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The Forgotten Benefit of Strength Training

There are many benefits to strength training when it comes to athletics. The one that is probably the most celebrated in sport is the increase in performance. The development of more strength, speed, and power is usually the most recognizable benefit of getting into the gym and lifting weights. But if an athlete can’t stay healthy and is always out of the lineup, does it really matter how fast or powerful he/she is?

 With the second half of the regular season upon us and playoffs approaching, it is vital that teams have all their players in the lineup if they are hoping for a deep run. It is no coincidence that over the last nine years, the Stanley Cup has been won on seven occasions by a team that has been in the top two in the NHL in the statistical category of fewest man-games lost due to injury. The only team to break that trend was the Pittsburgh Penguins (2016 and 2017). So, I guess when you have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on your team you can find ways to beat the odds.

 For the rest of us, the question is how do you keep yourself healthy in order to stay in the lineup and play your best hockey when it really counts? Easy answer: you strength train.

 Strength training is the most proactive thing we can do to reduce injury. Most other treatment modalities are reactive, meaning they are used once an injury has already occurred. This helps reduce man games lost by getting players back onto the ice as soon as possible, which is very important. However, not being out of the lineup in the first place is even better.

 In a physical game like hockey, some injuries are inevitable. But many injuries can be greatly reduced through consistent strength training. Hockey is a high-frequency sport, meaning players are on the ice a lot and there is plenty of repetition. This causes muscular imbalances and leads to movement restrictions that in turn put an athlete in a position where they are more likely to sustain soft tissue injuries like muscle pulls and strains. Strength training corrects these muscular imbalances.

 While there is no guarantee that stepping in front of a frozen puck to block a shot is not going to hurt, strength training is the number one thing we can do to increase bone density. This can mean the difference between a bruise or a fracture.

 So, while we all want to be bigger, stronger, and faster, a case can be made that the biggest advantage of strength training during the season is that it will simply help to keep you on the ice doing what you do best – playing hockey.

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

Originally published in Game On Magazine, Year 7/Edition 4 

Female Hockey at Jets Hockey Development

High level performers in the world of female hockey are no strangers to the Jets Hockey Development programs at Bell MTS Iceplex.

While JHD has the expertise to coach players of all ages and skill levels of hockey development, from learn to skate to adult, recreational, and the most elite levels of professional hockey, the JHD programs tailored to young female athletes continue to grow.

Following season’s end, and hopefully a few weeks off to rest and recover, players are ready to get back into the gym, and onto the ice with JHD’s Female College Summer Program in July and August. The program is specifically structured to have the players on the ice three times per week, in preparation for NCAA and other university sports leagues’ training camps.

Throughout the summer, the JHD team focuses on developing players’ individual skills to continually improve each time they step on the ice.

Kati Tabin is one such player who has trained with JHD’s professional coaches for many years and who continues to return to JHD to enhance her game.

JHD Head On Ice Instructor & Program Manager Dave Cameron has been working with Tabin since she was in Grade 8. Tabin then began complementing her on-ice work with off-ice high performance training at Focus Fitness while in high school as a defender with the Balmoral Hall Blazers.

She has always been an outstanding player, but it’s been her off-ice dedication that has made her an NCAA Division 1 leader and a member of Canada’s National Women’s Program.

Kati’s mom and dad, Heather and Darcy, got her on the ice early and she learned to skate at age four in Oak Bluff. She moved to Transcona in Grade 7 and played Stars A1 and Saints Double A and then enrolled at Balmoral Hall and played one year on the high school team before making Coach Gerry Wilson’s Blazers prep team in Grade 10.

Both her dad and her brother, Zac, were hockey players and she picked up the game quite naturally. She was a member of the JWHL All-Star Team and played in the JWHL All-Star game in 2014 in Washington, D.C. She was also part of Hockey Manitoba’s Program of Excellence and has long been a part of the Focus Fitness group at the BellMTS Iceplex.

Her work ethic and commitment to learning gave her the edge needed to sign and play with the Bobcats female hockey team at Quinnipiac University (ECAC) in Hamden, Connecticut, where she has just begun her fourth year.

“The most important part of my off-season training is just in general getting better,” said Tabin. “Getting faster, getting stronger, and getting more explosive are all so important.”

She emphasised that her nutrition also plays a big role.

“AJ Zeglen (Manager, High Performance Training at Focus Fitness) knows just about everything you need to know about fitness and nutrition, and I am so lucky I had him as a trainer over the past couple of years,” she said.

When Tabin returns to Winnipeg she continues to train in the gym at Focus Fitness and gets on the ice to skate with Cameron and the rest of the JHD team.

“When I come home I want to maintain what I’ve gained out at Quinnipiac and there is no better place to do that than at JHD. The skates are always so beneficial, I find that I learn something new every single skate that helps me become more efficient and effective on the ice.”

Last season was Tabin’s sophomore year, and her best with the Bobcats. She finished the year with 14 points in 36 games and had the second-best record on defence with 47 blocked shots.

Others are taking notice of Tabin’s game, as she has received invitations to play in elite events such as the Team Canada Fall Festival, hosted in Dawson Creek, BC in September, and Canada’s National Development Team Camp in Calgary in August, where she was also appointed to the Select Team.

Although in her final year at Quinnipiac, Tabin hopes to keep playing as long as she can and will continue to further her training with the goal of staying in North America to play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League or travelling overseas to play professionally.

While her own drive and determination have been key, Tabin also credits JHD for the opportunities that continue to present themselves.

“In my opinion, JHD is one of the best programs in Winnipeg,” Tabin said. “The staff at Focus Fitness are well-educated and very welcoming. As for the on-ice part, the staff that help Dave are awesome. And Dave is truly the best. He has taught me so many valuable hockey skills. I truly wouldn’t be the hockey player I am today without his help.”

Female players can elevate their game through a variety of skill and age appropriate programs throughout the spring and summer months with Dave Cameron and Lee Stubbs, the JHD Head On-Ice Skills Instructors.

For more information or to register, visit bellmtsiceplex.ca.

JHD Female players to watch this season:


Logan Angers, Quinnipiac

Tess Bracken, Dartmouth

Kerigan Dowhy, Bemidji State

Mariah Gardner, Minnesota State

Kate MacKenzie, Quinnipiac

Meike Meilleur, Penn State

Erica Sandilands, Manhattanville

Kati Tabin, Quinnipiac

KK Thiessen, Mercyhurst



Brooke Anderson, York

Chelsea Court, Calgary

Shyan Elias, Saskatchewan

Kelsey McHolm, York

Holly Reuther, Calgary

Allison Sexton, Manitoba


Photos courtesy Hockey Canada and Rob Rasmussen/Quinnipiac University

Originally published in Game On Magazine

Fortunate for the Game

The holiday hockey tournament has now become a permanent part of our Canadian holiday tradition, woven into our fabric, no different than opening presents or sharing family dinners. While these tournaments draw great teams to come together and compete for a trophy, it’s easy to get caught up and forget how truly fortunate we are to have the ability to have the great game of hockey in our lives.

 Although we should try to keep perspective throughout the entire year, the holiday season always seems like a gentle nudge to pay particular attention to what’s important. We have the liberties and freedoms in this country that allow us to spend large parts of our lives devoted to playing games. We get to do this with the people we love: teammates, friends and family. The game will teach us many great lessons such as hard work, determination, team work, resiliency and commitment. But most of all it should teach us how to be thankful. Thankful for the experiences, the opportunities and the memories.

 To all the teams, players and fans who have the opportunity to spend this holiday season being part of something they truly love, Happy Holidays from our Focus Fitness family to yours. Win or lose, make sure to take a second to appreciate just how lucky we are to have each other and to have the game.

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

AJ Zeglen


Originally published in Game On Magazine

Ice Lab Goalie Getting Noticed

At Ice Lab, instructors and coaches view each goalie as an individual, moulding them in to the best version of themselves on the ice. However, it is off the Ice that Ice Lab goalie Noah Silvaggio, at only 15 years old, has been making a difference. Silvaggio has been named as a 2018 CBC Manitoba Future 40 finalist. Through fundraising and by selling his artwork and jewelry Silvaggio has personally raised over $30,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Silvaggio has been training in the Ice Lab for almost five years with coach Andy Kollar.

“Noah is polite and genuine and always comes to the rink with a smile. He is always pushing himself to do the best he can, no matter the difficulty of a drill. He is always happy to come to Bell MTS Iceplex and get into the Ice Lab and go to work,” says Coach Kollar.

In Coach Kollar’s words, Noah “just gets it.”

His easygoing nature draws you to him and he leads by example with his positive attitude.”

Similarly, in his personal life, after his own diagnosis with diabetes, he has taken on a personal responsibility to be a leader and spokesperson to raise awareness. Not one to let anything get in the way, Silvaggio hasn’t let this diagnosis stop him on or off the ice.

As a youth ambassador for JDRF, Silvaggio recently travelled to Ottawa to meet with politicians and advocates for policy change with regard to the disability tax credit and pharmacare program, as well as for access to affordable insulin for all T1D Canadians. His favourite player, Max Domi (Montreal Canadians), who he has had the chance to meet at hockey camps, has the same diagnosis and is a huge advocate for JDRF.

Silvaggio sees hockey as a game and works hard to be good at it. He plays with passion and has fun but knows that life is more than just hockey.

Ice Lab is proud to support Silvaggio as a player and leader in our community.

It’s a magical time of year for a tournament

Make your holiday season extra special at the Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup

There’s nothing like a minor hockey tournament to bring a team together and there’s something extra in the air at a holiday tournament. With the break from school and families having time to spend together, holiday tournaments are a time to bond with team and family, make memories and celebrate the season and a shared love of the game.

In Winnipeg, the biggest and most exciting tournament of the season is going into it’s eighth year. The Challenge Cup is a standout event throughout the hockey season and a tradition for many players and families at Bell MTS Iceplex.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the top 10 reasons to participate in the 2018-19 Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup this season:

  1. All games are played at Bell MTS Iceplex

Instead of driving all around the city to different rinks, all Challenge Cup games are located at the same great location. In addition to the added convenience, players can watch other teams from their divisions play or look up to older players in the higher divisions.

  1. Online stats

Our professional event includes online stats, schedules and results. Want to find your team stats or your playoff schedule? Information and schedules are all available online here

  1. Professional photographs

Throughout the tournament, M2R Sports Photography will be on site taking action shots and offering individual or team portraits as keepsakes from the tournament.

  1. Goodie bags

When teams arrive for their first game at Bell MTS Iceplex and experience the excitement, coaches will receive their team package with a goodie bag for each player. To end the tournament, all players will also receive a puck to commemorate playing in the 2018-19 tournament.

  1. Pancakes

Each day breakfast is served in the Press Box Restaurant. Sysco sponsors a pancake breakfast for all players in the 5/6 and Novice divisions and families can purchase pancakes and sausages each day for only $6 throughout the tournament.

Parents and families can also enjoy watching games on the Canadian Tire or RE/MAX rinks from the comfort of the restaurant.

  1. Mick E. Moose

Mick E. will be on site cheering on the teams. Get a high five or take a photo with Mick E. throughout the tournament.

  1. Watch a pro team practice

As the practice facility of the Winnipeg Jets (NHL) and Manitoba Moose (AHL), players and coaches alike can enjoy and even learn a thing or two watching their favourite players on the ice for practice at Bell MTS Iceplex.

  1. Get an autograph

If watching the pros practice isn’t enough, players will have a chance to meet the players on Dec. 28 and get an autograph from one of the Manitoba Moose Players.

  1. Prizes!

Every tournament has awards for the winning teams but the Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup prizing is over the top! Both the champions and finalists receive autographed Winnipeg Jets official game pucks, medals with the new Winnipeg Jets Aviators logo, and for the winning team, a championship banner to bring back and display in their home rink.

  1. Most importantly, FUN!

True North Sports + Entertainment and Bell MTS Iceplex want to provide a premium hockey experience for everyone involved in the Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup. If your team still hasn’t signed up, what are you waiting for?

Registration is open online here