SUN Hockey Pool

Hockey camp helps future NHL stars

Rick Rypien. (QMI file photo)

Rick Rypien. (QMI file photo)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:15 PM ET

With five years of playing for the Vancouver Canucks under his belt, Rick Rypien recently returned to his hometown of Coleman to lead this year’s Rocky Mountain Ice Hockey School.

For Rypien himself, the camp represented a chance for him to come home and give back to the community where he was raised and where he first laced up his skates for minor hockey. Well over fifty young hockey players took to the ice at the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex for the weeklong conditioning camp, which was held from August 2 through 6.

Once there, the NHL stars of the future were split up into two age categories. There was one for children aged 6 through 9 and then another for older kids aged 10 through 13.

Regardless of their age, Rypien, along with other local hockey players, helped the eager youngsters with stopping, starting and crossover techniques as well as the basics of stick handling, passing and necessary group work.

He said it is important that he gets to work with the younger kids and that they improve their skills before the camp ends.

“Hopefully, I can teach them and they can take something out of it,” he said. “It would be nice to see someone from this area or someone from around here to be fortunate enough as I was to make that big step. It’s always good when you see somebody from a smaller community make it to the highest level, the highest league possible.”

Rypien hopes that he can teach the kids what he had the opportunity to learn growing up and that if making the NHL is their dreams, then he would love to see it happen. For him, the most important part of the week is seeing the improvements in each player.

“Just from the start of the week to the end of the week, you just see how much players progress through a matter of four or five days and how much they develop,” he said. “It’s also good to work on the young kids because they have a lot of energy and they’re a lot of fun.”

According to Rypien, players come back year after year and he enjoys seeing their improvements. He said at a young age, the game is more about having fun, but if individuals are serious about hockey like he was, it takes a lot of hard work.

“You just have to stay with it,” he said. “If you enjoy the game and you’re willing to put the work in, I think you can do pretty much anything you want.”

Many of the players come up to him and say thanks for coming out, he said. As well, Rypien said he can tell the ones who really want to learn because they ask him if they’re doing the techniques properly.

The same individuals who run the camp come back with each passing year and he said it’s special for the other leaders to return to the hockey camp. The trainers come from both the Crowsnest Pass area and from B.C. as well.

Each year, Trever Hertz, Taylor and Mitch Makin, Kevin Petovello, Alex Wakaluk, Tom Margetak, Tyler Stella and Wes Rypien return to run the hockey school.


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