NHL Lockout 2012: An Upside To No Big League Games? Kids Teams Get Stadium Ice Time (VIDEO)

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There are, contrary to popular opinion, upsides to an NHL lockout. Hockey wives get their husbands back, Canada's Junior Hockey team gets a boost from the addition of some star players, and the little guys get noticed. No, we don't mean the unsung NHL players, we mean the real little guys. And little girls.

To help make use of all that empty arena ice and some of the returned, unused NHL sponsorship funds for this season, sporting gear merchant Sport Chek teamed up with the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs in October and arranged for youth hockey teams in both cities to play their regular weekend games on the big ice at the Saddledome and Air Canada Centre.

The young players got the full treatment — from player spotlight introductions, to scoring and game plays announced by professional announcers, to video highlights on the HD big screen. All the teams were affiliated with Sport Chek's Team Assist program, which helps make hockey more affordable for kids and their families.

The retailer produced a 'highlight reel' of the weekend games, which you can watch above. Apart from the unsurprising product and logo placements, it's got some great clips of the kids on professional ice, playing the game just for the love and thrill of it — with no pay and no contract demands.

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