Thursday, November 7, 2013

Backes donates to Mankato Hockey

The Mankato Area Hockey Association participated in the national Try Hockey For Free Day last weekend, and the day may not have been as successful as it was if not for a significant donation from former Minnesota State player and current St. Louis Blues captain David Backes.

Backes recently made a donation that allowed MAHA to purchase the equivalent $24,000 (retail price) in Bauer hockey gear. The organization was able to outfit new players and stock its equipment room with 150 sticks, 70 pairs of skates, 60 helmets, 60 pairs of gloves, six sets of goaltending gear, 1,000 pucks and more, according to the association's website.

That gear came in handy on Saturday as 91 kids participated in Try Hockey For Free, more than double last year's turnout.

"Without that donation, I don't know what we would have done," said Jim Steiert, MAHA vice president and fundraising chair. "It was complete pandemonium on the ice. It's the greatest thing I've ever seen."

According to the MAHA website, Try Hockey For Free participants who chose to sign up for the season got free use of the equipment for the year.

"We always struggle with sticks," Steiert said. "And it's a struggle to get some kids outfitted. That's part of the experience."

When he learned of Backes' interest in donating to MAHA over the summer, Steiert said he assumed the organization would be able to replenish its supply of sticks. Then Backes informed him that he was committing $12,000 and could get the gear at cost. Steiert said picking out equipment, which also included puck bags, coaching tools and repair kits, was like being a kid in a candy story.

"That's exactly how it felt," he said.

Backes played for the Mavericks from 2003-2006. He is in his eighth season with the Blues.

To see pictures from MAHA's Try Hockey For Free day, go here.

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