The Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex will play host to a cultural melting pot tonight, as east meets west against a backdrop of quintessential Canadiana.
A multicultural celebration centred around the Lunar New Year will take place at tonight's Coquitlam Express contest, and the event will feature lion dances, Chinese cultural dances, Korean drumming and Hapkido demonstrations.
The point of the celebration is two-fold: to help newer Canadians, particularly those from China and Korea, integrate into Canadian society, while giving others an opportunity to immerse themselves in Asian customs.
That it's all happening at a hockey game is no accident, as the event carries on with a partnership developed three years ago between the Express and the immigrant settlement group SUCCESS.
"Hockey is almost like a social skill," said Alice Poon, a settlement officer with SUCCESS.
"It is a workplace language and you can start a conversation with other people by using hockey."
Conceived of in 2011, the program is referred to as Hockey 101 and has been offered a handful of times since its inception.
The learning process begins with PowerPoint presentations mixing simple English terminology with the most basic rules that govern the sport: the number of players permitted on the ice, what the blue and red lines represent and the type of equipment used. From there, the students head to the rink to make a visual connection between the classroom terms and the lessons that play out on the ice.
"They need to be coached and they need to be told about what the sport is," Poon said.
"They won't take the initiative to find out because it is so foreign to them."
Outside of learning the ins and outs of the game, participants also work on practical English skills - a discussion about what a puck is also lends itself towards learning about the word "rubber," for example.
While previous instalments of the classes have focused on the game itself, the most recent lesson plans have also touched on the significance of the anthem being sung before the game, and what a 50/50 draw is.
"The 50/50 draw really comes from North American culture, but it's not just for hockey: you can do it for community events, fundraising for school activities or at parties.
A new immigrant wouldn't know that." Poon said.
"We focus ourselves on hockey, but we also want to touch on these things because they are social norms and cultural norms that we want to incorporate into their learning."
Tonight's events kick off at 6: 30 p.m. with the various demonstrations, while the puck drop is slated for 7 p.m.