AUBURN — Ice hockey and hot coffee. It’s not just for the bleachers anymore.

Dunkin’ Donuts of Maine on Wednesday became an official sponsor of local youth hockey, entering into a five-year agreement — with a pledge of $100,000 — to support the Maine Gladiators and the Twin City Titans. 

Under the plan, Dunkin’ Donuts will support existing hockey programs and help create new ones. The company will provide money for uniforms for both hockey programs through the 2018-19 seasons.

But according to some local hockey fans, the partnership is about much more than big checks and team logos. With the help of Dunkin’ Donuts, more children will be lacing up ice skates than ever before.

“It’s expensive,” said Maine Gladiator coach and treasurer Daniel D’Auteuil Jr. “For some families, it’s prohibitive.”

It’s no exaggeration. Hockey is widely considered among the most expensive of youth sports. The skates and pads, the travel and the expense of ice time put it out of reach for many families.


Here, D’Auteuil said, is where the Dunkin’ Donuts partnership comes into play.

“This is going to allow us to grow the program,” he said. “It’s going to open it up for a lot more kids.”

Just before sundown Wednesday, at Festival Plaza, Dunkin’ Donuts representatives met with a dozen youth hockey players and their parents. All of the children were in uniform and so were a few adults. The meeting was largely ceremonial. Photos were snapped and an oversized novelty check in the amount of $100,000 written to The Maine Gladiators and Twin City Titans was presented. 

The sponsorship will also put photos of the players in Dunkin’ Donuts shops across the Twin Cities, a prospect that already had the children buzzing with excitement Wednesday night.

While the youths mugged for the cameras, their parents huddled in small groups, talking about the joys of hockey, but also about the expense. Several knew people who simply couldn’t afford the hefty cost associated with the sport.

The partnership, in addition to providing funds for specific things, also provides additional ways for hockey folks to raise money on their own.


Among other things, the sponsorship includes:

* Dunkin’ Munchkin Program: allows access for children ages 4 to 6 to play hockey at no cost, including uniforms.

* Uniforms: pays for uniforms for both programs through the 2018-19 seasons.

* Community Mug Program: Dunkin’ will provide 2,000 customized mugs each year for the teams to sell for $20 and keep the profits. Mug buyers receive a free iced or hot coffee every Sunday in that calendar year. There is the potential to raise $200,000 as part of the program.

“Hockey is considered the most expensive youth sport, and this sponsorship will provide potential hockey players with access like never before,” D’Auteuil said. “We see parents struggle every day in our community to financially support their child’s hockey interest. We truly thank Dunkin’ Donuts for helping make this possible.”

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