The mission of The Messier Project is to address the issue of concussion, which has become an epidemic in hockey, through product development and a public awareness campaign.
- Cascade Sports
Youngsters in the Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association, accompanied by their parents, stood in a line that snaked its way around the lobby of the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena on Thursday night.
Ten-year-old Ben D’Angelo is fitted for a hockey helmet by Mike Farkas from Great Skate Hockey at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena on Thursday night. Looking on is Ben’s father, Chad. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J?photo by Scott Kindberg
As they reached the front of the line, the kids - many wearing smiles - tried on state-of-the-art helmets, manufactured by Cascade Sports of Liverpool and endorsed by Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier. The mission of the company, the former NHL star and the local league is to provide maximum protection for the kids.
The fact that the families were getting a steep discount didn't hurt either.
But, in reality, there is no price tag on the safety of the players.
''Concussions are the concern with all the parents,'' said Jamestown resident Dan Tota, who was accompanied by his two sons, Jake, 14, and Luke, 10. '' ... I was going to buy the helmets anyway, because you don't want them on the ice without (the proper protection).''
Mark Taylor, the CCYHA coaching coordinator, said conversations with Cascade were initiated in the spring and the details were worked out quickly enough so that the helmets will be available by the start of the fall season.
''They're lighter and they also have floating pads,'' Taylor said. ''They were designed with the idea to be able to have give in the helmet. They are made to break ... and that's why a (discount) does help, because if one does break, you're thankful it did, but you still have to get another one.''
Jeff Colburn, Cascade's upstate New York representative, was impressed with the turnout.
''Jamestown is one of the few organizations in Western New York that has come on really strong,'' he said. ''Sometimes you get only one team in an organizations, sometimes you get a few teams. ... To get the (CCYHA) board to back the effort is unusual.''
Colburn noted that every Cascade helmet is manufactured in Liverpool and that his company is working together with retailer Great Skate Hockey in Buffalo.
And, of course, having Messier on board doesn't hurt getting the word out.
''Mark Messier joined the board of directors in 2009 and, basically, it was his way to give back to the game of hockey,'' Colburn said. ''There is a void in the development of better head protection in hockey and he was introduced to Cascade through a mutual connection. He loved our technology and the mission we had to bring a safer option to hockey, so he hopped on board and assisted in design and spreading the word. He's done a great job for us and we're thankful to have him on our team.''