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

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.

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!

Create Theme Events at your Ice Arena

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper.  Last week I posted suggestions on how to create additional revenue. I realized there is also an opportunity to create weekly, monthly, seasonal theme events that will generate more revenue and help you become a top choice for birthday parties and other celebrations.

You may need to hire an event planner to help you create, market and execute these theme nights. Another more cost-effective option would be to gather up all staff and brainstorm on what types of theme nights would work best at your facility.

Kids Birthday Parties

Your arena can become the number one birthday party destination. You can offer different packages and price them accordingly just like our customer Mt. Lebanon Ice Center (image of one of their parties pictured above).  The hockey birthday party, the Disney birthday party, the skating and craft birthday party.  Lots of options for this. Offer parents the online invitations and party room and make it easy for parents to book a party. Have your staff there ready to help create a positive experience. Offer Skate Helpers to those who may not know how to skate.

Skating party invitation from

Date Night or Teen Night

Hire a DJ to play music and put on a light show. Invite a food truck to the event or ask a local café to handle the catering. If you have a licensed restaurant in the facility you can offer special dinner-and-drink options.

Seasonal Holiday Events

This can be a big money maker. Use music, lights and decorations have staff dressed in costumes. Make if fun and exciting. Give your customers a memorable experience that would create an annual tradition that everyone looks forward to.

Skating Sessions for Seniors

Have Skate Helpers available for those who are nervous to get back skating. You could also invite community health agencies once a week or once a month to offer free blood pressure checks, diabetes testing, eye testing etc. Your arena becomes a community health and wellness center.

Market your Event Space

Market your event space to local companies as the perfect corporate event experience. Offer companies corporate packages like a “Try Hockey” session or “Try Broomball” then have a party room area where they can have a team building session. Offer full catering and event planning making it easy for the company to book a corporate event with you.

While hockey can be an expensive sport ice skating is not. Ice skating is social, inexpensive and most skating is done indoors so you don’t have to depend on the weather to go skating unless of course you are skating outdoors.

Stay Safe and Healthy

Heather at Skate Helper

How can Ice Arenas Increase Revenue?

Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper.  Like everyone I can’t wait get back to working at a regular pace. Since business has slowed, I’ve started blogging and realized that over the past 13 years in business I’ve learned a great deal from my customers and how they generate extra revenue.  In order to increase revenue, ice arenas must either gain new customers or sell more to existing customers. Below are some suggestions that may help your facility increase revenue.

Offer Value-Added Service

Selling a value-added service to an existing customer is easier than getting a new customer.  The Skate Helper is an example of a value-added service. Some of my customers have gone to local businesses like orthodontists, lawyers, hospitals to secure funding and in return have put their logo placed prominently on the front of the Skate Helpers.  Other ice arenas have purchased the skate helpers and in turn rent them out to their customers so they pay for themselves in a season or two.

The Skate Helpers can also be used in adaptive skating programs. Ice arenas can offer inclusive programs enabling people with balance issues or autism the chance to experience ice skating in a safe way. Older adults could also benefit using the skate helper as adults can use two stacked together. Offering adaptive skating programs to the community may help create a new customer base.

A few months ago, I visited the Chicago Blackhawks to see their First Stride program in action. Every day 60 kids come to the arena to participate in skating and learn a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program.  Perhaps ice arenas could offer something like this on a smaller scale and work with local school boards. Bring kids into the arena for skating and then perhaps an hour of educational instruction.

The Chicago Blackhawks use the skate helper as part of their First Stride program.

Hire an Expert or Find One In-House

You’ve got to spend money to make money.  An ice arena may benefit from hiring a marketing, social media or event planner. This may be one person or three different people depending on how big your facility is. All three are extremely important in building your brand and awareness of your facility. There are many freelancers that can be hired on a contract basis. Having someone dedicated to creating, executing and managing events make that person invaluable. Your arena is more than just an ice rink.

If money is really tight, look inward and see what kind of talent you have at your disposal internally. You may be surprised at the potential of creative thought and innovation if you simply ask for it. For example, I know that students and part-time help would love to be asked their opinions.

Customer Experience

Visiting the ice arena should be an enjoyable experience. As a hockey mom I’ve spent a lot of time at various ice arenas.  Maybe there’s an opportunity to enhance food and beverage services. Partner up with a local business to offer healthy snacks, quality coffee and tea and perhaps smoothies. Sell fruit and other healthy alternatives to junk food. The ice arena should be a wellness center just like community centers and gyms. You can promote health and wellness by hanging inspiring artwork or posters, and pictures of your management team. You could book an appointment with an interior designer to come in and offer advice on how you might refresh the arena interior with paint and furniture.  In short, make your space feel inviting and warm! Customers pay attention to details. Would a customer believe that your staff are well groomed and presentable? Are they trained in customer service and are they friendly and outgoing?  How clean is your facility?  Look in the lobby, locker rooms and restrooms. Your facility represents your brand.  So many times, I left the rink to get a coffee or sandwich. Other times I just sat in my car and looked at my phone because my car was more comfortable.

What about partnering with a local gym and offering some kind of membership deal along with skating passes?  Could you put a couple of recombinant bikes in the waiting area sectioned off as “Adult-Only” so parents could ride them while waiting for practice to end.  How about creating a children’s play area in the lobby or a lending library area for families?

I remember being in the Calgary Airport and you could hop on a bike and see how much energy you were generating. It was better than just sitting there waiting for my flight.

Offer customers comfortable seating with charging stations and put televisions up so you can broadcast your upcoming events. If you make your customers feel more comfortable, they will feel positive about the experience at your facility. They will then be more inclined to spend money on food and beverage, rent a skate helper or sign up for other programs your facility is offering.  There is power in Word of Mouth referrals.

Other Ways to Generate Revenue:

  • Use your rink year-round. Your arena is an event space. Market to customers who may need a big event space for wedding fairs, farmers markets or trade shows.
  • In the off season take the ice out and use the floor surface for indoor sports like volley ball, ball hockey, lacrosse or basketball. This may be a great reason to hire a marketing professional who can market the rink in the off-season and sell to new customers.
  • Partner with a gym or personal trainer and run athletic training camps for kids, teens and adults. Make your facility more than just an ice arena – it is a community wellness center.
  • Sell advertising in your facility. Get local businesses to sponsor your scoreboard or dasher boards. Look to local businesses like banks, local restaurants, account ants, realtors, car dealerships etc. Any businesses that your customers go to regularly should be on your contact list.

Stay Safe and Healthy

Heather from Skate Helper

Why is it called an ice rink and could outdoor skating become extinct?

Rink, is a Scottish word meaning ‘course’, it was used as the name of a place where curling was played. Early in its history, ice hockey was played mostly on rinks constructed for curling. The name was retained after hockey-specific facilities were built.

Variations of both curling and hockey had been played for many generations prior to the naming of the playing area, but the origins of the modern, indoor ice rink can be traced back to Montreal, where the first organized indoor game was played at the Victoria Skating Rink in 1875.

Outdoor Skating

It’s becoming a luxury to experience skating outdoors on a natural frozen rink in the wintertime. As of Feb 23, 2020 the Rideau Canal closed.  It was open for only 31 days from Jan. 18thto Feb. 23rd. More than 381,000 visitors enjoyed the canal in 2020. In a statement, the NCC says “the unusually warm weather earlier this week resulted in a significant degradation of the ice. With a major snowfall in the forecast, followed by higher temperatures, our mighty maintenance team can no longer ensure safe ice conditions.”  For the first time in the 50-year history of the Rideau Canal Skateway, the full length of the Skateway didn’t open for skaters.  Is this a sign of climate change?

Heather logan, creator of The Skate Helper, enjoys one of the final days of skating on the Rideau Canal before it closed early on Feb.23, 2020. 

Global Warming

RinkWatch is a citizen science research initiative that asks people who love outdoor skating to help environmental scientists monitor winter weather conditions and study the long-term impacts of climate change. Launched by researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University in January 2013, participants from across North America have submitted information about skating conditions on more than 1,400 outdoor rinks and ponds. In addition to contributing valuable data to environmental science, RinkWatch has become anonline community for people who love making backyard and community rinks.

Global warming is part of our life and major weather events are becoming a regular news item. Many people in the world will never experience outdoor skating on a natural rink. Skating outdoors in a natural setting is not only magical and awe-inspiring but it gives you a sense of freedom, it is also fun, and exhilarating.

The CBC has compiled an excellent list of scenic once-in-a-lifetime skating rink experiences in Canada check it out here.




Who is Making Ice Skating more Accessible?

Conway Arena

There are many barriers to ice skating whether it’s cost, mobility issues or just being afraid to try it.  For many people ice skating is just something they read about or see when they watch television.  Today, more and more arenas are offering adaptive skating programs. Once such arena is Conway Arena in New Hampshire where the Adaptive Adults Skating Program uses the skate helpers regularly.

First Stride Program

The Chicago Blackhawks introduced their First Stride program two years ago and the results have been amazing.  Their goal is to offer every school within a two-mile radius of the Fifth Third Arena the chance to come and learn how to skate and also learn in the classroom about S.T.E.M ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Over 113,000 kids go through the program every year.  For many families skating and hockey is just not available or affordable. The Blackhawks offer skate helpers to those kids who may feel scared their first time on the ice.

The Adaptive Sports Program at Franciscan Children’s

This program provides children with special needs the opportunity to participate in sports and active recreation in a fun and safe environment. The Program promotes the learning of new skills, social opportunities and moderate to vigorous physical activity to maintain and improve health and fitness. The program takes place at the Boston Bruins Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, MA.

Lern more about this adaptive sports program by watching here: