The sound of pucks hitting the boards and students calling for a pass breaks up what otherwise was a quiet morning at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
It’s the sound of the Pacific Rim Hockey Academy, a hockey program run for Prince Rupert Middle School (PRMS) students.
The academy is now in its second year at PRMS, which was the first Rupert school to incorporate it.
Approximately 30 students are enrolled in the program at PRMS this year. Craig Munro teaches the course, along with the help of five or six others.
“I think it’s a good idea because it combines both a sport with school,” he said after a puck handling session with the kids.
The students attend the course four to five days a week. They have ice times on Mondays and Fridays and dryland on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes, they get together on Wednesday afternoons for fitness. They might go for a hike or a swim or even a run.
“They’re on the ice almost every day, so their skating improves, their puck handling improves, so just all around, they are going to improve by the end of it,” said Munro.
He’s impressed at the dedication of the students, some who have practises with their other teams as early as 6 a.m. and then go to dry land training with the academy.
The program will help give the kids an understanding of what it might be like playing hockey while at university later on down the road, should they choose that route.
It’s important for them as well because there aren’t as many opportunities in Prince Rupert for additional ice time, besides what they might get with their teams, said the PRMS teacher.
“This is a nice way to get extra ice time and then again, it combines with school so you’re kind of doing it all at once,” he said.
The academy covers nearly all aspects of hockey skills, including basic strides, crossovers, puck handling, shooting, breakouts, power plays and penalty kills.
“We try and cover it all,” Munro said.
The program works in collaboration with schools and is a credited course that students voluntarily enrol in. The academy debuted at Charles Hays Secondary School this year as well.