After 10 years of hosting his skills camp in Prince Rupert, hockey instructor Lou Lemire said seeing players he has coached over the year improve steadily makes his long trip from Penticton worthwhile.
“The highlight for me is coming here and seeing kids who have been coming to my camp for the last two, three or four years,” he said. “Some have been coming for five or six years, so just to see how they’ve progressed is great.”
From Aug. 14-18, the Lou Lemire hockey skills camp was held at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre ice rink. Thirty-four of the city’s young hockey players went through a week of drills to sharpen their games and hands on instruction from Lemire and his team of experienced coaches. Lemire said he trys to train players to be able to fix their own mistakes before stepping in.
“We’ll say ‘self-correct, self-correct’ and sometimes they can’t,” he said. “When they can’t that’s when we’re there to help them along.”
Lemire said skating, shooting and stick handling were areas of focus for the younger players, while older players who had played more were taught more advanced aspects of the game such as positioning and finding angles. Following morning sessions on the ice, the players did dry-land training to improve their fitness.
Mike Murphy, whose eight-year-old son Riley Murphy participated in the camp, said it was good that specialized, high-level camps could come to Prince Rupert, as many of the city’s hockey players had to travel outside of town to find instruction.
“Some people go to Kelowna, some go to Vancouver Island, some go to Prince George,” he said. “And if you don’t have the time or the money to go and do something like that it’s nice to go somewhere in town and actually have a good camp with these guys.”
On the last day of the camp, Lemire split the players into two teams where they played in a full game scrimmage. Both teams had fun, but played with the intensity of a Stanley Cup finals game. Murphy and other parents in the stand enjoyed the affair, which went to the yellow-pinnied team 9-8.
Lemire said the support from the Prince Rupert community for the camp has been tremendous, allowing it to successfully continue in the city.
“Everyone from the arena to the city, it’s been amazing,” he said. “So that’s why we keep coming back.”