Kids in Prince Rupert got the chance to tune up their hockey skills from a pro at the end of August as the Lou Lemire Summer Hockey Skills Camp came to town.
The group hit the rink just a day after the new ice was completed at the Civic Centre. Kids from 6-16 years old took part in what is now the 11th consecutive year Lemire has brought the camp north.
“The parents in the community have really stepped up to make sure we can put on the program every year,” Lemire said of the help he receives to continue to bring the camp to town. Lemire is the founder and director of the camp. He enjoyed a successful hockey career himself, for which he was enshrined the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame.
Lemire’s camp focuses on a number of skills meant to emphasize development of well-rounded players. Power skating, shooting, stick handling, angling and checking are on the priority list.
|Lou Lemire played and won championships with the Notre Dame Hounds, Prince Albert Raiders, University of Regina Cougars and Penticton Silver Bullets, all earning him a spot in the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
|Players await their turn to hop over the benches. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
“We try to cover the basics that the kids will need to get themselves ready for the fall,” Lemire said.
“We divide them into two different groups. Within those groups we divide them according to skill level,” Lemire explained of the camp’s format. “We get a chance to challenge them throughout the drills, and we get a chance to spend a lot of one on one time with them throughout the week.”
|Lou Lemire goes over some pointers before the upcoming scrimmages. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
|Lou Lemire shows one of his students where to place herself once the puck drops. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
After finishing the drills, it’s time for the players to scrimmage. Lemire splits up the game sessions between 3-on-3, 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 formats.
“I want a lot of touches, as much as you can,” Lemire explained. “With 3-on-3, kids that might not get a chance to have a scoring opportunity get a chance to. And then when things tighten up, you offer them an opportunity to have to get open and get creative.”
|Lacing up the skates. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
|Warming up the goalies. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
The camp’s timing is perfect, as minor hockey is set to get underway imminently. Lemire hopes the kids take away both skills development and an increased passion for the game.
“Having fun,” Lemire says of the most important skills he works to emphasize. “Making sure the drills are fun for them while they’re learning. It’s a lifelong skill, so if we can establish that right away that’s what we want to do.”
Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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