The Bell MTS Iceplex is known as the rink to go to for minor hockey in Winnipeg, and the Jets Gear Pro Shop inside the Iceplex is also growing in popularity as a source for Jets Gear and hockey equipment services.
Though they have all of the hottest Jets and Moose apparel, skate sharpening, equipment repair services and Winnipeg Jets game used sticks, shafts, and blades are what keep the Pro Shop ticking. Store manager Jeff Borse says that the Iceplex’s four hockey rinks bring in most of their clients and that the Jets Gear Pro Shop is also gaining loyal and discerning customers that last year brought in 11,517 pair of skates for sharpening.
“We don’t have a large turnaround in employees,” said Borse of the Pro Shop. “Hockey players can be picky and if they get one good skate sharpening, they’ll stick with that person and not just the location. So all the guys in the store have their customers come in to check if they’re around when they bring in their skates. But it’s also out of convenience, given that we have four rinks, and there’s usually something going on here.”
Though they provide a high level of service, their prices don’t reflect it. The cost of the Pro Shop’s services are right on par with any other skate sharpening and equipment repair outlets in the city.
And, it’s not just their equipment services that are drawing people in. Their merchandise, and intimate location is also attracting customers.
“People are starting to realize that we have a spot out here, and that it’s secluded and not as crazy as the malls,” noted Borse. “It’s more one-to-one because it’s a smaller store. You walk in and you don’t have to look for people to help you. We’re right here in front of you.”
The fact that the Pro Shop is set in a hockey environment adds to the allure of it too. Whether it’s the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy, hockey tournaments, the Manitoba Moose, or the Winnipeg Jets, it seems like the Iceplex is always filled with hockey players, making it the kind of place you want to go to for pro services and Jets apparel, just to be a part of the atmosphere. Surrounded by hockey and with a knowledgeable and experienced team, the Pro Shop can only expect that word will continue to grow.
This year the Ice Lab once again held a week-long summer goalie camp for rising stars and elite goaltenders from ages 9-17.
Goalies had a fun and educational camp focusing on the breakdown of goaltending movements and advanced training to become as efficient and effective as possible.
The Full five-day camp included two on-ice sessions, one Focus Fitness goalie-specific workout, and one gym session per day giving them the opportunity to practice distinct skills and situations not always available to them in team practices.
Participants had fun playing dodgeball, floorball, and other gym activities on the Canadian Tire rink and were treated to lunch in the Press Box Restaurant.
New this year, goalies received cool Ice Lab water bottles and T-shirts for participating.
Highly experienced instructors ensured that our goalies had a fun week. Special guest Calvin Pickard (Toronto), who won the Calder Cup with Toronto Marlies this past season, surprised goalies during week one, sharing some insights on his own success in net.
Thank you to all participants for your hard work. We hope that you learned a lot and came away with things to work on this upcoming season.
As always, we build upon our camps and classes each year to bring the best experience for future sessions. It’s very rewarding for us as coaches to see the improvements that you will bring back to your teams each new season following any Jets Hockey Development training.
I look forward to hearing all about your accomplishments and success and seeing you in the Ice Lab in the upcoming season.
I have been very fortunate to come to the Hockey Canada Under 17 Development Program for a third year and every year it blows me away. The talent, professionalism, and willingness to learn from these young men is really something that is remarkable. I am once again working with Team Black and Team Blue in a camp of 112 of the best 16-year-old hockey players from coast to coast in Canada. From these two teams, Hockey Canada will form Team Black, which will play in the U17 World Championships in November.
The week is a very busy week of hockey for the players, who were faced with numerous challenges, including meeting a full new coaching staff and sorting out new drills and expectations on the ice, working with new skills coaches who are giving them new information to work on in practice, and hopefully implement in games, and being in a room with 19 new players who all have the same dream of one day playing for Team Canada.
The coaches challenge the players and the players push and challenge each other to get better as they quickly realize that playing for Team Canada is not easy. It takes an exceptional athlete to be able to face the challenges head on and raise their game to a new level among the best players in their age group.
Off the ice, players are put through seminars to help them learn what it takes to be a world-class hockey player. Seminars in nutrition, mental performance, goal setting, social media, fitness testing (and more) allowed the players to see what is required on a daily basis from a hockey player at this level. These players quickly see the difference in dedication and passion for the game from simply being a guy who plays hockey to a true hockey player.
From my perspective this is a very exciting week. I get to meet new coaches, trainers, and players who all have an undisputable passion for the game. Every coach has a different style and I love the challenge of finding a way to implement what I do on the skills side to help each player improve in a short time to contribute more to the team. I get to meet players from across the country who all have different backgrounds and experiences with skills coaches. Some are used to the language, some have never heard the depth of the details in the instruction and some need a translator as they only speak French. It is up to me to find a way to connect with all the defencemen that I work with to help them see improvements during this week, and also give them things to work on as each and every player realizes that he needs to continue to improve.
It’s not just the prospective Team Canada players who learn and grow over the course of this week of training. Working with new players, working through new challenges, and collaborating with other coaches is also good for my own coaching toolbox. Players’ challenges become my challenges as I tailor their development plans to find the best ways to help them take their game to the next level. In working with players with unique styles of play, there is always a takeaway that I can bring back to the players that I work with through Jets Hockey Development.
It is a busy week full of practices, seminars, meetings and games which all lead to an incredible experience for the trainers, coaches, and players. This group was talented, energetic and willing to learn. For all their skill, they have had their eyes open to how many good players there are in Canada and what it will take to play for their country. The common theme that came up from all the players I met with is, ‘I have to get better.” As a skills coach, that is what I love to hear, as it is an attitude that will continue to serve us well, even when we think we have reached our ultimate goals!
While a lot of our work done at the gym and at the rink determines our level of success. there are many things such as nutrition, sleep and mental wellness that can be done away from the rink. All of those things will aid in achieving our goals.
The most often overlooked of these factors is mental wellness and preparation. We do a lot to prepare ourselves physically for success in athletics as the nature of sports themselves are physical, but we don’t do enough to prepare mentally for success. Here is a step by step plan for you to do every morning which will allow you to get the most out of your day and put yourself in the right frame of mind to dominate on the ice.
Step 1: Bedtime Journal. There is a popular saying, “win tomorrow today,” which applies nicely to our first step. If we are trying to have a great day tomorrow, it starts with a good night sleep the night before. In order to have a great sleep we want the proper environment: dark, quiet room without distractions. If you have tried this you may notice that being in a dark, quiet environment leaves you alone with your own thoughts which can be pretty distracting in their own right. Having a journal beside the bed where we can write down all our thoughts, ideas, and concerns will allow us to empty our mind. Knowing that all these thoughts have now been acknowledged and our ideas or important things we don’t want to forget the next day will be on paper waiting for us, allows us to relax, clear our minds and have a better sleep.
Step 2: First Alarm. If you use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning get up on the first alarm, no snooze button. We don’t want to start our day by putting it off five minutes at a time. We should want to start the day with conviction and purpose. A helpful tip can be to place your alarm clock away from your arm’s reach so you physically have to get up to turn it off.
Step 3: Visualization. Now that you’re up. Take 7-12 minutes to visualize yourself having success in whatever you are doing that day. Sit up, close your eyes and see yourself dominating your day. If you’re going to the gym, see yourself completing great reps. If you’re going to the rink, see yourself scoring the goal, making the pass or blocking the shot. This applies to everything, if you’re not training or playing hockey that day. but you’re going grocery shopping, see yourself at the store with your well-prepared list so you don’t forget anything, being efficient with your time and being friendly to every person who crosses your path, so interacting with you is a positive experience for everyone.
Step 4: Gratitude Journal. Keep a second journal handy and take a couple minutes to write down one thing for which you’re grateful. Nothing is too big or too small. It could be something specific that happened to you the previous day or something more general like an overall appreciation for how awesome your friends and family are. Pick something new every day. Once you start, and think it about it for a couple minutes, it will become easy. There’s always something to be grateful for and acknowledging it daily will put you in a positive frame of mind to continue to think and attract positivity throughout your day.
That’s your quick guide to starting off each day on the path to success. There are other steps to add in that will help make you even more effective throughout your day while hunting down your goals, but this is a great start. If these work well for you and you want to know more and take it to the next level, feel free to reach out to me and let me know. I’d love to help.
Until next time,
Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment
AJ Zeglen, Focus Fitness Manager & Head Strength Coach
How big challenges led to bigger opportunities for Ice Lab lead instructor, Andy Kollar
Just over four years ago, Andy Kollar received a phone call from Dwayne Green, executive director of the True North Youth Foundation, that changed his life forever. “Greener let me know about a new job opening at Bell MTS Iceplex to manage its Ice Lab (goalie development) program,” recalls Kollar. At the time, Kollar had been working in sales for the past several years. “It took me less than an hour to make the decision to apply. Now looking back, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love what I do. I feel like a kid in the candy store (for goalies) every day I come to work.”
Ice Lab is a unique hockey training program offered just for goalies at Bell MTS Iceplex, utilizing a specially designed 40’ x 60’ rink, along with the other four NHL-sized rinks at the multipurpose facility. “I knew Andy would be a great fit,” says Green. “Not only does he have the experience, but I thought he’d also be a great fit for True North.” With 15 years of goaltending experience, including playing on the University of North Dakota’s men’s hockey team for five years, stints with various professional clubs in the East Coast and Southern hockey leagues, and success in junior and minor hockey ― just like his goalie pads at times, his experience is stacked.
Working with goalies of all ages is one of the most rewarding aspects of Kollar’s job, especially when he sees the confidence of the athletes increase in correlation with their skills. “We treat every goalie as an individual, focusing on enhancing their strengths and giving them the tools to build upon their weaknesses,” says Kollar.
Identifying “weaknesses” and turning them into strengths is something Kollar knows all about. For most of his prolific playing career (see “Padding His Resume”), the never-give-up netminder overcame challenges and embraced opportunities to the fullest when they came. “Being cut [at many levels of hockey] and told I didn’t have the typical body for being a high-level goalie was something that fuelled me to work harder than anyone else, and really focus on the fundamentals of what goalies really needed to be efficient,” says Kollar. That commitment led to individual awards and championships at almost every level of hockey he played. Kollar knows first-hand that no matter what size or skill level, if a goalie really wants to work at it, they can get better and strive toward some big goals – or rather, big saves.
As the head instructor of Ice Lab, Kollar works with a small, but dedicated team of instructors that has built a solid reputation for Ice Lab and Bell MTS Iceplex. “We’re getting some great feedback from teams that benefit from the Ice Lab. The time goalies spend on the ice here with Andy’s team is translating into athletes performing better on the ice at their games,” says Monte Miller, Bell MTS Iceplex general manager. “Andy’s passion for helping goalies play better in net, all while having fun, has been a real asset to our overall programming here at Iceplex.”
Getting all access to Andy and his team is now a year-round opportunity. With regular season hockey wrapping up, many goalies will turn their attention to off-season conditioning and development in preparation for next season. “The spring and summer are important times of the year for goalies to look back at what worked well and what could be improved upon from last season,” says Kollar. Ice Lab has sessions available throughout the spring and summer months for athletes wanting to enhance their skills without the pressure of a regular season. “The goalies we work with closely in the off-season enjoy the Ice Lab sessions because their hockey schedules are generally lighter, giving them more opportunity to focus on working on improvements to their game.”
Ice Lab develops goalies from all levels of play. From professional to peewee, and newbie to novice, Kollar and crew have it covered from the basics to specialized training programs. To learn more, visit bellmtsiceplex.ca or contact the Ice Lab at 204-926-5869 email@example.com
Padding his resume (Andy Kollar fun facts)
Played high school hockey for River East Kodiaks from1993 to 1994 (Won city and provincial high school championships; Won goalie of the year honours in 1993)
Played in MJHL for St. James Canadians from 1994 to 1995 (In rookie year, won championship; led league in GAA as a rookie)
Played for the Fargo Ice Sharks in the USHL from 1996 to 1997 (made the USHL All-Star team)
Played NCAA hockey for five years with UND Fighting Sioux from 1998 to 2002 (Won 2000 NCAA Championship; NCAA 2001 Championship Finalist; )
Modelled personal goaltending style off of Stanley Cup champion and Edmonton Oiler, Andy Moog
Says best play he ever made was marrying his wife Angie in 2003. The happy couple have a son, Ashton, 10 and daughter, Dylan, who is 8.