Photo contributed Players gather round Don Hay for instruction during the Junior Prep Prospects Camp held last week and the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre.

Coaches and instructors share wealth of experience

Sicamous hockey camp focuses on player development.

Organizers of a local hockey camp have stepped up their game this year to deliver a focus on player development.

Geoff Fuoco has been organizing summer hockey schools in Sicamous for a while now. This year, however, the assistant head coach with the Junior B Sicamous Eagles sought a little help from his friends. The result was last week’s Junior Prep Prospects Camp at the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre.

The five-day camp saw instruction on the ice and off by the likes of Kamloops Blazers head coach Don Hay, the Vernon Vipers head coach Mark Ferner, strength and conditioning physiologist Greg Kozoris, rehabilitation and performance therapist Cory Cameron, former NHL’ers Sandy Moger and David Oliver and others.

Fuoco said the focus of this dream team was player development.

“The whole point of the camp was to bring development back to Sicamous and get us back on the map,” said Fuoco. “A lot of kids will go to the Banff and Kelowna academies and stuff like that, and we’re trying to get them back here…”

The camp was open to players born between 1998 and 2002, with a couple of determined 2003s taking part.

While the camp benefits players at a variety of levels, it also plays a role in preparing prospective Junior B Eagles for the team’s main camp, Aug. 25 to 27. It helps that Rob Fitzpatrick, the team’s new head coach, is also a camp instructor.

“It works like a hand-in-glove, with our spring camp and what Geoff’s doing with his prospects camp,” said Eagles general manager Wayne March. “It gives us a chance, the coaches and Geoff and them, to evaluate all these kids more than just once. And out here, I mean, with the coaching staff he has, you can really do a good evaluation because when you have Ferner out there and Don Hay, kids don’t stand around.”

Hay said what he was looking for first and foremost was effort.

“First off you need a lot of determination, you need to do a lot of work,” said Hay. “You know, you’re on the ice a lot, you burn a lot of energy – if you can work your way through that and come with a good work ethic, you’re going to get better.”

Hay said the camp has been great for everyone involved, and credited the quality and calibre of his fellow instructors.

“We have really good quality people on the ice – Rob Fitzpatrick, David Oliver, Mark Ferner, Sandy Moger – all real quality people in the Okanagan. So I think it’s hard to beat the good instruction players are receiving.”

Regarding the camp’s focus on player development, Fuoco and March emphasized the importance of being able to skate. This means having plenty of ice time, something Sicamous is able to offer.

“You can teach the kid this, this and this, but skating, they got to get out there and do it themselves and learn,” said March. “It makes them a better skater and a better player. And then they go to camps like this where they get instruction, and it just all comes together.”

Fuoco adds the camp also has the benefit of being more affordable than those in larger urban centres.

“It’s affordable, for the amount of ice they’re getting four and a quarter hours of skating (a day), an hour of dryland, the goalies are getting four to six hours a day,” said Fuoco.

This year’s Junior Prep Prospects Camp filled quickly. For more information, email arena@cablelan.net or sfmhs013@gmail.com, or call 250-837-1553.