Cariboo Elite Hockey Camp finally has the use of facilities to match the training talent they bring in.
While they have made do with the facilities in Rink 2 for the first three years of the camp, this year they are improving the skating, shooting, puck handling and goal tending of Quesnel’s players in the new West Fraser Centre.
Shane Thon, one of the founders of the program, is effusive in his praise of the new arena.
“The biggest thing is just the overall layout,” he says.
“The rink is great, the dressing rooms empty right out onto the bench, so it’s a lot easier to watch the kids and make sure they’re coming to the rink from their other activities.
“The lobby is also perfect for our merchandise and for registration and getting the jerseys out. So overall, it’s a lot more convenient that Rink Two.”
Week one of the two-week program is a skills session with former NHLers Ed Patterson and Chris Murray, who have come up from Kamloops to give local kids a taste of top-notch training in their own backyards.
Participants from Prince George, Williams Lake and even a couple from Vancouver Island have joined the Quesnel locals for some intensive practice and drills that are bound to up their game significantly before hockey season begins.
“Usually at this stage you start seeing little spurts, especially with the young pod who are getting used to the instructors and some of the obstacles that they have out there,” says Thon.
“It’s really nice to see their skating improve as well as some of their shot accuracy and edging thanks to these great instructors.”
Next week a power skating instructor from AKHockey in Kelowna will further develop the young players’ ability to race for pucks and zoom from line to line.
Although the branding of the program might be elite, Thon says that players of all skill levels are able to benefit from the camp.
“It’s the trainers who are elite,” he says. “[The camp] is not just for rep kids, it’s not just for the kids who are perennial superstars, it’s for everyone. [The coaches] won’t care if you wore a C last year or it’s your second year of novice.
“You might be a house player, but the things that you get from these guys are going to be great.”