Hockey is back in Prince Rupert.
With the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre receiving its fresh sheet of ice this week, puck players across the North Coast are beginning to turn their attention from the golf greens and workout facilities back to the confines of the plexiglass and dressing rooms.
And with the first full week of the new ice surface comes the Lou Lemire Summer Hockey Skills Camp.
The program is in its eighth year in Prince Rupert and is returning after a successful 2014 iteration that had minor hockey, adult and Prince Rupert Rampage players all lacing ‘em up and developing their on-ice swagger.
Lemire is an athletic director at a Summerland middle school and is bringing his camp to Rupert, Summerland, Castlegar and Port McNeill this year.
“It’ll be the same camp [as last year] — that’s six to 15-year-olds — and we’re running an adult camp. We’ve got a conditioning camp for midgets and juniors and we also do a practice for the Rampage as well,” Lemire told the Northern View.
With instructors having previous junior and university-level hockey and dryland training experience, the playing field will be full of kids and adults of all ages.
The camp splits the participants into age and skill level and while skill and fundamentals often clash with traditional hockey schools, Lemire said they both work in concert together at the Hockey Skills Camp.
“We do small, skill-based games with the kids because we prefer to give them a lot more touches. In two-on-two or three-on-three, the kids get to touch the puck a lot and with a full-on scrimmage, they don’t touch the puck as much, but they still enjoy scrimmaging, so we do allow them to have scrimmage time as well,” said Lemire.
“What we do is we teach the kids how to perform the proper technique for power-skating, passing and shooting and then we reinforce what we taught with drills. Then we finish off with some type of game. We’ll play dodgeball or asteroids or tag or something. We just want to make sure the kids are having fun as well.”
The focus for adult recreational participants from next Monday to Wednesday will be power skating and individual skills with a focus on shooting, stick-handling and passing and Thursday to Friday featuring team play and instructional scrimmages. A total of 75 minutes of daily instruction is guaranteed for the adults. The kids will take part during the day.
The camp also boasts a low instructor to player ratio and optional T-shirts and hats. This year, Terrace River Kings’ player Derek Jurista is part of the coaching staff.
The Rampage senior men’s team will additionally be benefitting from Lemire’s expertise as they’ll take to the ice each night after the adult segment has concluded. They’ll focus on conditioning to get their bodies ready for another season in the CIHL.
“The feedback has been great. The kids really enjoy the camp and we’ve kept growing the program. We’ve got over 40 kids this year so it’s been very positive,” said Lemire.
“I keep telling everybody the support we get from minor hockey and the community makes it worthwhile coming and putting on a camp for Rupert. We get treated really well and we look forward to coming back every year.”