The 10th instalment of Champions Hockey School (CHS) is set to hit Cominco ice on Monday.
The CHS is the popular unofficial start to hockey season in the Silver City, as local and visiting players from minor-hockey age to the professional ranks spend a week working out and preparing for the upcoming season.
“We are absolutely jam packed this year,” said lead instructor Terry Jones, coach of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. “We sold out the school again, and I think it’s the third year in a row.”
Familiar faces Connor and Kellen Jones have taught at the school along with their father Terry since its inaugural run in 2009. This year, however, the twins won’t be attending in person, as they prepare for their upcoming season, reuniting in Switzerland where they’ll play the 2019-20 season for Hockey Club Thurgau based in Weinfelden.
“It’s unfortunate it’s happened this way, but that’s part of their new gig of being in Switzerland,” said Terry. “After a couple of years being apart, I know they’re really looking forward to getting their old Mojo back.”
Despite their absence, Kellen and Connor will still contribute, putting their hi-tech acumen to work for the week.
“They are going to be missed on the ice, but they are going to do all the video work for the kids,” said Terry. “They’ll analyze their skating, stopping, stride, and shooting and so the boys will take a clip of video and analyze each one from Switzerland, so they’ll be able to connect with the kids that way.”
“They really miss being at the camp, but it’s a way they will still be able to contribute.”
CHS is known for its talent and top-end instructors and this year will be no different. The twins former Quinnipiac teammate Zach Tolkinen is back. The Minnesota defenceman captained the Maine Mariners of the ECHL last season and played nine games for the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack on a PTO.
Fruitvale native and former Nitehawk, Ari Postmus, who now works with the WHL Red Deer Rebels, is also returning, in addition to former Trail Smoke Eaters like Dallas Calvin and recently turned professional players Jake Lucchini (Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins), Scott Davidson (S. Carolina Stingrays), and Craig Martin (Adirondack Thunder).
“We have a great group of young people helping out,” said Jones. “We’ll miss the twins, but we’ll still be able to provide a great camp.”
The camp caters to all ages, starting with a mini-camp for first and second year players, Group A for Junior Novice, Group B Senior Novice and Atom, Group C for Pee Wee and Bantams, Midget Prep (age 14-18) and Junior Prep (19+).
The daily schedule includes on-ice practices and scrimmages, as well as off-ice workouts and video instruction led by David Pasin and Mike Morissette.
For many hockey fans, the highlight of the camp is the evening Junior Prep scrimmage that showcases the CHS top players and instructors.
“We’ve got a lot of good players including Sawyer (Selkirk College) and Dryden Hunt (Florida Panthers), the Lucchini brothers (Jake and Jeremy), and Spencer McLean. All of our instructors are taking part as well, so it promises to be a highly competitive session every night.”
The camp starts Monday and goes until Sunday. The Midget Prep scrimmage runs from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m., while the Jr. Prep hit the ice from 7:45 to 8:30 p.m. with the scrimmage starting at 9 p.m.