off the electricity. One person to collect the emergency container. One person to take charge of the pets.
  8. Stock your kit with large garbage bags.  They can be used as ponchos, ground covers or blankets. Get a few solar blankets. Add plastic bags, dishes, cups, and cutlery.
  9. Add books and toys if you have young children. Get a survival book. Add dried soup, crackers and peanut butter.
  10. Practice emergency drills. If you are not at home pick a community meeting place where you will head to if you are not at home. Identify, escape routes from your home.
  11. Add flashlights, with extra batteries, candles and waterproof matches.
  12. Check your insurance policies and take pictures of your possessions and your identification.
  13. Have cash in your emergency container.  If the electrical grid is down you won’t be able to use debit or credit cards.
  14. Prepare a first aid kit for your container and also one for your car. Include prescription medicines, extra eye glasses, bandages, sterile gauze pads, tape, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide and over the counter pain meds.
  15. Add a change of clothing for each family member. Include warm clothing, heavy work gloves, and sturdy shoes.
  16. Add additional can food like chili, stew, baked beans and fruit.
  17. Enrol each family member in a first aid course
  18. Add personal toiletry items like toilet paper, handy wipes, hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, soup, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary supplies etc.
  19. Add evaporated canned or powdered milk and cereal.
  20. If you have an infant include supplies like formula and diapers
  21. Have a bucket with a tight-fitting lid that can be used as a toilet. Use this bucket to store an axe, folding shovel, and rope.
  22. Make sure you have a pocket knife or swiss army knife that has a number of tools.Include a whistle, flares, spare set of house and car keys.
  23. Keep a leash and pet food close to the emergency container.
  24. Add sleeping bags and blankets to your kit.
  25. Water purification tablets and a water purification water bottle is handy.
  26. Assemble important documents like wills, insurance, medical records, passports, in a fireproof/waterproof container. It might be nice to have a family photo album in your emergency container.  Refresh and revise your emergency container every year.

Fingers crossed that you will never need to use it.  Emergency preparedness is never a waste of time. Always wash your hands frequently throughout the day.

Stay safe and healthy,

From Heather at Skate Helper.