The Borderland International Hockey School this year saw a dramatic increase in the number of players who registered for the two-week camp at Memorial Arena, organizer Terry Mihichuk enthused Monday.
The school, which just completed its 18th season (15 of those under the guidance of Gus Lindberg), saw 156 youngsters participate—up from just 84 over one week last August.
Because of the poor numbers, Mihichuk was forced to shorten the two-week school down to only one week a year ago.
But the school saw a resurgence in numbers this year, Mihichuk said, partly due to the earlier tryout camps for the local PeeWee and Bantam rep teams.
“I was very pleased. It went quite well," he noted. ”We had the kids do a lot of skating and puck-handling drills.
“We had power-skating and a conditioning camp, and we had instructional videos for the younger guys and dryland training for the older ones,” he added.
Mihichuk said the videos—which were brought in to make up for the loss of pool time at the Sportsplex—were a “big hit” with the kids, and he’ll try to incorporate them again next year.
“The younger guys loved the videos and we also had some fun videos for them to watch. We rented them ‘Mighty Ducks I and II,’” he laughed.
Meanwhile, Mihichuk said the school looks promising for next summer, with many parents already approaching him to say they’ll be back for the full two weeks.
He feels it’s in the school’s best interest to give parents—and the kids—exactly what they want in a hockey school.
“We’re willing to listen to any parent’s suggestions or comments on how to make the camp better," he noted. "We’re always ready to listen to their input.”
And with a solid core of instructors (many of whom have played at the college, junior and pro levels), the kids received first-hand instruction from many of the area’s top players.
“It’s kind of neat to stand there with some pretty good players and learn from them ’cause they’re good coaches,” enthused J.P. Patrick, 14, who played last season for the KC PeeWees rep team.
“[The school] is good. It gets you in shape and your mental game [ready]," he added. "And because the school is right before the hockey tryouts, I feel more comfortable out there and I have a better feel for the puck.”
Puck-handling is one of the many skills the instructors try to teach players during the camp. But most importantly, they wanted the kids to have fun on the ice.
“We try to keep it fun with some races to make things interesting,” noted Gib Tucker, who played with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League from 1989-92.
“And it’s fun for us, too, because we get to watch these players get better by the end of the week,” he added.
“With the different age groups, you have the different skill levels, so we learn to try to make it as fun as possible so [the kids] want to be out there,” agreed Wayne Strachan, who finished the 1996-97 season with the Manitoba Moose of the International Hockey League.
“The important thing is for them to have fun and learn.”
Award winners from the school’s first week included:
osix to nine age group—Brandon Roden (MVP), Kyle Herr (Most Improved), and Jordan Davis (Most Dedicated);
o10-11 age group—Eric Bigham (MVP), Robert Lahti (Most Improved), and Scott Bridgeman (Most Dedicated); and
o12-15 age group—Kevin Webb (MVP), Lorne Koski (Most Improved), and Greg Flewelling (Most Dedicated).
Winners from the second week were:
osix to nine age group—Brian White (MVP), Cody McCool (Most Improved), and Pierre Jourdain (Most Dedicated);
o10-11 age group—Tyler Barker (MVP), Stephan Briggs (Most Improved), and Cody Dittaro (Most Dedicated); and
o12-15 age group—Patrick Wensley (MVP), Jim King (Most Improved), and Marty Hanson (Most Dedicated).