It may be Summer, but KC Ice Center is hosting clinics, camps

Podein-KCIC

JUNE 2015 – Beginning July 6, the KC Ice Center will be swarming with kids learning how to develop hockey skills. Every aspect of the game will be refined in the four-day clinics that have two hours of ice time with an hour of off-ice training.

The off-ice training is a combination of cardio and strength training geared toward the focus of the clinic. Doug Dorley, a former Bowling Green lineman who was in camp with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2000, runs the off-ice training.

If the clinic is focused on skating, the off-ice training will involve leg exercises and other exercises that build stamina. The shooting clinics will have wrist curls and other exercises to build strength in the hands, wrists and arms.

The first clinic is the Power Skating clinic. The most basic skill in hockey is the central focus of the KCIC. And for good reason.

“In the NHL, the highest level of hockey in the world, the guys got there because of their skating,” said Dean Nelson, general manager of the KCIC.

“We teach everything from basic strides, to edge work to top-speed-to-stopping skill. They don’t even see nets or pucks until the third day. This is one clinic that’s very much focused on skating.”

The next week the focus switches to shooting with the Sniper Shooting clinic. “We go through everything from wrist shots to snap shots to slap shots (if they’re old enough) to one-timers to back-hands to dekes, every scenario of shooting,” Nelson said. “We have six nets on the ice with six goalies. They go from station to station to try the different types of shots.”

kcicecenter.comNelson noted the younger kids don’t need to work on slap shots, because they don’t get an opportunity to use them in games. “You don’t get to do slap shots until you’re in the Pee-Wees,” he said, “probably because of the skill set. It’s dangerous to bring your stick up that high and swing it when you’re at a young age, because you don’t have the balance.

“They want to do it, but they don’t realize that very seldom is the slap shot used in the game. You have to have the time to load up to get off a slap shot. We want them to focus on things they’ll use in game situations.”

After Sniper Shooting, the scope broadens to a Five Skills clinic. The five hockey skills are skating, shooting, stick handling, passing and battles. Just like with baseball, the best hockey players are “five tool” players. This clinic helps young skaters develop all five araes.

Stick handling really is a misnomer, as handling the stick is pretty basic; you just hold on to the stick. It is really puck-handling.

“It’s handling the puck, using the stick, keeping it under control,” Nelson said. “We’ll work on things like front-to-back, back-to-front, side-to-side or toe-drags. We’ll work on handling the puck with their head up. It’s like dribbling a basketball without looking at the ball. You have to train your eyes to do that.”

Passing is more complicated than it sounds as well. It can involve stationery passing or passing while flying down the ice. The pass can come from —or to— the backhand or the front side. The training involves “catching” passes with the stick, or a touch-pass, which is more of a redirection than anything else.

The fifth skill is winning battles. Hockey is a series of continuous battles, and not just face-offs. “It’s out of the corner. It’s two-on-ones,” Nelson said. “If you win the 50/50 pucks you win the game. We do drills where we have a guy bring the puck out of his zone. He’ll get pinched and checked, but he’s got to find a way out. There are all kinds of drills that relate to battles.”

After the Five Skills clinic, the KCIC will host another Power Skating clinic July 27-30. The Power Skating clinic is popular enough that it requires a second session.

And then the fun really starts.

Beginning August 3, the fourth annual Battle Camp takes over the KC Ice Center. It’s the only all-day camp of the summer, and it’s the highlight of the summer.

Nelson’s childhood friend, Shjon Podein, a 13-year NHL player who won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, helps out.

“The first year I did a battle camp, I asked him to help. He’s been here every year, because he knows the importance of winning battles,” Nelson said. “He was the epitome of a battler during his NHL career, a third-line grinder, a penalty killer. He was always the hardest worker.

“When I approached Shjon with the idea, he said he was in. Little did I know that he would keep coming back year after year. He texted me the other day and told me that he couldn’t wait until Battle Camp. Nobody runs a camp like it. We change things up to keep it lively for the kids. We call it ‘controlled chaos,’ because that’s what hockey is at times.

“Kids learn best through playing the game, not a bunch of drills. It’s pond hockey. It’s the excitement of the game. At Battle Camp, we have a series of battles going on at various spots on the ice. At the end of the hour, they want to keep going.”

The final clinic is the New Skater. While all the other clinics and camps require at least one year’s worth of hockey experience, the final clinic is for the newbies.

“We give you three days to learn as many skills as you can,” Nelson said.

All camps are for kids born between 1998 and 2006. The kids are broken down within the camps and clinics. They take the first 30 kids at each age level. The only exception is Battle Camp, which is broken down by skill level, more than age level, because they want the kids to compete against someone at the same level.

The one certainty is there will be plenty of kids to go around.

Go to www.KCIceCenter.com to register for the camps or clinics.

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