Champions Hockey School returned to Trail Memorial Centre this week. Despite some initial uncertainty, the popular camp is back on the ice for its 11th straight year, and putting players from age 5-20 through the paces. (Jim Bailey photo)

Trail’s Champions Hockey School happy to get kids back on the ice

Popular Champions Hockey School goes ahead with pandemic protocols in place

Champions Hockey School hit Cominco ice on Monday with a goal to instruct, but also celebrate the game of hockey.

In the current COVID climate, CHS founder Terry Jones, and sons Connor and Kellen, were unsure how to proceed, but ultimately hammered out a plan with the City of Trail for a limited school in this, their 11th year.

“We weren’t even sure if it was going to be a go,” said Connor in an email. “But we’re super happy to offer some variation of CHS and get kids on the ice!”

The pandemic has cancelled multiple events, activities, league start ups, and much that people took for granted and looked forward to in Trail. CHS almost suffered the same fate, after building a dedicated following over the years, combining hard work on the ice with a lot of fun off it, they found a way to make it work; and parents and skaters are thrilled to see it back.

Both professional hockey players, Connor and Kellen were integral in the first decade of success at CHS, focusing on education and development for first time skaters to seasoned veterans. However, the Montrose twins now live in the U.S. and, due to the pandemic, won’t be in Trail for this summer’s camp.

“It’s been tough, I know we love being back in the community and enjoy running the camp. Last year with the Switzerland hockey opportunity and this year with COVID, it’s been frustrating to miss out, but the camp is in excellent hands without us.”

The on-ice time will be intense and informative with Nitehawks coach Terry Jones leading the way, with support from Nitehawks assistant coach Mike Morissette, Jake Lucchini (AHL-Laval), Jeremy Lucchini (USports-York University), Riley Brandt (USports-Royal Military College) and Arie Postmus (ACAC-Red Deer).

“Less of Kel and I though, means the kids get to learn from the hockey-school master himself, my dad,” said Connor. “A lot of what we’ve learned over the past years and have tried to pass on to the kids the last 10 years of CHS, comes from him. Hard work, competitiveness, skill development and having fun is what CHS is all about and we try and surround the attendees with instructors and people who emulate that every day. All of our instructors since day-one are top notch hockey minds and just great people.”

In light of the pandemic, the groups will be decidedly smaller this year, with the categories ranging from ages 5-18 (Jr. Novice to 18U). In addition, an age 19-plus Jr. Prep group will skate and includes former and current Trail Smoke Eaters, Beaver Valley Nitehawks and other high-end talent.

Players are required to put on their gear before going to the arena, then are allowed entry to the arena 10-minutes before their ice time. Unfortunately, there won’t be floor hockey or any extra-curricular activities this year with safety and discretion being the better part of valour.

“Each group will only have one ice session per day throughout the week and we have a ton of COVID rules and guidelines that us and the Arena staff have come up with.”

Despite their respective absences, it doesn’t mean Kellen and Connor won’t be contributing.

“Similar to last year, we’ll be doing all of the HudL video reviews,” explained Connor. “Individually we’ll have video content of the kids shooting and skating uploaded to the APP. Then Kel and I will watch and send our comments and reviews.

“It’s a nice way to still be able to contribute and build some relationships with the kids and parents even though we can’t be there in person.”

Related read: Champions Hockey School hits Cominco ice

Related read: Greater Trail trio in Frozen Four

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