• Bell MTS Iceplex - Manitoba's Community Hockey Complex
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Manitoba Moose

Continually Learning with the NHL Coaches Association

Each year, the NHL Coaches Association offers a coaching clinic the day before the NHL Draft where coaches from around the world join in the same room to discuss hockey with some of the best minds in the game. Clinics are important for me as a Development Coach to continue to expand my knowledge and to work closely with other coaches. By having a solid grasp of team concepts, I can implement specific individual skating and skills related to their team systems. This year, the annual NHL coaching clinic was held in Vancouver on June 20, 2019.

The day began with fantastic presentations covering a wide range of topics to help coaches learn more in-depth information about detailed areas of the game. Presentations covered:

  • Importance of a pre-scout
  • Skill acquisition
  • Creating offense
  • Hot stove discussions with current and past NHL coaches (including coaching legend Scotty Bowman)
  • Developing defensemen

The afternoon is the time of the coaching clinic that I always look forward to the most. This segment includes small group breakout discussions to work in proximity with other high-level coaches. For me, the afternoon is a time when I can ask questions and get immediate answers regarding what coaches are teaching and what their expectations are from players. By doing this, I can better prepare sessions for players to help them continue to improve and play at the highest levels. When I am able to learn about coaches’ team systems, I can then look at what skating or skills would be relevant to fit into those systems. I was fortunate this year to sit with current NHL coaches, two WHL coaches (one of which will coach the Team Canada U18 team this summer), a USHL coach, and a coach/GM in the BCHL. The wide range of coaching levels allowed me to gain insight as to what is being taught at each level. What impressed me the most about this portion of the day was that the NHL coaches were asking as many questions as were being asked of them.

After the clinic, there is some social time where coaches can mingle and discuss hockey. For me, this is a time to meet with other high-level skills coaches to discuss current trends or important topics that have continually come up in games. This is a great opportunity for me to exchange ideas, show videos, and learn from others who are also working with high-level players.

As skills coaches, we often view the game differently than bench coaches as we watch a lot of individual things as well as team structure. Bench coaches have different things to worry about over the course of a game. By learning more about the game from high-level coaches, I can continue to expand what we are teaching to players through our programming with Jets Hockey Development. It is my job to be able to identify the necessary skills to play at the highest levels and be able to come up with age appropriate practice plans to teach these skills to players.

I am looking forward to bringing what I’ve learned at this years coaching clinic back to Jets Hockey Development and I can’t wait until the next NHL Coaches Association clinic in Montreal next year.

Training Through Injury

If you play sports long enough, it is unfortunately inevitable that injuries will occur. While a proper strength and conditioning program greatly reduces the chance of injury, there are too many uncontrolled variables in a sport to guarantee injuries will not happen. Injuries have the potential to significantly derail an athlete’s progress in their sport and in the gym, causing them to completely fall off the training wagon. But like anything in life, we do much better when we focus on what we can control and don’t worry about the things we can’t control. So, if we do get injured, here’s what we can do:

If the injury requires surgery, it is imperative that you establish as much range of motion and strength as possible to the injury site and surrounding area. This will shorten the post-surgery recovery time and get you back to your sport as soon as possible.

Whether the injury requires surgery or not, you should continue to train all the other body parts, muscle groups, and movements that you can. You want to maintain as high a level of strength as possible; just because you have a lower-body injury doesn’t mean you want your upper body strength to diminish and vice versa. Research has shown there is a carry-over of up to five percent from one side of the body to the other while performing unilateral exercises. What this means is that if you had an injury to your left shoulder and continued to strengthen your right shoulder while rehabbing your left shoulder, you could see up to a five percent increase in strength in your left shoulder even though you haven’t been directly working it due to injury. When it comes to getting healthy, these small percentages add up.

Have the right attitude. Attitude and mental perspective are everything. Instead of thinking about what you can’t do, focus all your energy on what you can do and do it the best you can. This sounds simple but it really can make all the difference in the world. Positivity attracts more positivity and you need that mindset when working through injuries.

Next time you get injured, don’t stop. Instead, keep working; it’s part of the process.

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

Originally published in Game On Magazine, Year 7/Edition 6

JHD Hockey Players Prepare for Next Chapter

Draft day was an exciting day for many elite players born in 2004 and families as they watched the Western Hockey League (WHL) draft or updated their phones waiting to see if they were drafted in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft in Red Deer, Alberta.

Bell MTS Iceplex is proud of all players who train here with Jets Hockey Development (JHD) including the seven players in this year’s draft class who played for Jets Hockey Development 2004 Boys of the North, Two Ice Lab goaltenders, and all players from throughout Manitoba who were selected.

  1. Connor Geekie – Drafted 2nd overall by Winnipeg

Geekie, from Strathclaire, MB played Spring Hockey with the JHD Boys of the North and currently plays for the Yellowhead Bantam AAA Chiefs where he recorded
49 goals and 37 assists for a total of 86 points in the 2018-19 season.

  1. Denton Mateychuk

Mateychuk recorded 61 points in only 36 games this season for the Eastman Selects. Mateychuk also played for coach Larry Bumstead with the JHD Boys of the North and was drafted 11th overall by Moose Jaw.

  1. Sam Court

Court has been training at Bell MTS Iceplex on ice with JHD as well as training in Focus Fitness. Court played for the Boys of the North as well as trains with Coach Dave Cameron in the AAA Skills program and Summer Development Program. This past season Court won the city championships with the AAA Winnipeg B1 Monarchs and was selected Defenceman of the year at the recent AAA Winnipeg Awards Banquet and was drafted 46th overall by Swift Current.

  1. Jesiah Bennett

Bennet played at the Rink Hockey Academy for the 2018-19 season and has participated in the JHD development programs for several years.Bennet was drafted 52nd overall by Brandon.

  1. Josh Filmon

Filmon also played with the JHD Boys of the North and has worked with Dave Cameron for the past several seasons. Filmon was recently drafted 67th overall by Swift Current.

  1. Matthew Kieper

Kieper trains in the Ice Lab with Coach Andy and plays for the AAA Winnipeg B1 Sharks. Kieper was recently named MVP as well as Goalie of the Year at the AAA Winnipeg Awards Banquet and was drafted 63rd overall by Regina.

  1. Ethan Bueneventura

The third Manitoba goalie taken also played at the Rink Hockey Academy. Bueneventura played for the JHD Boys of the North and was drafted 77th overall by Calgary.

  1. Ben Saunderson

Saunderson from the Yellowhead Chiefs Bantam AAA played spring hockey with the JHD Boys of the North.  Saunderson was drafted 89th overall by Saskatoon.

  1. Karson King

King played for the JHD Boys of the North spring hockey program as well and this past season was on the Interlake Lightning AAA Bantam 1 recording a team-leading 41 points in 35 games. King has also worked with JHD coaches in the AAA prep and body checking and skills programs and was drafted 111th overall by Swift Current.

  1. Jaden Waddell

Waddell played spring hockey with JHD Boys of the North and has trained with Coach Dave Cameron at Iceplex. Waddell was drafted 117th overall by Moose Jaw.

  1. Owen Savoie

Another Ice Lab goaltender, Owen played this past season with the AAA Winnipeg B1 Hawks. Savoie was named Top Goaltender voted by WHL scouts at the second annual Winnipeg Jets AAA Classic, November 2019. Savoie was drafted 123rd overall by Prince Albert Raiders.

  1. Michael Cicek

Cicek led the Bantam AAA Monarchs with 44 points in 31 games this past season. He is a member of the JHD Summer Hockey Development Program and trains with coach Dave Cameron. Cicek was drafted 125th overall by Spokane.

  1. Kyle Grysiuk

Grysiuk was Drafted 139th overall by Seattle and has trained with JHD over the past several seasons. Grysiuk was also a member of the JHD Boys of the North coached by Larry Bumstead.

  1. Daimon Gardner

Gardner played JHD Boys of the North and continues to train at Iceplex in Focus Fitness in the summer. Gardner was drafted 162nd overall by Kelowna. Gardner’s sisters have also trained with the team here at Iceplex both on and off the ice.

  1. Owen Pickering

Pickering played for coach Larry Bumstead as well with the JHD Boys of the North spring team and has trained with JHD skills coaches a Bell MTS Iceplex over the past season. Pickering was drafted 177th by Swift Current in the 2019 WHL Draft.

The draft is the start of another chapter for all players, drafted or not drafted – this off-season is a big one for development.

Space is limited in the 2004 Bantam Jets Hockey Summer Development Program July 2 – August 23rd. This training program is for players who are looking for a more challenging hockey environment and aspire to play at an elite level. Athletes will train three days per week on and off the ice putting a greater emphasis on developing the strength and conditioning necessary to improve on-ice hockey performance and overall athletic ability.

WJHA girls team takes home Challenge Cup gold

First big win boosts confidence on and off the ice

The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA) prides itself on its impact on participants’ lives away from the hockey rink. It defines itself as a “play-based program designed to increase school attendance as well as high school graduation rates in socially and economically challenged schools in Winnipeg”. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have on ice successes too.

That was exactly the case in this year’s Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup (WJCC), a tournament that has become a holiday tradition at Bell MTS Iceplex. The 2018-19 tournament, presented by Pro hockey life, was the eighth annual and hosted multiple divisions of teams at various levels of minor hockey at the Bell MTS Iceplex from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 3, 2019. Always a much anticipated and memorable tournament, this year’s event proved to be an extra special one for a group of Female Peewee players from the WJHA.

The girls on the Peewee team, most of whom have been on the team for three years, have learned to play hockey during weekly WJHA on-ice sessions built into their school schedule. As their interest in the sport has grown, the girls were given the opportunity to join an extracurricular team and participate in the Challenge Cup with all costs covered by the WJHA.

The three-team division that the WJHA girls played in at the Challenge Cup proved to be quite competitive. With regulation and overtime solving nothing for both of their round robin games, the WJHA girls got to experience the pressure of a shootout, not once, but twice.

Player Precious Oryem, noted how great of an experience the shootouts were. The one-on-ones proved to be a little more nerve-wracking for goaltender Keyauna Robinson, but after stopping all 12 shootout shots she faced in the two round-robin games and propelling her team to victories in both tilts, she gained plenty of confidence going into the gold medal game, to which the team earned a bye.

The finals didn’t require extra time though, as the team took down the opposing Stars White 4-2 in the championship game. For many of the girls, it was the first big win, and it proved to be a special achievement to celebrate together.

Cierra Courchene, another player from the WJHA roster could hardly contain her excitement and the awesome feeling of winning the tournament, and she already can’t wait to try to win it again next year.

“They worked hard every shift and gave it their all. It kept the parents and fans on their toes with the overtimes and shootouts,” said Janelle Forcand, WJHA Female Hockey Coordinator. “It was an exciting gold medal game and there was a lot of support in the stands. I thought winning the tournament gave the team a lot of confidence going into the second half of the season and it was a great way for them to become a stronger team as a whole.”

The players’ parents were extremely proud of the girls too. Not just for their tournament win, but for the progress they’ve made throughout the WJHA program.

“When (my daughter) started her first season, she was barely able to stand in her skates,” said Tara Starr, a mother from the team. “Her stick was how she balanced and the game moved faster than her eyes could follow. It truly is amazing to see how far she and her teammates have come since that first season. Winning the Challenge Cup was a wonderful reminder for the girls to continue working hard, stay focused and dedicated, and to never give up on themselves and what they want to accomplish.”

Originally published in Game On Magazine, Year 7/Edition 5

Mentally Strong for the Playoffs

With the regular season wrapping up it’s everyone’s favourite time of year – the playoffs. For the teams and athletes that are still playing it is an exciting time as well as a time that can be filled with pressure and the anxiety to perform. Often times we hear that you have to be mentally strong to have success in the playoffs. You have just come off a long regular season that has taken its toll, both physically and mentally, and you have to find another gear. While this happens season after season, athletes are seldom given the tools to be mentally strong and manage stress.

There are two main ideas or concepts that need to be grasped to be able to maximize your mental fortitude.

  1. The ability to concentrate
    • Often times athletes focus on the wrong thing when trying to concentrate. The natural reaction is to focus most of their energy on just one thing. This is tough to do because there are so many stimuli and distractions during an athletic competition. What we actually want to do is be able to let everything go around what we are trying to focus on. In essence, concentration isn’t about focusing on one thing, it is about letting everything else go around that one thing so it is the only thing that remains. An example would be a goaltender concentrating on the puck. The puck is surrounded by stimuli – the crowd, the noise, the amount of time left on the clock, the situation (overtime, shootout etc.). This makes it extremely difficult to concentrate. If the goalie is able to let all the stimulus and distractions go around the puck so the only thing that remains is the puck, he or she will be much more successful.
  2. The understanding that everything starts, stops, then starts again
    • Everything in life follows this pattern right down to our basic foundation of breathing. Each breath starts, stops, then starts again. Once the breath stops it does not matter anymore. It is complete, done, over; then it starts all over again. That is the exact mental approach we want to practice and carry over to our performance in a game. Each period, each shift, each play starts, stops, and starts again. Once that play or shift or period is over – it is over; it does not matter. The next play or shift or period starts again and the cycle continues. This is the most effective way for an athlete to stay present in the moment and gives them the best chance to be successful. It is hard to perform when worrying about past mistakes. Often you hear people say you need to have a short memory in the playoffs; this is what is meant by that thought. Good or bad you have to let go and move on.

Both these mental attributes are learned skills and can be worked on and developed using the same practice. Find a place to sit that is quiet to start. Sit comfortably with good posture. Close your eyes and take deep breaths through your nose. Bring your attention to your breath, especially where you feel that breath. You may feel it most coming through your nose or through your chest expanding or wherever it may be. Now the tough part: try to clear your mind. This will be extremely tough. This is the whole exercise. As soon as a thought pops into your head, acknowledge the thought and that your mind has wandered. Stop and start again. At first, it will be hard to even go two breaths without having your mind wander. That’s normal. Stay with it. You haven’t failed. Remember everything starts, stops and starts again. We are concentrating on our breath by letting everything else go around it. Spend ten minutes a day working on this and as you become better at it you will be able to use it in other situations, such as in the game. This is how the much needed mental toughness for the playoffs is built.

Until next time,

Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment

AJ Zegeln

Originally published in Game On Magazine, Year 7/Edition 5