Hockey: Champions camp hits the ice

The ice is in at the Trail Memorial Centre as Champions Hockey School gets set to drop the puck on Sunday.

The ice is in at the Trail Memorial Centre as Champions Hockey School gets set to drop the puck on Sunday.

The hockey camp is open to all levels of hockey player starting with young skaters age 5-7, then moving through the various groups – Avalanche ages 8-10, Bruins age 10-12, Canadiens 12-14, to age 15 and up that includes elite midget, junior, and college hockey players.

“The camp’s been great,” said camp organizer and instructor Terry Jones. “It’s a week of hard work, but something we really look forward to.”

The camp focuses on conditioning and development, with lots of on- and off-ice instruction including video analysis, dry-land training, and fun activities such as floor hockey, flag football, and kickball depending on the age group.

“With the younger kids it’s about having fun, to give them a sense of loving the game, and enjoying the game, and teaching some of the fundamentals and some skating. If they want to keep playing the game its all about having fun with it,” added the Beaver Valley Nitehawks coach.

With the middle groups, instruction will concentrate on fundamentals, skill improvement in part through video analysis courtesy of Hawk assistant coach Mike Morissette, and team play.

“As the kids get older, you start treating it a bit more seriously but you still try to have fun and be competitive . . . The junior prep group is something to watch, like it’s so competitive it’s pretty darn good hockey,” said Jones.

With the elite older group, it is more about getting the players prepared for the upcoming season, combining intense scrimmaging, with off-ice core training before heading to various midget, junior, and university camps.

With about 30 skaters in each group, it makes for a long day, starting at 7 a.m. and going until 10 p.m., but the sheer diversity and long hours of instruction necessitate a dedicated core of instructors. As a result,  Jones has recruited ample local talent to help teach young players, which include: former Vernon Vipers, RBC Cup champs and Quinnipiac University Bobcats Connor and Kellen Jones, Travis St. Denis of the Penticton Vees – the reigning RBC Cup champions, Boston University’s Sahir Gill, former Smokie and Yale University forward Kevin Limbert along with Hawks coach Paul Matteucci and Ella Matteucci (Clarkson University), and assistance from the Nitehawks coaching staff and players leading the groups.

Jones says there are still a few spots open, but the camp is filling up fast.

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