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20

November

5 Hockey Reasons To Be Thankful 

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter

Thanksgiving is an awesome time for hockey players to pause during the break in the action and reflect on the great things to appreciate this season!

Coaches
Coaches play an integral part in the development of hockey players and if you are fortunate enough to have a really good coach, make sure they know how much you appreciate them! It takes a lot of time, energy and dedication to coach youth hockey teams and what you see on the ice from a coach during practice is only part of the story. There is a lot of practice preparation that goes into that one hour practice session and game strategy and oftentimes the coaches are the last to leave the rink after a game or practice. To this day I can still remember my favorite coaches and the important skills they taught me!

Equipment
Technology advancements in equipment over the recent years has been nothing short of amazing. Protective equipment like shoulder pads, gloves and pants (breezers) that used to absorb sweat and water and up weighing what seemed like five pounds heavier at the end of the game, have been replaced with ultra lightweight and super durable protective equipment. Skates are amazingly light and players are spoiled not having to go through a week long painful – sometimes tearful – break them in. Perhaps the greatest advancement has been in stick technology as once a player is strong enough to benefit from the flex, the ability to develop a crazy hard shot is just a matter of putting in the time.

Parents
Hockey parents are the greatest sports parents ever. Parents willingly wake up long before the sun comes up only to stand in a freezing cold ice arena for that 6 a.m. mid-January practice. They travel hundreds and thousands of miles each season and attend enough weekend tournaments that they are on a first name basis with the front desk at the hotel. The dedication of hockey parents is awesome!

Opportunities 
There are more opportunities than ever for hockey players to develop their skills. From regular season hockey teams to in-season weekly skill camps and clinics. There are plenty of AAA teams and of course summer hockey camps and summer hockey schools. Skill development is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are so many great opportunities for players to master the fundamental skills required to reach their full potential!

The Game of Hockey
Perhaps that best thing to be thankful for is the also the most simplistic, the basic fact that kids have the opportunity to play the greatest sport in the world! Hockey has brought so much excitement, joy and happiness, taught so many life lessons, developed so many friendships and brought so many people together in such a positive way. Enjoy the season, fight through the adversity and always remember that hockey is a sport to be enjoyed, win or lose!

Thanks for reading and from our hockey family to yours, have a great Thanksgiving holiday and we hope to see you at the rink soon!

 

 

13

June

Are You A Big Time Player?

Posted by Greg Carter
Greg Carter Hockey School

Big game players combine their talent and drive to be game changers.

The Stanley Cup Finals is a great time of year. As Wayne Gretzky summed it up in a recent interview “You know that you are in a special place when you look at the out of town scoreboard and there are no games being played.”

Other than the one you are in of course, which at this time of year means only one thing, the Stanley Cup!

There is no bigger stage in hockey than the Stanley Cup, when everything is on the line during an awesome seven game series. It’s the culmination of the season and the playoffs, and the game is being played at an entirely different level. The excitement and adrenaline is at its peak.

So what are some of the key factors in managing all of the stress, excitement and emotions and stepping up and being a big time player in a big time situation?  Here are some common traits of big time players that I’ve seen over the years.

•    As the games and the stakes rise, so too does the play of big game players.  Big game players have the innate ability to keep bringing the energy and leadership that it takes to get the job done. In clutch situations these are the players that are ready and prepared to make it happen. And often times do make it happen.

•    Big game players are those that WANT to be in the ice in overtime and in key situations. They want the puck on their stick, they want to be out there playing great defense to create an offensive opportunity. Big time players have the talent, confidence and determination to make it happen. They are only thinking one thing, not IF we are going to win, but HOW we are going to win. And they want to be out there for every shift to make it happen.

•    As the old cliché goes, “Hard work only comes before success in the dictionary.” Big game players know this, and understand that in order to be successful in that one defining moment, they have to train hard to get there. They shoot pucks. They lift weights. They practice and train with a purpose and with one goal in mind: converting the opportunity that they get to win the big prize. They know that they may only get one chance, and in that moment they know it’s their time to shine.

All players dream of being in the championship games at all levels. And as you watch the Stanley Cup and realize what it means to the best hockey players in the world to be playing for the top prize, you quickly understand that it takes a special player to rise to the occasion and be a big game player.

We hope the Stanley Cup Finals inspired you to train hard this summer, and that you are successful in your very own big games!

The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks game last Sunday was awesome on many levels. Playing hockey in the great outdoors is not only fun and entertaining because of the unique setting and outdoor atmosphere, but also because of the action on the ice and the lessons that can be learned. It just seems as though when these multi-million dollar athletes get the opportunity to play in one of these events there are more smiles, more energy and more ‘game’.

After watching all of the action, here are some of the key takeaways that can make youth hockey players better at their own game.

Creativity Reigns. Great players are creative, they know how to create space, buy time and make moves that keep the opposition guessing. For those fortunate to have the opportunity to skate outdoors in the colder climates, ‘rink-ratting’ down at the local park is something that every goal scorer looks back on with fond memories. Great moves are born in the great outdoors, where creativity reigns.

Energy & Excitement. This time of the season is a grind for players as they head into the stretch drive and playoffs. Good coaches find a way to keep the energy and excitement at a high level in players, and Sunday it was evident that playing outdoors had both teams bringing it to a level that both fans and coaches could be proud of. Youth players around the country were surly chomping at the bit to get an outside game of their own going in the driveway or local park; and for good reason.

Fun & Phenomenal. Playing hockey should be fun, and when players are passionate about what they are doing and having fun doing it, success will follow. Anytime a player starts to get down, I always remind them that it’s just a game and that they should be enjoying every practice and every game, every single day! It was clear Sunday the players were having a fun and phenomenal time.

Greatest Game on Earth. One of the NHL’s taglines is that hockey is the Greatest Game on Earth. Watching the Stadium Series games being played outdoors in the elements is only confirmation of this, and that hockey really is the best sport. Watching some of the best players in the world compete outdoors and talk about it like they were back in Peewees or Bantams was extremely refreshing.

Good luck in your push to the playoffs and remember to bring the excitement and energy that you saw in the Stadium Series this past weekend! And if you do, success will follow!

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