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Hockey Tournaments

Minor Hockey Tournaments: April 26-May 2

Every week, Elite Level Hockey will be previewing some of the best minor hockey tournaments in North America during the spring hockey and winter seasons. Tournaments are not ranked in any way and are selected to help promote boy’s and girl’s minor hockey at all levels and age groups.

Windy City Rumble

The Windy City Rumble features Boys and Girls from Elite AAA, AAA, and AA teams and runs from April 30 – May 2, 2021.

The Chicago based tournament already has over 90 teams scheduled to play in 19 different divisions, ranging from U8 – U18.  Games will take place in several different arenas located in the surrounding downtown area of Illinois. 

Teams are coming from across the United States, from places like Ohio, Iowa, and of course, Illinois. 

View tournament stats, results and schedules. 

New Jersey Spring Classic

The New Jersey Spring Classic takes place in Randolph, NJ. From April 20 – May 2, 2021. This hockey tournament includes divisions boys U10, U12, and U14 from the A level. Tournament format is a Round Robin with playoffs, 4 game minimum.  Teams from all around New Jersey will put their skills to the test in each division bracket.

View game schedule and results. 

Falling Water

The Falling Water hockey tournament takes place in Oregon and Middleton, Wisconsin from April 30 – May 2, 2021. Divisions include U10, U12, U14, U16 HSJV and U18 HSV. 

Teams from Illinois, Michigan, New York and more, will be competing and are guaranteed a 4-game minimum.  Teams that are a part of the Bloomington Thunder, Jr. Tradesman, and Vipers Hockey programs, as well as others, will be competing in multiple divisions in the tournament. 

View tournament stats, results and schedules.

Finnesota Cup 

Finnesota Cup is girls only invitations that takes place in Eden Prairie, MN. from April 30 – May 2, 2021. This hockey tournament includes girls U8-U12 divisions that will battle in a 4-game guarantee with a possible bonus game. 

Championship games will be livestreamed and will have a 5 minute 4-on-4 OT if necessary. 

View tournament stats, results and schedules.

Other tournaments to watch out for this week:

  • TFH Summer 3v3
  • PIC Keg Cup
  • Chicago Ultimate Hockey Tournaments
  • Austin Showdown
  • Mountain Dew Blast (Multiple tournaments)
  • Alex Ice Breaker
  • Motown Cup Tournament Series
  • Windy City Rumble
  • Las Vegas Draft Experience
  • Doritos Spring Challenge
  • 2021 Hockey Fights MS Massachusetts Benefit Games
  • Shock Doctor AAA Shootout
  • BC Spring Showdown
  • Puckmasters
  • Falling Water
  • NAHC Early Bird
  • Bad to the Bone
  • AAU Spring Grinder Tournament
  • New Jersey Spring Classic
  • CCM Showdown
  • 2021 USA Hockey-Chipotle Youth National Championships
  • Play Hockey Invitational

The post Minor Hockey Tournaments: April 26-May 2 appeared first on Elite Level Hockey.

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Hockey

Meet The Fastest Stick Taper in the World

When Shane Hoskin’s son Trevor asked his dad if he could tape a hockey stick faster than Tiktoker joeysofo, who had issued the Tape Job challenge on Tiktok, he gave one simple answer, “Yup.”

Claiming to be the fastest stick taper on the app, what joeysofo didn’t know was that, growing up, Hoskin worked at a sporting goods store called Four Seasons Sports in Belleville, Ont., for five years.

Their specialty … taping hockey sticks.

Hoskin grew up playing minor hockey in Belleville, where he was successful enough to be drafted into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

However, after a brief stint with the London Knights he returned home to attend school and find work. 

That’s how he wound up at Four Seasons Sports.

At the time, the store was run by brothers Ike and Taso Christopher. Their family still runs the store today. 

When a stick was purchased, one of the unique things the Christopher brothers did to entice customers was cut and then tape the stick in front of them at a fast pace. 

“When Ike and Taso did this, I kind of thought that was cool because the look on the kids’ faces were phenomenal. So, I always took old used tape they had in the back and I would practice,” said Hoskin, “I got to a point where I could do it.”

It turned out to be a good marketing technique for the store.

“As soon as you would tape a stick for a kid from say Oshawa, or Kitchener they would go back to their teammates and say ‘You should’ve seen these guys tape these hockey sticks,’ well the next thing you know we were sold out of hockey sticks,” said Hoskin.

After a day of taping sticks at the shop he would often leave with bandages on his fingers.

The “trick” he says, is keeping pressure between your finger and the inside of the tape roll, instead of letting the roll spin around your fingers. 

Other than that, Hoskin recommends having good stability at the base of the stick, so it doesn’t move around, good tape (he uses Howies), and practice.

However, a good tape job is not always about speed.

“I grew up with guys that would take twenty minutes to tape their stick just to make sure it’s perfect,” he added, “guys in the NHL all have their quirks and stuff like that so there’s a lot of personality in how you adopt it.”

Over 20 million people have now gotten a glimpse of Hoskin’s personality since the Tiktok of him destroying the Tape Job challenge went viral. 

@trevorhoskin34

#duet with @joeysofo I can’t tell who won? Rematch? 😂🏒 #ew

♬ original sound – joey

Sporting a Red Deer sweater in the video, which has led to some people dubbing him Rick from Red Deer, though he is not sure why, Hoskin completed the tape job in under five seconds.

“I hadn’t taped a stick in over two years before he (Trevor) asked me, and that was my first try,” said Hoskin.

Sorry joeysofo, but it looks like the fastest hands in the north go to Rick from Red Deer, or rather Shane Hoskin.

Although his hockey playing career ended with the London Knights, Hoskin has since gone on to coach the Belleville Bearcats, where his daughter played, and the Napanee Raiders, who are a Junior hockey team in the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL). 

Now a Zamboni driver, Hoskin was surprised by his overnight Tiktok notoriety.

“I taped it and my son posted it and then the next day we woke up and it’s at like 12 million views,” said Hoskin. 

Radio stations in Belleville began calling him and one asked if he knew how big it was to have a video rack up as many views as his did, “I said I have no clue, I don’t follow Tiktok,” said Hoskin. 

Admittedly Hoskin, 51, is still learning about the relatively new media platform. 

The video-sharing social networking app exploded in popularity in 2020 with its main users being people aged 10-19.

Hoskin’s son Trevor has since posted two more videos of his dad, one of him attempting the Tape Job challenge while blindfolded, and the other is titled Knob Edition, where Hoskin tapes the knob end of the hockey stick instead of the blade. 

It currently has over one million views.

The post Meet The Fastest Stick Taper in the World appeared first on Elite Level Hockey.

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Hockey Tournaments

Minor Hockey Tournaments: April 19-25

Every week, Elite Level Hockey will be previewing some of the best minor hockey tournaments in North America during the spring hockey and winter seasons. Tournaments are not ranked in any way and are selected to help promote boy’s and girl’s minor hockey at all levels and age groups.

The Big One

The Big One (Girls Festival) takes place in Prior Lake, MN. from April 23-25, 2021. This hockey tournament is invitational only for girls’ divisions U14, U12, and U10. Players on the Hawks, Bolts, Bees, Habs, and Pens will showcase their skills and battle to place in the championship game at Bloomington Ice Garden.

The finals will consist of a livestreamed game including an announcer.

View game schedule and results

NAHC Early Bird

The North America Hockey Classic (NAHC) Early Bird takes place in Winnipeg, MB. from April 29 – May 2, 2021. Players in the AAA division with age groups ranging from 2007-2014 will battle in a 5-game guarantee. WIHL Scouts will have three 20-minute periods to watch players and teams showcase their talent on the ice. 

This tournament will have a real time online player and team stat tracker available online.

View Schedule and Results 

Mountain Dew Blast

The Mountain Dew Blast tournament for AAA level hockey programs in Minnesota continues this weekend.

Players in the 2008-2010 age bracket from the St. Cloud Division will face-off at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and the MAC (Municipal Athletic Complex). 

This will be the tenth consecutive year the two venues have played host to the Boys Open St. Cloud Division.

Last weekend saw four teams take home championship trophies. For the 2011 age group, the SDP Premier and Pokegama Factory Hockey teams took first place in their divisions. While the Fargo Grinders and the St. Cloud Grizzly’s took first place at the 2012/2013 age group.

Read more on the tournament

Music City Invitational

The Music City Invitational is part of a series of tournaments put on by the popular furniture and appliance store the Brick.

The Music City Invitational which runs Apr. 22 – 25 in Nashville, Tenn., typically sees teams from all across North America in the 2009 elite, and 2010 AA Boy’s division.

Games will take place at the Nashville Predators run Ford Ice Centre facilities in Antioch and Bellevue.

This tournament stems from the widely popular Brick tournament that began in Edmonton, Alta. in 1990. The original Brick tournament has seen players like Steven Stamkos, Auston Matthews, and P.K Subban. 

Past winners of the Music City Invitational include Toronto Pro Hockey (2016), Team Pacific (2017 and 2018), and Chicago Elite AAA (2020).

View Schedule and Results

Other Minor Hockey Tournaments This Week

  • 2021 CCM Boston Spring Invite
  • Sopel Shootout Showcase
  • Music City Invitational
  • Spring Showdown
  • Spring Thaw
  • FT Lauderdale
  • Mountain Dew Blast
  • Battle in the Desert
  • Battle on the Border
  • Louisville Puck Drop
  • ThunderBird
  • St. Louis Ultimate Hockey Tournament
  • Chicago Spring Classic
  • Boston CAN AM Hockey
  • Seattle CAN AM Hockey
  • Irish South Bend Cup Tournament Series
  • The Big One
  • Ontario Women’s Independent Provincial Championship 
  • Alberta Champions Cup
  • Rock’N Roll Tournament Series
  • NAHC Early Bird
  • North American Spring Championships
  • Minnesota Meltdown AAA
  • Play Hockey Invitational

The post Minor Hockey Tournaments: April 19-25 appeared first on Elite Level Hockey.

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Hockey

Hockey With Hultzy: Episode 1

The post Hockey With Hultzy: Episode 1 appeared first on Elite Level Hockey.

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Hockey

What Does Success Mean in Minor Hockey

None of us think we’re that parent.

Let’s be honest, most of us roll our eyes when we have to do online Respect in Sport-style courses, and laugh or cringe when we hear stories about crazy hockey parents freaking out on coaches or — worse yet — putting ridiculous pressure and unrealistic expectations on their kids.

But if none of us are that parent, then who is?

The sad reality is far too many parents still display ludicrous behavior every season, both at the arena and behind the scenes at home, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are, indeed, that parent.

What are you pushing your kids towards? What is about minor sports that causes rational people to become, well, irrational – to put in nicely?

There’s nothing wrong with advocating for your child and encouraging them to be the best they can, but a big reason we put our kids in sports — aside from the athletic aspect — is to learn how to function within a team, take direction, and through time, develop some independence from us, something that pays off for them in school and life. 

And, perhaps most importantly, to have fun (more on that below).

 

Unfortunately what happens far too often is that many kids lose their love of the game because of what their parents may do and say.

So why do we act like this? What is the ultimate goal?

I won’t bore you with the statistics, but one worth noting is that the average kid playing minor hockey in Canada has a 0.11% of making the NHL. Forget the pros, no matter how good your kid is (or you think they are), they still have a very small chance of playing high-end junior or collegiate.

I spent nearly 20 years as journalist, most of it in sports, including serving as the Sports Editor of the Calgary Sun. I left four years ago to become the Director of Digital Content and Social Media for the Calgary Flames, so I’ve seen it all professionally.

Though I’ve always been keenly aware of just how unlikely it is to find success at the highest levels of hockey, I had a moment that stood out to me not long after I started with the Flames and attended the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C.

The Flames, Oilers, Canucks and Jets all sent their top prospects to play in the week-long tournament in September. The person many consider the best player in the world, Connor McDavid, once skated in it.

As I stood and watched warmups before one game, it really hit me that every player out there had likely been the McDavid of their association growing up, an absolute phenom in minor hockey and likely a standout in junior. Yet, here they were, many of them unlikely to become full-time NHLers, perhaps able to make a career in the minors if they were lucky. And they were once the cream of the crop.

It wasn’t an ‘aha moment,’ but something that galvanized what I already knew — and far too few people still won’t admit: The majority of your child’s hockey experience will likely come when they are an adult, playing in some type of rec league. And that is if they don’t quit all together first.

Let that sink in and really think about it for a moment.

Hockey should be fun: Scoring goals, making plays, skating, spending time with your friends. When it’s not fun, you’ll have issues. As someone who is around NHLers every day, I can tell that even when pros don’t have fun, things are tough for them. If that’s what happens to adults at the pinnacle of the game, what do you think happens to kids?

There’s a good chance you got your child into hockey because you love it, you’re a lifelong fan and you want them to be the same. You certainly don’t want them to quit playing and, worse yet, develop a hate for it.

It led me to think up what I call the 24-year-old old rule. We all know the 24-hour rule – don’t reach out to your team’s coach or manager until you’ve spent that long thinking and composing yourself. So what’s the 24-year-old rule? Simple – where do you want your kid to be when they are 24? Do you want them still playing the game in some capacity, or have given it up – maybe for good.

At the end of the day, there are many roads your kid may take during their minor hockey days, and most lead to the same place.  When we forget that, we can make some really bad decisions.

So always think of the 24-year-old rule and ask yourself, am I taking the fun out of the game for them? It’s one of the most important questions you can ask yourself as a parent.

The post What Does Success Mean in Minor Hockey appeared first on Elite Level Hockey.

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Hockey

USA Hockey National Championships Preview

Every week, Elite Level Hockey will be previewing some of the best minor hockey tournaments in North America during the spring hockey and winter seasons. Tournaments are not ranked in any way and are selected to help promote boy’s and girl’s minor hockey at all levels and age groups.

The USA Hockey National Championship for youths, girls, and high school division players begins on April 15, 2021.

Over 7,000 players will compete for one of American hockey’s highest honours as teams from Arizona, Utah, Nebraska and all across America will be competing in the tournament.

The players will be heading to one of seven different host cities which include: Omaha, Dallas, Maryland Heights, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, West Chester and Denver. 

The USA Hockey National Championship will showcase some of the best hockey talent America has to offer. Past alumni of the tournament include NHLers Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, and Joe Pavelski.

The High School division will kick off the tournament in Omaha, Nebraska on Apr. 15.

Boys Tier 1 and Tier 2 each have a total of 16 teams. Teams will begin the tournament using a pool play format. There are four separate pools with predetermined titles; USA, OLYMPIC, NHL, and LIBERTY.

The top two teams in each pool will secure a spot in the playoffs.

 The Girls division has a total of 8 teams in two pools, AMERICAN and NATIONAL. Similarly, the top two teams in each pool will advance to the finals.

The Division 1 tournament will begin with the Notre Dame Saints taking on the East Lake Eagles at Ralston Arena, while at the same time Glenelg HS will face Edina at Moylan Iceplex.

Division 2 will see Evansville Thunder Purple Team take on Flower Mound/Marcus high school, also at Ralston Arena, and the Seminole Sharks will play the Gillette Grizzlies at Moylan Iceplex.

For the Girls, the Premier Prep Forest will take on HPHL Polar Bears while WI Blackcats play Wyoming Girls HS, also at Ralston Arena and Moylan Iceplex.

Follow the action at https://nationals.usahockey.com/

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What Kind of Hockey Mom Are You?

What kind of hockey mom are you?

I’m a hockey mom. I really don’t like the label because of some of the ways hockey moms are portrayed in the media as comical characters. Some of those portrayals come from those “over the top” moms of real life, but most of us aren’t like that. 

When my child started hockey I didn’t know what to expect. My early experience was one of 6 a.m. practices and nursing my Tim’s coffee while shivering in the stands. I didn’t really see the different mom types until the second season. I started out as the Momma Bear kind of mom. My daughter, at age 5, needed help with gear, encouragement to participate and to wipe her frustrated tears. I helped in the change room and stood by the boards when she sat on the ice and wouldn’t get up. Already involved in figure skating lessons she was a relatively good skater but she was so frustrated at not being able the use her stick properly I thought she would quit after one season. 

Season Two was SO different. She was confident and determined. No longer did I have to help with her gear, as she needed only her skates to be tied. So once laces were done, I joined some other parents in the stands and learned the hierarchy of hockey moms. 

Some hockey moms are amazing, some are scary, but they all love their kids exactly the same amount. For fun, let’s take a look at some of the different breeds of hockey moms you may encounter. 

The Mama Bear

Somewhat overprotective, this mom fiercely protects their player. Often their kid starts off by needing a little extra help. Maybe they started the sport before they were ready and as such their kid needs more attention. Sometimes their kid is a bit smaller than the rest and gets hurt a lot. Sometimes they have special needs or medical conditions. This mom hovers too much. She carries the hockey bag, wipes their tears and basically babies them. Most Mama Bear moms outgrow this behaviour as their kid becomes more competent. If they are still like this by the time their kid is a tween,  then their player is probably mortified.

The Supermodel 

I was so envious of this mom in my early hockey mom days. She shows up in those killer high heeled boots and gorgeous coat. Her hair and makeup are perfect. Her nails are freshly done and it is obvious that she doesn’t tie skates. She jauntily wears a scarf in team colours tied expertly around her neck. She has a thermal Yeti mug with contents purchased from an upscale coffee shop on the way to the rink. Even her rink blanket looks designer. She gets sideway glances of appreciation from the hockey dads and some worried stares from moms. She is sometimes the subject of gossip as to who she might be trying to influence. But in reality she sacrificed an extra hour of sleep to look this good. This is a lot of work to attend hockey practices. She is likely a somewhat new hockey mom feeling insecure. Either that or she just raced to the rink from work.

The Gossip Columnist

This mom knows the 411 on everyone and everything to do with your hockey association. She is the first to welcome new moms. The Gossip Columnist can find out the scoop on the new player and their parents, siblings, grandparents in minutes. Anything juicy that you share with her will be whispered to the nearest person before your butt hits the bleacher seats. She will spread gossip to anyone who will listen. This is usually done whispered and with over-the-shoulder checks. These words sometimes include backhanded compliments. Who is she talking about? It will be a player, parent, coach or anybody who is deemed a threat to their child’s success on the team. They love to comment on the coaching strategy, including which players are being favoured and which players don’t deserve to be there. They are usually the parent of a player who is middle-of-the-pack in terms of skill. They are genuinely worried that their player will be cut and will do what they can to prevent it.

Hint: When they try to gossip with you it is best to smile, nod, then excuse yourself to go to get something from the car. 

The Athlete Supporter

This mom shows up to the rink with her game face on. She thinks her kid is the best no matter what their skill level. She wearing team colors and carries a supersized coffee. She has visions of her child in the big leagues, but knows that this is as good as it might get so she’s living it to the fullest. She has sat in freezing cold ice rinks so much that she knows where all the Tim’s are in a 15km radius of every arena. She eats rink food and her waistline may show a slight expansion from poutine and gravy. She wears a toque to cover the hair she hasn’t had time to wash. She proudly wears a shirt that says “hockey mom, don’t puck with me” but is too much of a sweetheart to live up to the saying.

She is at every game, tournament and practice. She can be a bit much sometimes but you know her heart is in the right place. She has a compliment for every kid as they come off the ice. 

The Agent

She actually has no doubt that her kid is going to play in the NHL. Don’t dare question it. She was already scouting out scholarships in the U7 years. She treats her child like a project and she is going to succeed at all costs. Her child does extra training outside of the regular team practises. They have shot coaches, fitness coaches and a strict diet that include questionable pre-game protein shakes. Hockey is a year round, 24/7 activity. She seeks out the best teams, coaches and training she can find. The kid has the best equipment, a rink in their backyard and plastic ice in their driveway. This mom acts like she cares about the team’s success but really only sees the team as a vehicle to aid her superstar. If the team is winning, then her kid is doing well, and the coach is amazing. If the team is losing and her kid is doing well, then the teammates aren’t pulling their weight. If the team is struggling and her player is losing ice time, then the coach is an idiot. They will offer advice as to what the team needs in the form of concerns. Most coaches learn to deal with the Agent early. The Agent’s child is often under a lot of pressure and smart coaches are quick to act as a buffer between the child and parental expectations.

The Social Director 

You need one of these moms on every team. They are often the manager or team trainer. They help out in the dressing rooms. They fundraise for team, plan social events, team dinners, order uniforms, plan hotels and outings at tournaments. Coaches love them as they help the team function smoothly. They are always recruiting for volunteers to help out their latest event. They are friendly to all but always busy flitting from one group of people to the next. Their enthusiasm is infectious. At tournaments, they will be wherever the party is … heck they probably organized it. They will make sure all are invited. However, they can be overly involved and always seem to be hitting you up for funds or volunteer time. 

The Critic

This mom is never happy. They complain about the weather, traffic, parking, rink food, how long it took to get there and the temperature of the arena. Ask them about their day and you’ll hear how busy they are, how works sucks, how the time of the game is ridiculous, how hungry they are, how cold they are. No matter the positive spin you offer, they find some flaw. They have opinions on the coaching strategy, lineups, how much ice the coaches’ kid is getting and the how bad the refs are. She will be found in the stands with the gossip Columnist and the Agent who enjoy bellyaching as well.

The Phantom

On every team there is a kid whose parents never seem to be there. The player is dropped at the door of the arena as mom drives off in her SUV. Where is Mom going? There are many reasons this mom may disappear. The top reason is time management. Often she is off to another rink to drop off or pick another kid before racing back to get their player. They may be off to get groceries while their child practices. They may be in the car, at a nearby coffee shop or in a quiet corner of the arena working. Some sneak off to the gym or run an errand. But if you watch, you’ll see them reappear at game time. They may only see one period, but they make sure to see enough so their child knows they are there.

The Guard

This mom stands sentry by the boards away from the mom pack. She says little more than a passing greeting to the other moms. Her expression is unreadable. She keeps to herself and avoids the group whenever she can. Why? Is she shy? Doesn’t like people? Nope …more likely is she is being cautious. She is typically a veteran hockey mom who has been around enough in her time and has seen all the rink politics. Her child may have been cut from a team, perhaps unfairly and she isn’t going to risk being a parent cut. She will listen while you talk but prefers not to socialize much. 

The Loud Mouth

You hear them before you see them. They are loud in the hall. They are loud in the stands. They yell at everything. If their kid is on a breakaway, block your ears or risk going deaf. They carry a cowbell or a horn but their voice doesn’t need accompaniment. Their battle cry is “Go, go, go”, “Shoooooot”, or “Ref, what was that call?”. They love hockey and love watching their kids play. They cheer on every kid on the ice but really go nuts when their player has the puck. Every game is like a championship game. They yell at refs, opposing parents, and coaches from the stands. They are not above a brawl in the stands if provoked. They usually sit with the Athlete Supporters.

The Mother Goose

This mom arrives at the rink with an entourage of kids. All are younger than their player. One is usually in a stroller. She carries a bag full of snacks and toys to entertain her crew but is not above buying a tub of popcorn or cotton candy to get her goslings to sit still. Her kids run around the rink with little supervision while Mom tries to socialize and watch the game. This is her big outing for the week. She is quick to sneak some “me time” when an older sibling of another player watches her young charges while she watches the game. Often once the game is done she rounds up her crew and they head off to another venue where one of the younger goslings has an activity. 

The Squad 

This group of moms travel in a pack. Usually a group of 3 or 4, they are friends beyond the rink. They hockey together, vacation together, drink together and school committee together. Their kids have been friends since early hockey and their kids have been on the same team every year since. They take care of each other’s kids. At least one of their husbands are part of the coaching team to help ensure this dynamic continues as long as their kids are playing hockey. They are friendly, welcoming but also keep a close eye on who they let into their little squad. They feel entitled to their kids’ positions on the team and protect it fiercely.

The Goalie Mom

This is a mom with nerves of steel. Their baby is standing in the net while pucks fly at their head. The game’s outcome often relies on how well their player does. She arrives at the rink a little early as her player has extra gear and wants to make sure her child has dressing room space. She is adept at pulling straps on goalie pads tight. She wear pants in which she can kneel on the floor. During the game, if the teams has two goalies, the  goalie moms sit together. They understand each other. They worry about their goalie getting hurt as players rush the net. They worry about their kids mental health when the team is down by five goals. They hold their breath during sudden death and shootouts. And during it all they have the calm demeanour of a yoga teacher. 

The Quiet Superhero

This is the hockey mom all of us moms should aspire too. Smart and genuine, you know exactly what you are getting with this mom. They may not love hockey but they have a kid who does, so they support their child’s passion. If their child chose to be a figure skater tomorrow, they would support them in that too. They learn about the sport in order to support their player. They reinforce what the coaches are teaching. They never undermine the coaches authority. They fundraise when asked, make potluck contributions and pay fees on time. They never put any pressure on their child. They cheer enthusiastically for every play and every player. They even clap for the other team when they make a great play. They are always positive and nice to every other mom type…even the ones they don’t like.

What kind mom am I now? I’m a crossbreed. I aspire to Quiet Superhero, have moments of Athlete Supporter. I find myself often sitting in the stands with The Squad but I’m not one of them. In reality, I feel most hockey mom are a mix of several types rather than the stereotype extremes portrayed above.

Now excuse me, I have to run to the car … the Gossip is heading my way.

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Hockey

Marlies Sale A Sign Of The Future For Minor Hockey?

When NHLers John Tavares (pictured) of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Sam Gagner of the Detroit Red Wings announced they were acquiring the Toronto Marlboros organization of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, it was big news.

After all, the Marlboros are considered the most successful and productive franchise in the GTHL, the world’s largest and most powerful youth hockey outfit. But there was an even larger than life quotient to this particular move, since it was not only two former alumni who were making the acquisition, but also two prominent NHL players.

Tavares is captain of the Leafs, the most prevalent NHL team in Canada. He was the first player chosen in the 2009 NHL entry draft by the New York Islanders. Prior to that, Tavares was the first player to be granted exceptional status by the Canadian Hockey League, meaning he was permitted to play in the Ontario Hockey League at age 15. The exceptional status clause in the CHL rulebook is often referred to as the John Tavares rule because of this fact.

Gagner was the sixth player chosen in the 2007 NHL entry draft by the Edmonton Oilers. On Feb. 3, 2012, he garnered points on every goal the Oilers scored during an 8-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, making him the first player in 23 years and only the 11th in NHL history to collect at least eight points in a single game.

Long before either were NHL stars, both Tavares and Gagner were Marlboros, part of what is often considered to be the greatest youth hockey team ever assembled, the ‘89 Marlboros. Five players off that team — forwards Tavares, Gagner and Akim Aliu and defensemen Brendan Smith and Cody Goloubef — played in the NHL. Three of them — Tavares, Gagner and Smith — were first-round NHL draft choices.

That the two most gifted players off this legendary club have determined purchasing the same club is a wise financial decision opens up a world of future possibilities. Will other NHLers come to the conclusion that buying into youth hockey organizations is something they like to add to their investment portfolios? Are Gagner and Tavares setting a new trend?

Gagner admitted that since the news became public knowledge, several other NHLers have approached him, curious about how it all came about and how they might pursue a similar transaction.

Started In Junior

In 2000, former NHLers Dale and Mark Hunter opted to purchase the OHL’s London Knights. Little did they know at the time that they were creating a new revenue lifeline for major junior franchises and establishing a trend for others of their brethren to follow.

Seeing the success the Hunters enjoyed — and continue to enjoy — with the Knights, other NHLers began buying up junior clubs. Former NHL players Bob Boughner and Warren Rychel acquired their hometown Windsor Spitfires, eventually selling the club for significant profit.. Darryl Sydor and Mark Recchi purchased the Kamloops Blazers. Derian Hatcher and David Legwand own the Sarnia Sting. Scott Walker is co-owner of the Guelph Storm. Patrick Roy owns the Quebec Remparts.

That landscape looks to be changing. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, who first broke the news of Tavares and Gagner taking over the Marlies on Hockey Night In Canada, has since reported that he’s heard from other NHL players seeking to garner info on how they could acquire a youth hockey organization.

“I think they’re going to look at it now as, ‘How can we be involved with minor hockey teams?’” Friedman said on the 31 Thoughts podcast. “I think this is going to open the door to more and more current and former NHLers saying, ‘Hey, if the junior hockey space isn’t right for me, maybe this is the one instead.’”

Big Plans

The Marlboros are already a major player on the Toronto youth hockey landscape. Gagner and Tavares envision growing that footprint even deeper into the youth hockey culture.

They are discussing whether they can set up the Marlboros in a similar style to a hockey academy. “I look at the way the model has been changing out west,” Gagner explained to the 31 Thoughts podcast. “The academy model. So we want to look into that.

“My family has always been big on education. Are there ways that we can facilitate that for the next generation of players? It’s something that has been happening in Toronto.”

They entertain operating a universal coaching program where all coaches teach the same philosophy of the game with all age groups.

“It’s going to be all about skill development,” Gagner said. “It was all about the development of us as players and as people (when he was with the Marlboros). The winning took care of itself because we were developing so much.

“I’m always looking for ways to improve and I think I can take that information and help the next generation of player. We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can do with it.”

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Prep School Hockey Super Powers To Form Own League

National Hockey League fans of a certain generation still love to wax poetic about the days of the original six. From 1942-67, the NHL was consistently composed of six teams – the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Perhaps someday, as the Prep Hockey Conference grows in stature and possibly even in size, fans of the new league will feel a similar romance about the original six who got it all started.

Six of the top hockey academies in North America – St. Andrew’s College of Aurora, Ont. and American schools Culver Academies (Culver, Indiana), Mount Saint Charles Academy (Woonsocket, Rhode Island), Northwood School (Lake Placid, New York), Shattuck-St. Mary’s School (Faribault, Minnesota), and South Kent School (Kent, Connecticut) are forming this new conference.

“This is a great first step toward something even bigger,” St. Andrew’s coach David Manning told YorkRegion.com.

The league is projected to begin play for the 2021-22 hockey season. The six teams will be grouped into two divisions. St. Andrew’s, Culver and Shattuck-St. Mary’s will be housed in one division, with South Kent, Northwood and Mount St. Charles in the other.

The two divisions will play an interlocking schedule of games that will work around existing schedules of all of the schools to ensure that they don’t miss out on participating in traditional tournament competitions and other showcase events.

League weekends will be held in each of the six locales to enable players to be showcased in front of pro scouts and college recruiters. A championship weekend is slated to be held in February of 2022 in Minnesota.

Though these six teams face each other virtually every season already, by locking into a league format, it guarantees the highest level of competition available to each school will be engaged in on a regular basis.

“The formation of the PHC has been something we’ve envisioned being a part of and are thrilled to be a founding member with these other outstanding programs,” Manning said. “We can’t wait for that first game next fall and the opportunity to compete and showcase our players in the best prep hockey league in North America.”

Certainly, these are among the true powerhouses when it comes to North American prep school hockey. Shattuck-St. Mary’s list among its alumni Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise. Gary Suter, Ryan Suter and John-Michael Liles came through Culver’s program. Brian Lawton, Bryan Berard, Brian Boucher and Mathieu Schneider are Mount Saint Charles grads.

Mike Richter and Tony Granato played at Northwood. South Kent School alumni include Shayne Gostishehere. South Kent grads Alex Limoges, Keith Petruzzelli, Shane Pinto and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup are all 2021 Hobey Baker Award nominees as the most outstanding player in NCAA hockey.

As for St. Andrews, among the prominent hockey-playing Saints are Alex Newhook, Greg Hotham, Michael Del Zotto and Warren Foegele. Seven members of the 2019-20 Saints team that went 40-6-2 earned NCAA Division I scholarships – Jack Bar (Harvard), Mark Hillier (Merrimack), Devlin O’Brien (Merrimack), Kienan Draper (Miami), Cole Galata (Bentley), Liam Cavan (Merrimack) and Frankie Carogioiello (Miami).

For years, these prep hockey super powers have played each other in exhibition games. Opting to compete in the same league, it’s great exposure for all the players, since such games are guaranteed to generate attendance from both NCAA recruiters and NHL scouts.

“We love playing these games,” Manning said. “These are the games our guys yearn to play. Attaching points and standings to it is nice.

“It will be great for our kids to be in those buildings.”

In the 13 years that Manning has coached the Saints, 46 players have moved on to NCAA programs, while another 11 were NHL draft choices.

St. Andrew’s is the oldest school among this sextet, with a history dating back into the late 1800s. Mount Saint Charles was inaugurated in the 1930s, with Culver and Northwood both launching their programs in the 1970s. South Kent got underway in the 1980s and Shattuck-St. Mary’s is the youngest of the bunch, launching their hockey program in the 1990s.

The goal of this ground breaking conference is to establish relationships within and beyond the hockey world that create a high degree of visibility and positive media exposure for the PHC, its programs and its players.

“It brings together like-minded institutions that are rich in history and tradition and share the pursuit of excellence on and off the ice,” Culver Academies head coach Kevin Patrick said of the PHC. “The opportunity to compete against these six programs will enhance player development and the overall student athlete experience.

“This league will be a great avenue for our current players to showcase their talents.”

More information regarding the PHC can be found on its website at www.thephchockey.com.

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Goalie Guild: Tips From Martin Biron

Before he logged a 13-year career tending goal in the NHL that saw him play 508 regular season games with the Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and New York Rangers, Martin Biron represented his home province of Quebec in both the Provincial Championships – which he won in 1992-93 – and at prestigious amateur tournaments like the Quebec Peewee International Tournament. Playing alongside his younger brother, Mathieu – who played 250 NHL games in his pro career – Martin Biron honed his craft as a pro, first with the Rochester Americans (whom he led to a Calder Cup Final appearance in 1999), then with all three New York-based NHL clubs, as well as the Flyers, whom he starred for in a run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2007-08.

The 43-year-old Biron now works as a successful NHL broadcaster from his home in Buffalo, but he relishes the chance to pass along valuable advice to young up-and-coming goalies. Biron took time to speak with Elite Level Hockey about tips for young netminders and the changes he’d like to see applied to the sport’s amateur side. (Read Part 1 of our interview with Biron, where we discuss his minor hockey career and the path that took him to the NHL.)

What is the best advice you can give to young goalies?

Martin Biron: It changes for me every year. First, I always thought it was to work on your technique. But you always have to be a good skater. People underestimate how important skating is for goalies. When I started playing, they’d put players who can’t skate in net. But my father told me, he said “it would be beneficial to you being a good skater”. 

A friend of the family played goalie in senior hockey, and we’d do ups and down (butterfly exercises) and do a lot of skating, and all my coaches throughout my career emphasized skating. I’m so glad my dad stressed that. And if you don’t have fun, don’t do it. That’s a gimme when it comes to advice.

How does goalie training differ now from when you were in minor hockey?

MB: I think 12-year-olds are so much better than I was when I was their age. So many technical elements of the game I never knew until much later are taught at a very early age now. My style at 18 or 19 was different than it was much later. I also always say I don’t want kids to play just one sport. Play other sports, but if you’re going to spend a week going into a school, take the time to learn the position. 

Is there anything you are seeing in minor hockey these days that you would change?

MB: Well, I don’t like kids changing organizations. Recruiting, I don’t like that part of it. When we played in our area, we just tried to make the team in our area. Now kids change teams at 12 and 13. Now, here in Buffalo, kids (who hail) from South Carolina, are on teams here. They have an uncle in Buffalo or something like that, so they come up here. 

It’s almost more like the (big-league) market. The season isn’t over, and parents are already calling coaches and saying, “I want my kid to play for you”. So that’s much different than it was when I was at a young age. I left home when I was 16, but I was far from my parents. I saw them once every other week, and talked just for a half-hour at the rink. But I was lucky, I had people as billets who I felt like were my second family. But not everyone is that fortunate.

Any tips on breaking a goalie slump for a young player?

MB: A lot of it is mental, because you feel like everyone is watching you. I always say, “Go back to the basics.” A lot of times, goalies who struggle will try to change their games. I’d advise against that. Just be yourself, believe in what got you success. And always go back to your skating.

What is the best way to warm up as a goalie in minor hockey?

MB: A lot of it is hand-eye coordination stuff. Braden Holtby would do visualization stuff. I’m a Formula 1 (auto racing) fan, and they do a lot of things that heighten their vision before a race. In New York, I used to watch (star Rangers goalie Henrik) Lundqvist juggle three balls, and then he’d do it the other way. But just zone in. That’s my best advice.

What was your favourite practise drill as a kid?

MB: Well, I actually hated to do these, but they were beneficial: as a kid, we’d do these up and down ( butterfly exercises) all the time. When I was a kid, butterfly was just beginning. I hated to do it as a kid, but I would just do those constantly. It’s something that improves your game over time, and it improves leg strength and flexibility.

Did you have a goalie coach as a kid, or attend goalie camps? What are the benefits of doing so?

MB: A friend of the family was a goalie coach. I got him in junior one year. I did the (Francois and Benoit) Allaire goalie school, then I worked there for them. That was a way to really prepare for the season. I went to Switzerland with them one year. One coach who had a big impact on me was a man named Gilles Lachance – he was the one that installed a work ethic in me at 14 and 15 that I didn’t know I needed. He was instrumental in how my game improved and evolved.

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