Ice hockey moms offer peers relief -- a ButtPuck
By Natalie Armstrong

TORONTO, Nov 21 (Reuters Life!) - Three Canadian ice hockey moms are supplying long-suffering U.S. and international peers with a unique aid to make long winters sitting by ice rinks cheering on teams more comfortable -- a cushion-***-placard.

In what started out as a fund-raising idea to offset hockey costs, three mothers designed a cushion to help ease the discomfort suffered by thousands of mothers whose winters are taken up with the nation's most popular seasonal sport.

The ButtPuck is a black, round, fleece hockey puck-shaped cushion stuffed with high-density foam -- and a built-in mitt on the back so the cushion can be held up as a placard to cheer on the team.

One of the creators, self-confessed hockey mom Susan Lambden, said the cushion was meant to ease the occupational hazard of sitting through about 400 hours of practice sessions, games and tournaments during the September to April season.

"It's very comfortable as opposed to a hard bleacher or arena seat," Lambden, 44, told Reuters from Guelph, Ontario.

She said it was especially designed for mothers.

"Moms sit, dads don't," she said.

It started out as a fundraiser for their sons' hockey team. as a season can cost each player as much as C$3,000 ($2,630).

Hockey is Canada's main winter sport with about 4.5 million of the nation's 32.6 million people involved in the sport, either playing, coaching, or volunteering.

That includes more than a half million Canadian children who play hockey on organized teams, according to Hockey Canada. More than 1.5 million games are played every season, with two million practices in the country's 3,000 arenas.

Lambden's basement has been transformed into a factory line with fellow creators Tanja Ducharme and Kathie Heyworth who make up the company Three Hockey Moms.

They make the cushions themselves and also embroider messages such as "Go Team Go," "Goalie Mom" or the player's or team's name or logos in the center of the puck.

They started off by selling the ButtPuck for about C$20 each at local games but last year set up an online sales store on Web site www.threehockeymoms.com (external - login to view) and this season have attracted orders from all over the United States and Britain.

"We just knew it was something people would like and use," said Lambden. ($1=$1.15 Canadian)

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.