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Goal-setting goaltender: Kristen Campbell paves the way to the National Women’s Team for young Manitoba goalies

High-level female hockey players have been putting the phrase “you play like a girl” to shame for quite some time.

Bauer Hockey recently released a commercial promoting women’s hockey that turned that historically derogatory phrase into one filled with pride. In the commercial, a coach uses female hockey players to elaborate his points, telling one player that he’s skating like Canadian Olympic star Marie-Philip Poulin, while telling another that his wrist shot looked like American superstar Hillary Knight’s.

In Winnipeg, and specifically at Bell MTS Iceplex, those compliments would instead be for goalies to hear that they’re stopping the puck like Kristen Campbell.

Iceplex Manager of Goalie Development Andy Kollar has for years been inspiring young goalies, both male and female, to play like and have the work ethic of Campbell.

“If you think you’re doing enough, you’re not,” said Kollar of what he tells other young goalies who aspire to follow in Campbell’s footsteps.

Campbell, who has most recently been training on the National Women’s Team roster as well as playing in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) Dream Gap Tour with some of women’s hockey’s top players, has been working a long time to get to where she is now.

“I’ve always had that mentality since I was a young girl that I wanted to make it to the highest level possible,” said Campbell. “My goal was the Olympics from when I started playing. My mentality is that every day I can get a little bit better – that’s how I’ve approached hockey and life in general. Each day I want to make the most out of it. I try to exercise every possible resource I have, whether it’s the on-ice part, the sports psychology part, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and all these different things. I feel that in order to get there, I need to be the complete package.”

One of those resources, of course, is Kollar.

“We’ve worked together since I was in high school and I moved to Winnipeg to play prep hockey,” said Campbell, who is originally from Brandon. “He’s been such a great mentor for me on the ice obviously, but off the ice we’ve worked together a lot on my mental game as well. Having that strong relationship off the ice helped me in knowing I had a coach who believed in me so much that I believed in myself.”

Though Campbell has been playing hockey elsewhere for several years now – spending her college career at the University of North Dakota and the University of Wisconsin, and now training out of Calgary with the National Team – she has always come back to train at the Ice Lab at Bell MTS Iceplex with Kollar in the summers and keeps in constant contact with him throughout the year.

“My phone’s storage is always maxed out because of the practice videos she sends,” noted Kollar of their communication and her passion for learning and studying the game. “She’s a real student of the game. She really analyzes plays and options on everything that happens and plays it out in her head. She really knows what players’ thoughts are in a sense. Her hockey IQ is getting so much better, and it’s something she needed to work on instead of becoming stationary.”

That student-of-the-game approach is key to Campbell’s success in his opinion. She is always looking to get better, and never rests on her accomplishments and how far she’s come.

She hasn’t let her off-seasons go to waste either. While she was in college, Campbell notes how helpful it was to come back to Winnipeg in the summers and work with Kollar on specific aspects of her game.

“Andy always wanted more and he knew that I expected more of myself, so we’d always do an hour-long skate and it would be at a pretty high intensity,” said Campbell. “We were always working on fine-tuning my game, and there would be a few areas that we would really try to hit on, whether it was footwork and skating, or my stance, or rebound control. It always felt like he had such a plan for me.”

Kollar saw that hard work and determination early on in his days of coaching Campbell, which leaves him unsurprised by her constant success.

“Probably five years ago, I thought – having seen her and having worked with her – that this is where she was going to get to,” Kollar noted of Campbell training with the national team. “Seeing what she does on a day-to-day basis, a week-to-week basis, a month-to-month basis – before we were telling her to slow down a little bit, but that’s just how she’s wired. Her rise is due to a lot of hard work. She’s done everything she can to put herself in this situation.”

She’s become the perfect role model for Kollar to point to when working with other young goalies. Not only has she shown other athletes what’s possible, but her work ethic is a prime example of the dedication required to succeed at high levels of hockey.

“Young players should be learning from her holistic approach to goaltending,” Kollar added. “I hear a lot of goalies saying they want it. Saying it is one thing, but living it and doing it is another, and Kristen is certainly living it.”

Campbell herself wants to inspire the next generation of goalies in Winnipeg and showed that by spending time as a coach in the Ice Lab in summer 2020. Though Kollar notes that the original idea was to have her be a role model for other young female goalies, her impact reached much farther than that and young male goalies are idolizing her now too.

“Set your goals high,” said Campbell on what she tells young goaltenders. “I know a lot of people talk about goal setting, but realistically you’re never going to get there unless you have that clear picture of where you want to be. If you have that clear picture, there’s no way you’re not going to get there if you’re working towards that goal each day.”

You are your own hero

As a society, we love heroes. They are everywhere – on TV, in movies, and in the sports we watch. The idea of someone swooping in at the last minute to save the day is something that has long been romanticized by our culture.

The pandemic has lasted almost a year-and-a-half now. It has been long, and it has been physically, mentally, and emotionally hard on a lot of people. Many of us probably feel like we are not at our best. Maybe we have gained weight, maybe we don’t feel mentally sharp, maybe we’ve lost touch with people who are important to us, or maybe we feel worn down, tired, slow, and unmotivated. If this is you, it’s okay; we have all been there. I have been there at times over the last year-and-a-half, but here is the truth: no one is coming to save you. Read that again. No one is coming to save you. You are going to get back in shape, lose the weight, improve your mental game, reconnect with people, and feel better because YOU are going to make the choice to do it.

You are the hero of your story, this is your movie, and this is your time. There is not a person on this planet who can magically make everything better; the trainer at your gym, the person whose book you read, the influencer on Instagram who promised you could lose 20 pounds in two weeks – they cannot save you.

I have worked in this industry for almost 20 years and I can honestly tell you that I cannot save you. I can help you – if you need help, reach out. I am happy to help in any way that I can, and I truly, sincerely mean that. In the end, though, you will not make it because I or anyone else saved you. It will be because you made the choice – you made the choice to exercise, you made the choice to eat better, and you made the choice to reach out and seek help.

You are the hero; you are the only one who can save yourself. Can we lean on others? Absolutely. Having a support system is extremely important, but remember; they can help, but they cannot do it for you.

There is a common misconception that motivation precedes the action, but it does not work like that. If we wait for the motivation, we will wait forever.

Just start – the action comes first. Start even if you do not feel like it, and once you start, keep going. Even if it feels like you are crawling some days, keep going and the motivation will come. Once a little progress is made, then the motivation comes. The more progress, the more motivation. Keep going and you will become unstoppable.

If this pandemic has been tough and you find yourself down in a hole and in a place you do not like, do not wait. No one is coming to pull you out. I cannot pull you out. I can help. I can throw down your cape, but you must make the decision to put that cape on and be the hero that your life needs. You’ve got this; I believe in you. Afterall, you are a hero.

 

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

AJ Zeglen

This article was originally published in the Game On magazine – Manitoba’s hockey community magazine.

Bell MTS Iceplex a worthy and capable home for Manitoba Moose and professional hockey

When faced with a unique challenge, an equally unique solution often needs to be found. The Manitoba Moose found themselves in that position for the 2021 season.

The challenge? Creating enough space for visiting NHL teams at Bell MTS Place to follow the NHL’s COVID protocols, while also needing a safe space of their own where the Moose could create their own bubble in which to compete against AHL opponents.

The solution? A move to Bell MTS Iceplex for all games and practices of their never-before-seen 17-game homestand.

That homestand that began on March 8 wrapped up on April 29, and though the move created some adjustments for the Moose, it’s something the team has been used to as they’ve navigated a very unusual season.

“It’s been a different season in so many ways,” said Moose Head Coach Pascal Vincent. “First of all, not knowing if we were going to play. Then thinking if we were going to have a season in the AHL and then knowing the schedule. The investment that management and ownership has made in order for us to play. Then the fact we had to move from downtown to here at Iceplex and play our games here. It was a lot of moving pieces to make that happen.”

Both the facility and the staff at the Iceplex had to adjust too, as one of their four rinks was closed off for the Moose full-time. That rink required several upgrades on a tight timeline prior to the first game, but Iceplex General Manager David Sattler notes it was a task the team rose to.

“The operations team here is such a great group of individuals. They’re willing to go above and beyond. You tell them what you’re thinking or what needs to be done and they take it, run with it, and they do it not only in a timely fashion but very effectively as well.”

With the Iceplex typically being a facility that accommodates amateur levels of hockey and practices for the Jets and Moose, creating an ice surface that met the standards of a professional game meant plenty more work.

“While there were obvious adjustments that needed to be made, there were also many smaller daily tasks added to the ice operations crew’s plate that often go unnoticed but are extremely crucial for the ice to be optimal for professional game play,” said Brad Andrews, Senior Director of Hockey & Business Operations for the Moose. “Everything from checking ice temperatures, to edging and checking the boards, to resurfacing the ice sheet multiple times in the lead-up to the game. All of those things were done to the same standard we take for granted at Bell MTS Place.”

Those extra steps in the ice maintenance process gave Iceplex staff plenty of learning opportunities.

“When the season started here, we only had one Zamboni driver who had actually worked a professional hockey game,” said Sattler. “He helped train three other drivers who drove their first professional hockey games this season. The ice reports have been fantastic, so his knowledge that he passed on and what they were able to learn from him about the refrigeration system here, because every place is different, was phenomenal.”

It wasn’t just the ice crew that had to adjust. Administrative staff at the facility found new roles too.

“We’re very grateful for the work of David Sattler and Iceplex Event & Marketing Coordinator Jonathan Bailey,” continued Andrews in gratitude. “They took on the roles of Facility Compliance Officers and made sure the Iceplex was a safe place to play for the Moose and our visiting teams. At least one of them was present at every game and practice to ensure that all of the protocols were being adhered to, and we are very thankful for their dedication and attention to detail this season.”

The efforts put in by Iceplex employees didn’t go unnoticed by other Moose team staff either.

“I think the experience was, all things considered, really good,” said Graham Watt, Head Equipment Manager for the Moose. “I think the Iceplex staff went above and beyond in terms of the condition of the ice and the arena itself, and made it as good as we could have, considering the circumstances.”

More than just the ice surface, Coach Pascal noted how good of a fit the whole facility was for the team.

“We have a beautiful facility here for the players and coaches. They have access to a big gym and everything you would need to run a professional hockey team right here at Iceplex. We had to adjust for the opponents, the referees and the ice crew – all the little things. Even for the people filming the games and for Hockey Communications & Broadcast Manager Daniel Fink to do the play-by-play. It’s been an adjustment for everyone. Everyone had to adapt, and everybody did it right. Our players were grateful for everything that’s been done, and I haven’t heard one single complaint.”

Admittedly, playing games in their practice facility took some getting used to, especially with the absence of that fan energy, but with everything else they needed or wanted available, it allowed them to keep their focus on the game.

“What’s unusual is the breaks – the eight- or nine-day breaks in between games,” noted defenceman Jonathan Kovacevic of the season’s unusual schedule. “But as far as the homestand, if anything it’s better. You’re just comfortable, you’ve been at home for so long. It was a little weird playing in the Iceplex at first, but it’s something we’re embracing as a group.”

Being so familiar with the space, the team made it their home and really showed their comfort level by the end of their homestand as they took home points in each of their last eight games there while winning seven of those contests.

“Guys just love to be here,” said forward Joona Luoto. “We didn’t have to travel anywhere; we could just focus on playing and working out. That’s a huge thing for us if we can just play our game and work hard.”

Jets Hockey Development welcomes Brett Wur to The Starting Lineup

Last summer, Jets Hockey Development (JHD) released The Starting Lineup video and content series that featured their team of experienced instructors to allow members of the Winnipeg hockey community to get to know them a little better. As with any team, lineups change over time and JHD is no different. After welcoming then-Manitoba Moose Ticket Sales rep Brett Wur to the team on a temporary basis in summer and fall due to redeployment within True North’s organization amid the pandemic, Brett’s hockey experience made him a great fit to join the team full-time. Find out a little bit more about Brett and what he brings to the ice.

Brett Wur – On-Ice Instructor

Hockey has always been Brett Wur’s main focus when it comes to sports. The sport has taken him many places as he played three years of junior hockey – two in Manitoba and one in Ontario – before playing university hockey for several years, the majority of that at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. after he spent a brief period playing in the U.S. Following his university career, he played one year of professional hockey in Germany.

That focus on hockey hasn’t stopped Wur from finding balance in his athletic life. Growing up, he enjoyed playing a variety of sports.

“I played Team Manitoba volleyball for a season,” said Wur. “Being able to play multiple sports growing up really helped shape skills that I incorporate into my hockey game.”

It’s not just volleyball that Wur enjoys off the ice, and his experience in a variety of sports translates well to his new coaching role with JHD.

“You take a look at playing soccer and being able to have foot control can really translate into edge work and picking up bad passes with skates. Baseball is a great example of hand-eye coordination. You see in today’s games that defencemen are knocking down passes, you see guys tipping in goals or batting pucks out of the air into the net.”

Wur finds balance in other areas of life too, countering his passion for being at the rink with an appreciation for outdoor activity.

“Living in B.C. for four years, I really got to experience the outdoors. It was where I really fell in love with doing a lot of outdoor things – going kayaking, going canoeing, and stuff like that. It just gives you that break from the hustle and bustle that you have every day.”

For Wur, finding that balance is key in his on-ice instruction too as he aims to develop hockey players who can find success at every level, as well as off the ice.

“Being able to work defensively, but also be offensive – I really pride myself on being a two-way player. So trying to be able to incorporate that into a lot of kids at a younger age can really help them develop in all aspects of the game, in all three zones, and also in being a great team player.”

 

For more information on the entire JHD Starting Lineup of coaches, visit BellMTSIceplex.ca/JHDTeam.

Take advantage of the experience Wur and his fellow JHD coaches bring to the ice by signing up for their spring and summer programs at BellMTSIceplex.ca/JHDPrograms.

Iceplex upgrades facility to host Manitoba Moose

The Manitoba Moose are no strangers to Bell MTS Iceplex. The team runs their training camp and many of their practices and gameday skates at the facility in a typical season.

This season, however, the Moose will be getting far more comfortable at the Iceplex. After playing their first four games of the season at Bell MTS Place, the team will play the remainder of their home schedule at the Iceplex.

Though the facility is one of the best in the province in terms of minor hockey, the transition to hosting professional hockey has required some upgrades. The Iceplex’s operations team has been busy as of late, working to make improvements that meet new broadcast, technology and player safety requirements.

Among the changes made were replacing the tempered glass that sat atop the rink boards with more flexible acrylic panels, an AHL standard for player safety given the higher pace and heavier hits at the pro level. The operations crew was also tasked with redesigning the penalty box area, installing rounded acrylic corners at the benches for safety, changing the rink board advertisements to materials that won’t scuff players’ equipment, painting trapezoids into the ice behind each net and adding risers behind the benches for the coaches of each team.

“Painting new lines on an existing rink was a new challenge for us, so adding in the trapezoids was a bit of a learning curve,” said Trevor Johnston, Senior Operator at Bell MTS Iceplex. “The change from tempered glass to acrylic was a lot less stressful, however with a small team working on the project, it was far more time consuming. We had a team of two to five staff working over five days to install the new system, learning how to do it as we went. By the time it was done the rink was starting to look like an entirely different rink.”

Additionally, the team installed new shelving in several dressing rooms for visiting teams and ran extra electrical lines to those dressing rooms in order to heat and dry equipment for the players.

The transition to hosting AHL hockey has truly provided a seemingly never-ending list of to-dos for the operations team.

“The week prior to puck drop consisted of constant walk-abouts, looking for things we thought needed to be moved, changed, cleaned, or repaired. All the while, we were getting update after update from others on additional set-up, as they thought of more things they would need.”

True North’s A/V and IT teams were busy in the preparation for Moose games at the Iceplex as well, making sure that the rink met the technology and broadcast requirements of the team and league. Two new cameras, a video switcher, and many auxiliary pieces such as cables and microphones were installed to ensure the production, communications, and marketing teams were able to do their work at the facility during games.

The A/V installments have created a new versatility for the Iceplex and the A/V team that may be useful for any streaming or smaller-scale production down the road, while many of the other changes will add to the experience of future facility users – improved dressing rooms and redesigned penalty box and benches, to name a few.

Bell MTS Iceplex General Manager David Sattler stresses that the most important steps for the facility in hosting the Moose are to provide the team a safe place to play hockey.

“We of course have to meet the league’s standards and the needs of both the Moose and the visiting teams, and a big part of that is the on-ice experience for those players,” said Sattler. “Ultimately, though, the success of hosting the Moose will be measured in safety. It’s our top priority to ensure our COVID protocols provide the players and staff with a safe place to play and do their jobs.”

It’s that commitment to safety and a superior experience and the team’s ability to pivot that makes Bell MTS Iceplex one of Manitoba’s premier hockey facilities. Whether the facility’s staff are preparing to host the Manitoba Moose, one of Manitoba’s many minor hockey teams, or a one-on-one training session, their top priority is always safety and to ensure that their guests leave having received superior service.

“Our whole Iceplex team put a tremendous amount of time and effort into readying the facility to host AHL hockey,” added Sattler. “It’s a level of commitment that is just the norm around here. It might get highlighted in instances like this when we’re preparing for professional hockey games, but everybody from our housecleaning staff, to our operations staff, to our office staff put this level of effort in every day for the kids playing Timbits hockey to the youth playing AAA hockey too.”

 

Fans can catch all the Manitoba Moose action at Bell MTS Iceplex live with a subscription to AHLTV by visiting ahltv.com or by listening live on the Moose website at MooseHockey.com/LISTENLIVE