The Cominco Arena is the best spot in Greater Trail to escape the heat and watch hockey’s future unfold, while also catching some of the best talent in BC face off against each other at Champions Hockey School (CHS).
The school starts Saturday, and while normally run by Connor and Kellen Jones, CHS will be without the recently married Kellen this year. In his stead, the twins’ father Terry, also coach of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, will play a greater role as the CHS hits Cominco ice for its ninth season.
“I’ll be doing a little bit more this year,” said Terry. “But we have an amazing staff helping out.”
The twins need little introduction in the Silver City, as both play for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League, are Montrose natives, and also former Nitehawks.
The Jones’ always attract high-end talent to instruct at the school, and this year is no different with professional players and twins’ former Quinnipiac teammates Zach Tolkinen (Wheeling Nailers) and goaltender Michael Garteig (Kalamazoo Wings), along with Trail native Travis St. Denis, also with Bridgeport, helping out.
In addition, they’ve recruited Trail Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Jeff Tambellini and assistant Jessie Leung, as well as former Smoke Eaters Jake and Jeremy Lucchini, Craig Martin, Scott Davidson, and Dallas Calvin, with puck-stoppers Paul Barclay, Brett Clarke, and Tallon Kramer tending to the netminders.
“From the professional to junior levels, they (the instructors) bring a high level of enthusiasm and expertise to a camp that teaches early stage fundamentals,” Connor told the Times before last year’s CHS. “And also, what is most important, enjoying the game of hockey and bringing the love for the game back to Trail.”
CHS has another full contingent of about 150 skaters participating in an intensive but fun week of hockey and off-ice training. The school includes Mini-camps for age 5-7, age 8-10 Group A, 11-12 Group B, 13-14 Group C, age 15-16 Midget Prep camp, and a Junior-College Prep group.
“It’s a great thing,” said Terry. “When the numbers are good it means what you did last year was pretty good. And I’ve done a lot less so I’m pretty happy with the way the boys are running the show.”
The younger players will go through an educational on-ice session, followed by a fun game of floor hockey, video instruction, and dry-land training, while the Bantam, Midget, and Junior Prep will feature off-ice training, video, and practice, topped off by an end-of-the-day scrimmage.
CHS also employs the latest technological innovations, using the Hudl App which analyses each players’skating and shooting skills, and is emailed to the parents shortly after the camp ends.
The Junior Prep/College camp goes in the evenings and is known for its high-calibre play with current Smoke Eaters, Selkirk College players, Nitehawks, and other Junior, NCAA, college and professional players preparing for the upcoming season.
The Midget ice time goes from 5:45-6:30 p.m. and 7-8 p.m., while the Junior-College Prep scrimmage goes from 8:30-10 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.