Hockey: Champions in the making

Students will be lacing up their skates and hitting the ice at Cominco Arena this weekend for the annual Champions Hockey School.

Even though it is hitting record-high temperatures outdoors, students will be lacing up their skates and hitting the ice at Cominco Arena this weekend for the annual Champions Hockey School.

Instructor Terry Jones says the school is going to help students hone their hockey skills, but also have a good time.

“I think the most important thing is for the kids to have fun on the ice,” he said. “If they are having fun, then all the other skills we teach, the kids will want to learn them.”

Learning more about the game of hockey isn’t just about on-ice practices, says the Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ coach, but also about building certain characteristics off the ice as well.

“We do teach leadership and team building off the ice, and the main thing for us is that we want it to be a positive experience,” he said, adding that respect and discipline are also on the list of skills to teach. “We have a lot of fun, but at the same time, we have an expectation level for their behaviour and for respect.”

The school teaches three groups and each learns different skills.

“We have our youngest group (age 5 and up) and for them we are really focused on fundamentals,” said Jones. “As the groups progress, we combine teaching the fundamentals with technical skills. We go through team concepts and even off-ice conditioning.”

Jones says his ultimate goal with the school is to teach the kids something they didn’t know before and giving the students something to look forward to for next summer.

“We try and make it so the kids think, ‘whoa that was a great experience and I want to go back next year,” he said.

Registration for the Junior Prep class at the school has been full for months and Jones says he thinks it is because of the instructors, led this year by Quinnipiac University’s assistant coach Reid Cashman, and the quality time the players get to have together.

“It is a collection of some of the best hockey prospects in the area who train together for a week,” he said. “We have an NCAA coach that runs the program, so I think it’s an opportunity for young guys to get some exposure to an NCAA coach and show him their stuff.”

Along with exposure to coaches and the fundamentals of the game, Jones says one of the most important things about the school is getting a bunch of hockey players together in one room.

“It’s a team sport and it is a social thing too,” he said. “Some people don’t realize that one of the best parts about hockey is the social nature of it. It comes with the opportunity to sit in the dressing room, have fun with your friends and talk.”

The Champions Hockey School runs from Aug. 10 to 16 and Jones says while their Junior Prep class is full, there are still a couple of spaces available in the younger groups for those that want to register.

For more info call Jones at 231-0027 or visit championshockeyschool.com.