With public health and the safety of our guests and employees of the utmost concern at Bell MTS Iceplex, the facility is currently closed in response to COVID-19. In addition to the closure of Focus Fitness, The Press Box Restaurant and the Jets Gear Pro Shop, a number of upcoming programs and services have been cancelled and postponed as follows:
Future Jets Spring Team programs – cancelled
Finnesota Cup participation – cancelled
JHD spring programs scheduled from April 6-May 28 – cancelled; we are working toward a new program schedule with an anticipated start of June 1
Girls of the North program – postponed
JHD spring programming – cancelled
Ice Lab – all sessions postponed indefinitely
Ice Lab Footwork and Conditioning Camp – postponed
IAHL winter playoffs – cancelled
IAHL spring season – postponed
All Hockey Canada/Hockey Manitoba sanctioned programming – cancelled
Ice rentals – postponed through April 30
Affected participants have been contacted directly.
While everyone adjusts to this unprecedented time, Bell MTS Iceplex is doing everything we can to maintain some normalcy to your regular routine. We encourage you to check out our fitness and training videos that you can do at home and with your children. Please visit our Focus Fitness and JHD social pages to check them out.
True North Sports + Entertainment will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 and follow the best practices of Manitoba Health and our partner associations as we work to ensure the safe resumption of regular programming and services at Bell MTS Iceplex. Please stay safe and well.
With public health and the safety of our guests and employees of the utmost concern at Bell MTS Iceplex, we have made the decision to postpone programming effective March 13 through March 31 in response to COVID-19.
Focus Fitness and the Press Box Restaurant will be closed. All Jets Hockey Development (JHD) Ice Lab sessions have been postponed. The Iceplex Adult Hockey League (IAHL) playoffs have been postponed. As per Hockey Canada and Hockey Manitoba’s previous announcement, all sanctioned programming has been cancelled.
True North Sports + Entertainment will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 and follow the best practices of Manitoba Health and our partner associations as we work to ensure the safe resumption of regular programming and services at Bell MTS Iceplex.
As the calendar prepares to turn to spring, for many hockey families it marks the end of one hockey season and the start of another. Spring hockey has become a great way to continue development beyond the winter months. That word – development – is at the centre of the Future Jets program, as it is for all the Jets Hockey Development (JHD) programs at the Bell MTS Iceplex.
While the winter season typically puts an emphasis on team tactics, the Future Jets program, run by JHD, focuses on developing players’ individual hockey skills. This results in a schedule that may be different than what players are used to in spring, with a lot more practicing than games. Participants play in two local tournaments in April and May and the rest of their time focuses on practice and training.
“The vision of the program was to allow players to play on a team in the spring that focuses on development rather than games,” said Dave Cameron, Head On-Ice Instructor with JHD. “This comes from a structured schedule that allows for more practice time and effective use of the ice time to allow players to build confidence and develop.”
It’s a mentality that has resonated with players and hockey parents alike.
“I needed to focus on my development and the Future Jets program really put an emphasis on the development and not really on winning games. So that was the main thing – you go there to be better,” said Jack Derrett, 15, who played in the Future Jets program in 2015 and 2016.
“A lot of parents want their kids to win in spring hockey, the way they want them to win in winter hockey,” said Jack’s father Tom Derrett. “Kids shouldn’t be in this for winning, it should be about development and getting better all the time. That’s what the Future Jets program is all about – developing kids into young adults and better hockey players so that they play their whole life and they don’t just quit at age 17. The development model here is exactly what we wanted, and Jack is reaping the benefits of that five years later.”
The benefits indeed are obvious, as Jack is playing for the AAA Bantam 1 Winnipeg Monarchs, having put up 25 points in 28 games during the 2019-20 season.
“At the start of the first year when I was in the Future Jets program, my speed was decent,” said Jack. “But the second year I went back and felt way stronger. After the two years in the Future Jets program, I felt like I could really move. I can hold the puck better while I’m skating, and my passes feel crisper. It really helped.”
That’s exactly the goal of the Future Jets program. As much as hockey is a team game and it’s important to work on playing as a team, it’s those individual skills of stickhandling, skating, passing, and shooting that contribute to overall team play. Enhancing those key skills enables players to bring their team to the next level.
“We focus on all the areas players will need to have in games that allow them to play with confidence,” said Cameron. “Sometimes these areas are overlooked by coaches as they expect players to be able to do them or don’t feel comfortable teaching them to the players. Proper skating mechanics is a great example of allowing players to become more balanced to be able to get more power and ultimately move faster. The practice plans are based around what each different age group needs to allow them to get the most out of their 18 practices. For example, the practice plans for the kids turning 13 this season will feature body checking and the details associated with contact as players prepare to play with checking for the first time this spring.”
Tom has noticed the difference that focusing on individual skills has made in his son’s game. It’s clear to him, though, that the focus on individual skills isn’t to foster individualistic players.
“Dave works on a lot of other stuff like being unselfish and moving the puck,” said Tom. “Dave spent a lot of time talking about how the puck has to move. As you get older, if you don’t move the puck you’re going to get left behind. You see a lot of kids struggle with that, and it’s something that I feel Jack’s been pretty good at.”
Jack’s time in the Future Jets program has clearly left a positive impression on the Derretts, as he still regularly works with Cameron and the other JHD coaches. The Winnipeg Monarchs visit Bell MTS Iceplex weekly to train with the JHD team on the ice and in the gym, and the Derretts, along with a group of other families, have pooled together in the summers to hire Cameron to work with their sons to prepare them for the coming season.
That type of loyalty to the hockey programming at the Bell MTS Iceplex certainly begins with having knowledgeable and experienced coaches.
“You get to know some of the people that use Dave at a higher level, and you see that he spends the same amount of time and care with those guys as he does with your kid,” said Tom. “As a parent, what a great feeling to know that when you drop your kid off, he’s going to be in good hands with someone with a good skill set and that teaches professional athletes.”
The Derretts loyalty to the program has only been furthered by the trust they know they can put in the Iceplex coaches to not only play a role in developing kids into high-level hockey players, but into quality people off the ice too.
“You put a lot of faith and trust in people that coach your kid in any sport,” continued Tom. “With Dave specifically and the program in general, it’s always a feeling of comfort that when you drop your kid off at the doors at the Iceplex, you know that he’s going to be in good hands from a care perspective. Everyone there is great, and they genuinely care about the kids.”
The Future Jets program is open to hockey players born in 2007, 2008, and 2009 this year, and limited spots are still available. To register for the Future Jets Program, visit BellMTSIceplex.com/FutureJetsSpringHockey.
The team is greater than the sum of its players. Every person has a role. When one person succeeds, we all succeed. Sounds like a great pre-game pep talk from an inspiring coach.
Instead, those were the words of David Sattler, the general manager of the Bell MTS Iceplex, as he described his job and his team of Iceplex employees.
Unsurprisingly, Sattler has a huge passion for sports. In his own words, he played “basically anything that involved a team” growing up. He’s done some coaching too, so inspirational team quotes come naturally to him.
“Sports has an interesting way of teaching life lessons that school or other things can’t,” said Sattler. “There’s team building, respect, sportsmanship, self-confidence and self-awareness. Those are all really good things to learn through sport.”
See what we mean?
While Sattler isn’t coaching any on-ice teams, he’s bringing a coaching mentality to his GM role Iceplex. You can tell Sattler is quite excited about the role and his team.
“Our team at the Iceplex is very skilled at their craft,” noted Sattler, who has been in this position at the Iceplex since July. “Watching them apply their trade is rewarding; watching them grow, try new things, look outside the box for solutions to problems and step outside their comfort zone.”
Sattler notes he’s worked on great teams before, most recently at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie prior to joining the Iceplex in summer 2019, where he served for two years as an accounting clerk and six more as general manager for the facility that includes two rinks, an indoor and outdoor pool, a fitness centre, meeting rooms, 29 sports fields and a campground.
Sattler now enjoys the challenges of running the Bell MTS Iceplex, including leading more employees and managing a facility that is both privately owned and a vibrant community gathering space.
“This is a big building and there’s a lot going on, which is challenging. There are plenty of competing interests. Understanding what our goals are, and what our strategy is are important things. As much as it is privately owned, it’s a community facility, and we want to make sure that everyone is coming in and enjoying this place.”
The Iceplex’s reputation as the home of community hockey in Manitoba is an integral one. But the Iceplex also holds the distinction of being a Hockey Canada Centre of Excellence and a high-performance training facility, where Olympic and NHL athletes come to train.
“On the high-performance side, we know that there are some very talented players growing up in Winnipeg and Manitoba, and their goal is to play at the highest level possible,” said Sattler. “We have the resources with our coaches and our trainers to get them there, from Focus Fitness (industry-leading strength and conditioning facility) to Jets Hockey Development (year-round, all-ages hockey development program) and the Ice Lab (Jets Hockey Development goalie training).”
For Sattler, it’s important to keep the two reputations in balance. No matter what people are entering the building for, he knows each guest is just as important as the last, and he wants everybody to leave happy and wanting to come back.
“We want to make sure that whether you’re a three-year-old kid coming to Learn to Skate, or if you’re a 75-year-old grandparent coming to watch your grandchild play, the facility meets your expectations. From the moment people walk in, to the moment they leave, we need people to say, ‘Wow! That was great!’ We’re lucky to have one of the newest facilities in all of Manitoba. There is a sense of community pride in that and people enjoy being here.”
In his time at the Iceplex, Sattler and his team have already been trying new methods to ensure a superior guest experience. The Iceplex surveyed its 1,600 Iceplex Adult Hockey League (IAHL) members prior to the fall season to see what mattered to them and how the Iceplex team could improve their experience. The IAHL members responded and the Iceplex team acted. The first change that came was extending The Press Box restaurant hours so that teams can enjoy snacks and socializing following their games, along with offering team specials on food and beverages.
With a strategy of teamwork and listening to patrons, Sattler has a successful game plan in place, and is serving well in his first year as “coach” of the Iceplex staff.
“I truly believe that if we listen to our guests, from the youngest to the oldest and whether they are playing in the NHL or just starting to play hockey, we will succeed in more ways than we can imagine.”
If you have comments or feedback on the facilities and programming at Bell MTS Iceplex, Sattler wants to hear from you – visit BellMTSIceplex.ca/CONTACT-US to share your thoughts.
It’s not every day that you get to be coached by a two-time Olympian for free, so young female hockey players jumped at the opportunity to attend Female Hockey Day at the Bell MTS Iceplex on Feb. 29.
Female Hockey Day, which recently hit its maximum capacity for participants, will be run by Jets Hockey Development coach Venla Hovi, who has twice represented her home country of Finland in women’s hockey at the Winter Olympics.
The event will be a celebration of gender equality in hockey and will include a full day of activity for Atom, Novice, Peewee, and Bantam aged girls, running from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Players will spend time on the ice, in the gym, and will also get to hear Hovi speak about her experiences in hockey. Participants will even go home with a jersey and a pair of socks courtesy of adidas.
Hovi said that girls of all skill levels are welcome to participate.
“The sessions will be very individual skill based, so there won’t be any comparing to anyone else. We’re just going out there, having fun, and trying our best. It doesn’t matter at all if there are different levels.”
Though Hovi hopes to teach the girls a few skills on the ice, her goal is much greater than improving their stickhandling.
“It’s just really to celebrate where we are right now with female hockey and how much it’s growing,” said Hovi. “I hope all of them understand that they can have big goals with hockey. I don’t want them to think that there are things that aren’t available for them or that it’s impossible. So hopefully we’re at the point where when they are older, they can play pro and dream about all these things that boys dream about. We want to encourage them to dream and not let anyone stand in the way.”
That wasn’t necessarily the case for Hovi when she was growing up in Finland, but she hopes her story of making it to Finland’s Olympic hockey team, as well as playing professionally in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and at the University of Manitoba, will show girls that no dream is too big.
“I’m going to talk about my own experiences growing up in Finland and how things have changed over the years for girls playing hockey,” Hovi noted about the plans for the presentation portion of the day. “It should give them some insight into the fact that this is not how things were, and how fortunate they are to get these opportunities.”
The fact that Female Hockey Day reached maximum capacity is encouraging for Hovi, and shows her that the future of women’s hockey is bright.
“It’s been amazing to see the level of interest in this event, and I’m excited to have so many young females coming out to celebrate girls’ hockey with us,” said Hovi. “I hope this momentum continues, and I’d love to see girls continue to fill up our other hockey programs that we offer at the Iceplex.”
Girls who are interested in participating in the Bell MTS Iceplex Female Hockey Day, but were unable to secure a spot, are welcome to put their names on the waitlist HERE.
Female Hockey Day coincides with the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose celebration of females in hockey with Gender Equality games on Mar. 6 and Mar. 7 respectively. Game tickets are available at WinnipegJets.com/TICKETS and MooseHockey.com/TICKETS.
For more information on Female Hockey Day, click HERE.