Champions Hockey School is getting ready to hit Cominco ice on Monday, Aug. 8 in anticipation of its 14th and possibly final season for its organizers.
The popular hockey camp has been run by Montrose native and Beaver Valley Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones and sons Connor and Kellen.
“We’ve been transitioning to a new partnership,” said Connor. “As a family we’d like to stay involved, it’s just getting harder and harder to run as our families have grown and have committed to living out in the Boston and New York areas.”
Both Connor and Kellen are building their own families while still playing professional hockey with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL last season. They have managed to keep the camp going over the years, despite the recent pandemic and playing for teams in both the U.S. and Europe.
Champions has provided more than a generation of hockey players of all ages a chance to get in shape for the upcoming season, and have a great time doing it. The annual camp is as popular with the Junior and College players as it is with the six year olds.
For Connor, one of the most satisfying experiences is watching the players progress and improve over the years as they made their way through minor hockey and beyond.
“It’s been fun to see all of our attendees grow up and move on. Some of the kids have started when they were eight and nine and it’s been amazing to see them move on and pursue their goals of playing junior, college, and pro hockey.”
The Jones’ have also had an impressive and invested cohort of local talent that has helped coach and organize activities on and off the ice.
Dave Pasin and Mike Morrissette are back to host gym activities and video time, while on ice participants can expect to see instructors like current Smoke Eaters assistant coach Dallas Calvin, former Nitehawk and Selkirk College Saint Arie Postmus, and former Smoke Eater goaltender Paul Barclay return for another year.
This year, the camp will see a group of more than 120 skaters from U7 to Junior Prep improve their skills through daily on ice development, gym workouts, floor hockey, video sessions and exciting scrimmages in the evening.
Although it may be the last for Connor, he says he has so many fond moments it’s difficult for him to pin down any one highlight, and looks forward to making more this week.
“Some great memories, but I think just overall seeing the kids grow up in our camp,” said Jones. “Teaching 12-year-old Jake Lucchini and then having him work as a group leader/instructor and then skating with him on a line in the Jr. Prep camp.
“Lot’s of stories like that and it’s been my favorite part seeing everyone grow up the past 10 years.”
Lucchini recently signed a two-way contract with the Belville Senators of the American Hockey League, after leading the Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate in scoring last season.
Champions has no special plans for this camp, says Jones, other than to enjoy their time on and off the ice and, like every year, help create a passion for the game of hockey.
“Just do our best to provide an enjoyable week for the kids to learn hockey skills and to compete against each other,” added Jones.
Champions Hockey School starts Monday, Aug. 8 and goes until Sunday, Aug. 14. The public is welcome to attend.