Over 100 hockey players got a jump on the upcoming season as they strapped on their skates for the first day of summer hockey camp at the Cominco Arena Sunday.
The Champions Hockey School welcomed skaters from ages five to 25 for an intensive week of hockey instruction, development and training.
The camp, organized by Beaver Valley Nighthawks head coach Terry Jones and sons Connor and Kellen, forwards for Quinnipiac University in Conneticut, is in its second year and has proven very popular.
“The turnout is outstanding,” said Terry. “We had to turn away kids this year which is unfortunate because we’d like to give everyone an opportunity but you don’t want to overload it either.”
Terry has guided the Nitehawks to five Kootenay International Junior Hockey League titles as well as two B.C. championships. The Edmonton Oilers drafted Kellen and both he and Connor attended the team’s summer camp last month.
The Champions six-day camp includes on-ice instruction and scrimmaging in addition to off-ice conditioning as well as individual and team building.
The camp is split into four groups, starting with younger kids and going up by age groups to the junior prep camp comprised of major midget, junior and college players.
“The mini camp is for the kids just starting, basically we offer lots of encouragement and lots of fun. We just want to teach them the game of hockey and teach them to love the game,” said Connor.
The older groups will focus more on conditioning and competing with intense scrimmages going every evening.
“We’ll be skating really hard and by the end of the week everybody’s going to be really tired,” said Connor.
The camp also provides an opportunity for the Jones brothers and others to get ready for their own seasons.
The instructors include Fruitvale’s Kevin Limbert who plays his fourth year for Yale University, Paul Matteucci and daughter Ella who just won a Canadian title with Notre Dame, ex-Smoke Eater Paul Barclay, Travis St. Denis of the Penticton Vees, Sahir Gill from Boston University and local instructors Dave Pasin and Mike Morissette.
Skilled young players from across the West Kootenay region will join the strong lineup of instructors. Once the days practice and instruction is over, they will faceoff against each other for an intense game of three-on-three hockey each evening.
“The competition level will be unreal . . . this year’s group is outstanding. Never mind the instructors, we’ve got some good young talent, and I expect the scrimmages to be lively,” said Terry.
The main thing is for the players to compete, work hard, learn and have fun, said Connor.
“By the end we hope they say, ‘That was a tiring week but I loved it.”
The public is welcome. Scrimmages start about 9 p.m.