GORE BAY – The Gore Bay arena was a hive of activity as a hockey clinic was held during the Christmas holidays and was thoroughly enjoyed by youngsters from across Manitoulin.
“It was a lot of fun, it was great,” said Roger Chenard, who ran the clinic.
The event was held over three evenings, Friday, December 27, Saturday, December 28 and during the afternoon of Monday, December 30. The players, in the Little Skates (age 4-6), Intermediate (age 7-9) and Advanced (age 10-14) categories took to the ice for an hour each day.
“We had about 25 kids in total register, although they were not all in attendance at each of the sessions,” stated Mr. Chenard. “Some play rep hockey.”
Mr. Chenard said he had the youngsters go through many drills. “One of the biggest things we focused on was puck control, player position, shooting, passing and of course skating. This year we had a goalie on hand, so we taught the kids the proper way to warm up their goalie, make sure they get shots on the pads, belly, glove and blocker and that they are not out their firing slapshots—trying to kill the goalie,” he quipped.
The players also learned skating skills both forward and backward and vice-versa, with and without the puck. They also learned how to make passes and shoot ‘one-timers,’ wrap around the net skills and target practice—the latter where targets were put in the nets in the bottom left and upper right corners, the latter so they learn how to roof the puck.
There was instruction on how to make dekes, a lot of drills on passing the puck accurately while skating and on give and goes, continued Mr. Chenard. “The idea is that when you make a pass, you shouldn’t be standing still, you should be skating when you are passing the puck.”
Mr. Chenard said that while the players may not have been really good on the first day in terms of completing the drills properly, by the third day most had improved substantially. Most drills were done with the puck being used, he said noting as well, “we also had an attitude drill. When one of the players would say ‘I don’t think I can do that drill,’ I would tell them they could, and that ‘if you can’t run with the big dogs, you’d better stay on the porch.’ He said by the end of the clinic if a skater said he couldn’t do a drill, they would hear this expression from one of the other players.
Mr. Chenard has had extensive experience coaching kids’ hockey on all levels, in the NOHA, AA, AAA and house leagues in Sudbury and Valley East. He even worked at the Garson arena while he was in Grades 9-13 at school.
“I think I have more fun than the kids,” stated Mr. Chenard. He noted, “Dave Hillyard (Gore Bay Arena Manager) organizes the hockey clinic and looks after the ice during the clinic.”
Each player pays $30 for the three hours in total for the clinic. “Everything is done through the town,” he pointed out. He is the Town of Gore Bay’s foreman and volunteers his time to run the clinic.
On the last day of the clinic all the players were provided with pizza and juice, donated by Mr. Chenard.
“We will be holding another hockey clinic during the March Break. This is open to any youngster, as long as they have the right hockey year. And they don’t have to be registered in minor hockey,” he added.