LYNN– When Lynn Youth Hockey President Brian Boisson took over four years ago, he and his team wanted to build a solid stream of skaters to funnel into the program.
“I took over four years ago and we were struggling to get about 25 kids in the ‘Learn to Skate’ program on Saturday mornings,” Boisson said. “That’s the foundation of our program. If we don’t have numbers in that program we don’t have teams in the future. So our main focus was to build the ‘Learn to Skate’ program.”
Now in his fourth year as the organization’s president, Boisson and Lynn Youth Hockey have seen their program branch out even further than they imagined.
“Last year we maxed out at about 68 kids in just about three years time in the ‘Learn to Skate’ program,” Boisson said. “Now these kids are learning to skate and they will be on our future teams over the next few years. We have to keep that program strong and full of kids.”
The success of Lynn Youth Hockey over the past few years was visible at the program’s ‘Welcome Back Night’ Thursday night at Connery Rink. This year, Lynn Youth Hockey will be changing its team name from the Comets to the Lynn Jets, to match the name of Lynn’s high school team. Boisson, who also is an assistant coach for the Jets high school team, is excited for the program’s next chapter.
“It’s a whole new beginning for Lynn Youth Hockey,” Boisson said. “The name and logo have changed a few times over the years and now with the high school team being called ‘the Jets’ too this is just one team, one family.”
Players also received brand new home and away jerseys on Thursday night, each featuring theirs names and uniform numbers on the back. The jerseys were made possible by local sponsors including Lynn Police and Fire Department associations, Lynch Insurance, Night Shift Distributors, Sean McCarthy at Salem Five Bank and Salem Five Bank.
“I grew up playing Lynn Youth Hockey and we always had local sponsors on the back of our jerseys,” Boisson said. “When I took over I wanted to come out with brand new jerseys because the kids hadn’t had new ones in five or six years.
“The jerseys were old and beaten then,” Boisson added. “What kid doesn’t want their name and number on the back of their jersey? So that was one of the things we implemented. The kids get their names on the shirt and also get to pick their own numbers now.”
While the most exciting parts of the season may take place on the ice, fundraising behind the scenes is what helps make the games possible. The program will work on canning this weekend and is also setting up several events, including a a car wash on September 15th (10-2 at Lynch Insurance in Wyoma Square), an annual cornhole tournament in March and several nights at local restaurants, fundraising coordinator Crystal Lopez said.
“The moms and parents help out a lot with everything,” Lopez said. “Especially with the raffle baskets at events because without that we wouldn’t have pretty much anything, that’s where we make a lot of funds.”
Overall, Boisson and his team are just happy to see another season kick off with their hockey family.
“Hockey is like no other sport,” Boisson said. “It’s an eight-month season and it allows us to bring together a large group of all kinds of people and people who have never played hockey into a family. That’s what we call ourselves, we are a hockey family and we treat everyone just like that.”