For Jason Frykas, the vice-president of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s St. Boniface Riels, Bell MTS Iceplex staff were lifesavers.
Not long after the ice-making plant at the Riels home rink, Notre Dame Arena, sputtered and wheezed to a premature death, Iceplex staffers such as GM Monte Miller, Programming Manager Dean Court and Master Scheduler Ted Szypowski, sprang into action. It was not long after the Riels organization was told that the earliest time it could get back into Notre Dame Arena was “probably December,” the Iceplex crew found a way to fit the Riels into the already-heavy schedule at a place that has become Winnipeg’s home of hockey.
We’re really fortunate that they were able to accept us into the fold so we can play there this season,” Frykas said. “We’re really excited about the change. It will be a nice change. Notre Dame treated us well, but when the plant went down and we were scrambling for a place to play, the Iceplex staff really stepped up and found us a place to play.
“Our general manager Cam Craig also has a close relationship with St. Boniface minor hockey and they’re coming out to the Iceplex, as well so it’s going to be an exciting season. There has been a lot of discussion with St. Boniface Minor and it’s going to be great to see a lot of young faces out there with us.”
The Riels are the newest tenants at a building that has become exactly what was planned for it the day it was built. The 172,000 square-foot, four-rink, multi-purpose hockey center has become one of the busiest sports venues in Western Canada.
“From the day it was built, our challenge was to make this place the home of hockey,” said Court. “We’ve worked as hard as we possibly can to welcome as many hockey players and their families and fans into our building from the day it opened. I always like to say we are user-friendly for everybody.
“And I think a big reason for our success is what we offer. We have a medical room. We have Focus Fitness. We provide safe, professional services to everyone who comes through the door.”
In 2018, more than 10,000 hockey players are expected to use the ice at Bell MTS Iceplex. It’s not only home for the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Blues, Balmoral Hall Blazers, St. Mary’s Flames and the St. Paul’s Crusaders, but for the entire Manitoba Women’s Jr. Hockey League, the North American Hockey Challenge, the Winnipeg Jets AAA Classic, the Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup, the Wild, the Monarchs and Warriors and on and on.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” said Miller. “You have your practice or game, work out in the gym and get in extra time at the Ice Lab.
“And even when we didn’t have ice on some rinks in the summer, we were still the home of the Canadian Ball Hockey Championships.”
Sarah Zacharias, the Director of Hockey at Balmoral Hall and the head coach of the Blazers, has been a fan of the Iceplex since the day the Blazers arrived.
“We’ve been part of the Iceplex since the day it opened and we knew from the moment the plans were unveiled that we wanted to be a part of it,” Zacharias said. “At the time, Steve McDonald was running the hockey program and he and Tina Alto, got together and agreed that the future of the Prep hockey program would rely on the success of the Iceplex. At the time, we were using the Winnipeg Winter Club, and they were great to us, but they simply didn’t have the amenities that we receive at the Iceplex.
“It’s really incredible to me what the Iceplex has done for our city and for our team in particular. We’re in the back corner with St. Paul’s right beside the Ice Lab so our girls can get some extra work after practice if they need to. We have everything we need. And I have a great relationship with all the people who work at the Iceplex and they just bend over backwards to help us make the program successful. And it’s really fun to have St. Mary’s in here with us. To have the two strongest female hockey programs in the province housed in the same building, says a lot about the building.”
The Bell MTS Iceplex was opened in August of 2010 and since then, it’s become the most important single building in the province when it comes to both professional and amateur hockey. From the day it opened, it’s been Manitoba’s home rink.
WHOSE HOME RINK IS IT?
Extended Use Agreement Tenants
Winnipeg Jets National Hockey League
Manitoba Moose American Hockey League
Winnipeg Blues Manitoba Junior Hockey League
Balmoral Hall Blazers Junior Women’s Hockey League
St. Mary’s Flames Canadian Sport School Hockey League
St. Paul’s Crusaders Winnipeg High School Hockey League
Limited Use Agreement Tenants
St. Boniface Riels Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League
Winnipeg Wild Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League
Winnipeg Monarchs Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
Winnipeg Warriors Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
Assiniboine Park Rangers Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
South Winnipeg Twins Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League
Iceplex Adult Hockey League
17th Wing (Canadian Military) Hockey League
Manitoba Sledge Hockey League
Winnipeg Jets AAA Classic
Winnipeg Jets AA Showdown
Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup
High School Provincial Championships
Hockey Manitoba Cup (Adult Championships)
North American Hockey Classic
Mustang Challenge Hockey Tournament
Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre Tournament
As another hockey season quickly approaches and athletes are wrapping up their off-season training regimens, new obstacles begin to take shape.
With tryouts and training camps upon us, there is a certain amount of both uncertainty and anxiety that can creep into an athlete’s mind. If these feelings are not dealt with, they can, unfortunately, have a negative impact on the athlete’s performance and that’s not what you want after spending all summer working hard in the gym and on the ice, in order to get better.
These mental obstacles must be met head on. Avoiding them, trying to navigate around them or trying to change your path of the vision that you set out for yourself, will not work. These obstacles can be fear of not knowing people or your environment or a fear of not being comfortable in the training camp testing.
Don’t avoid these fears. Address them right away. The longer the wait, the bigger the obstacle becomes in your mind. If the environment is unfamiliar, go out to camp a couple days early, see the rink, get familiar with your surroundings. On the first day of camp introduce yourself to as many people as you can, from staff to other players.
You might be surprised how many other people feel the same way you feel and are more than happy to get to know you and talk to about what’s in store for everybody. Go out and make friends.
If there is testing, send a request to the team asking them for a copy of the testing protocols so you can look them over and go over them with your current coach and your trainer.
All these things have fairly simple solutions. I’m not saying they’re easy to address because everyone handles stress differently, but they are all obstacles that can be overcome and they are obstacles facing everyone at camp. Even many of the veterans.
So as you prepare for the season make a list of any concerns or fears that present themselves as obstacles in your quest to be successful and then make a plan to overcome them. Write it all down and execute it.
In doing this, the obstacle actually becomes the way to you achieving your goals.
Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Dylan McIlrath is a physical freak. His combination of size and athleticism is a rare find and when mixed with a blue collar work ethic it creates a machine.
A brief look at some of McIlrath’s numbers will give you a sense of just how freaky he is. He is 6-foot-5 with a wingspan to match. He weighs 235 pounds with a body fat percentage below 10. He deadlifts more than 500 pounds and is fast, explosive and conditioned. So how does an athlete achieve this?
The first part is genetics. His parents clearly provided him with some good genes in order for him to be that tall and have arms so long that his knuckles are touching your face when yours are reaching nothing but the vast expanse of air that separates the two of you.
The second part is if you have some natural physical gifts you don’t sit back and rely solely on them for success. You make sure you are always the hardest worker in the room and you widen your separation from the pack. Here is how Dylan McIlrath trains:
Phase 1. Recovery: Immediately after the season, time is taken to recover from the rigours of a long, hard hockey schedule. The travel, the game frequency and the physical nature of hockey takes a toll on the body and a couple weeks should be spent focusing on proper nutrition and proper sleep. Everything Dylan will do during his off season will work better with a rested body so it’s important to start on the right foot and take some time to rest after the season.
Phase 2. Primer: Dylan’s first phase in the gym is the primer. The main purpose is to work towards removing any movement restrictions, increase strength base (both maximal and relative), establish base level conditioning and prepare his body for more explosive training to come (eccentric loading to strengthen tendons).
Phase 3. Strength: McIlrath spends this phase increasing his strength base as much as he can. The strength base is the engine that drives all other athletic attributes. It’s why proper attention should always be paid to being as strong as possible. Dylan tests his big lifts: bench press, squat, chin ups and deadlifts and then works off of calculated percentages. There is no guess work here. His work is precise and efficient.
Phase 4. Power: Once the big man is moving well and he has gone through some quick adaptations in strength the focus, he switches to developing power. Strength production is still a priority to increase force, but equally as important is how quickly he can produce that force. The quick production of force is what constitutes power. To develop this, Dylan uses moderate to what we call light/heavy weight and focuses on moving it fast with good technique. Olympic lifts and variations of standard strength lifts are executed in this phase. His conditioning also continues to increase.
Phase 5. Speed: If you want to be fast you have to practice moving fast. It is no different for the big man. A high emphasis is put on speed in this phase using sprints, Plyometrics, movement drills and exercises using accommodating resistance. Strength levels are maintained and conditioning is increased to peak performance. This is the final phase of the off season and it’s what leads Dylan into training camp.
Creating an athletic machine does not happen by accident. It’s a little bit of natural talent mixed with pure hard work.
Remember: Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment
AJ Zeglen, Focus Fitness Manager & Head Strength Coach
The official start of fall may not be for another couple weeks, but the unofficial start of autumn has three telltale signs:
The days get short, the air gets cold, and Winnipeg Jets training camp begins.
That’s the case this week, as the first on-ice session of the 2018 edition of Jets training camp takes place on Sept. 14 at Bell MTS Iceplex, and ramps up to another level the very next day, with the fifth annual Winnipeg Jets Fan Fest, presented by Bell MTS.
All training camp sessions are free and open to the public, with two ice sessions taking place each day – until the number of preseason games begins to dwindle. It’s a unique opportunity for fans to see players in preseason prep mode, scrimmaging against each other and being coached through drills.
For some players, like captain Blake Wheeler, training camp is a chance to prepare for the long season ahead. He also says it’s important that the team puts the two rounds of playoff success in the rear-view mirror.
“When the puck drops this season, it’s not going to be game one of the Western Finals again,” said Wheeler. “There is a long road to get back to where we got to last year. It doesn’t happen just because we want it to happen, or we think we’re better than everyone else, or because we had a good year last year.
“We have to buy into that right from day one of camp, and realize how hard it was to get to where we got to.”
With that being the message from the captain, fans can expect high-tempo practices throughout camp. Players are split into two groups, and do a combination of on-ice work, off-ice workouts, and video sessions throughout the 17 official days of camp.
After a season that saw him win the American Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year Award, forward Mason Appleton put in a hard summer of training, and plans to soak in all he can at this year’s camp – and fight for a spot on the final roster.
“You see there are opportunities, you see there are spots open,” said Appleton. “But that’s not what I’m focused on. I’m just trying to focus on myself and do the things that make me a good hockey player. You can’t control those things, and I really have to control my own game and be the best player I can be every day.”
With last season’s accolades behind them and everyone bringing their A-game, who has the fire and the footwork to make the jump?
Find out with a front row seat to the action at Bell MTS Iceplex where you can see prospects’ performance firsthand, gauge the chemistry between new and returning players, and even find yourself an early fan of some of the newest recruits and future Moose players.
Stay tuned to WinnipegJets.com, as well as the team’s social media accounts – (@NHLJets and facebook.com/nhljets/) for ice time schedules throughout camp, as well as player profiles and behind-the-scenes access to the Jets as the prepare for another exciting season!
There are many different aspects to training for a sport.
There are physical aspects such as exercise, nutrition, sleep and practice. There are psychological components such as visualization, stress management and confidence. And while all these aspects are equally important when it comes to success, some of these components are traditionally done with the help of coaching.
There are many variations of a saying that is used all the time that goes something like “(insert sport name) is 20 per cent physical and 80 per cent mental,” or, “getting fit is 30 per cent in the gym and 70 per cent in the kitchen.”
I’m not sure where these sayings came from or why they ever became so popular, but I can assure you they are false. If you want to have success there is no division of effort based on percentages. Every aspect is 100 per cent of your effort all the time. The sport you play and train for is 100 per cent physical and 100 per cent mental. Getting fit is 100 per cent in the gym and 100 per cent in the kitchen. One aspect does not outweigh the others if you want to truly do your best and reach your full potential.
But remember, this is not easy to do without help. This is where a good coach can be of service and really help you out. The problem is, as mentioned before, we traditionally utilize coaching only in certain aspects and not others. An example of this, of course, is that for hockey we have a coach on ice for the players. Every practice and every game, there is a coach providing guidance and structure to put you in the best position to develop and be successful. That’s great, exactly how it should be.
Now let’s keep going with this example. When we step off the ice what coaching do we have? Athletes working with trainers has become increasingly popular over the years, which is great. But what about nutrition? A very small percentage of people consult a nutrition coach for advice. Finally, what about mental performance? Very few people enlist the help of a mental performance coach to help with their success.
When dealing with the mental aspect you actually here things such as “they’re a big kid, they can figure it out,” or “be a professional, deal with it.” That’s crazy. We would never even send a pro hockey team on the ice and say “You are pro players, figure it out.” We would never have athletes in the gym and say, “You’ve been training for a couple years now, you’re a big kid, figure it out.” Can you imagine? Coaching is coaching is coaching.
It doesn’t matter what aspects the coach covers, they are all equally important. The structure, adherence, accountability and guidance a good coach offers is an absolute game changer.
So evaluate where you are now and where you would like to be in the future. Take a look at all the different aspects you need to be successful and which ones are being properly addressed and which ones are not.
Go find a coach who can help you. Don’t leave it to a guess and don’t leave it to chance. You owe it to yourself.
Until next time,
Strength, Courage, Hustle, Commitment
AJ Zeglen, Focus Fitness Manager & Head Strength Coach