KEEWATIN, ON - A new generation of hockey greats is being groomed in Keewatin this week.
For the fifth straight year, Philadelphia Flyers captain, Olympic gold medalist and local hockey hero Mike Richards laced up for his annual hockey camp at Keewatin Memorial Arena.
In partnership with Hockey Canada, 92 skaters from Kenora and area — and as far away as Toronto, Saskatoon and Nevada — stepped onto the ice with the Stanley Cup finalist to learn the ropes.
“It ranges from younger kids just skating forward and backwards to puck handling for the older kids,” Richards said. They’re “doing different things with the puck and stopping and starting and (we’re) more or less just getting on the ice and teaching the basic skills of hockey.”
As before, proceeds from the camp go to the Kenora and Lake of the Woods Regional Community Foundation and, while this year’s haul is yet to be calculated, the camp donated more than $8,000 last summer.
Kennedy Cross, a seven-year-old whose been in the game for two years now, said he hasn’t had occasion to meet Richards yet but it feels good to cut into the same ice.
“I learned how to skate backwards and how to do this,” he said, dropping his bag of equipment to demonstrate newly acquired stick-handling skills.
But his favourite part of the game, he advised, is just having fun.
“It’s fun to see everybody out there,” Richards agreed. “It’s nice to see the different kids that have been here from day one and how much they’ve gotten better over the years and grown and watching them do it.
“It’s fun to see them progress as hockey players and, obviously, grow a lot bigger as kids too but it is nice to see them do so well in hockey and be a part of it.”