The annual Smithers Hockey School kicked off this week at the hockey arena with some star power in tow.
The 11th annual event brought together roughly 98 kids from all around the province for a week-long school at the Smithers Civic Arena. Kids of all hockey levels learned everything from basic skating skills to passing and shooting
“Things have been really good,” said Dave Tucker, head instructor with the Northern Hockey School who has been running the school for the past seven years. “We try and cover every aspect of the game in a week. We crammed a lot of stuff in, in a short amount of time.
“It’s a bit hot for some of the kids. But we survived,” he laughed.
The well-known school draws young hockey players from places including Prince George, Prince Rupert and Dease Lake, with roughly 65 per cent of participants from out of town, noted Tucker.
“It’s nice to see the kids every year and see how they’re progressing and catch up with them again every summer,” he said.
Vancouver Canuck defenceman Dan Hamhuis was also on hand to help teach the kids.
Tricia Helin from Prince Rupert couldn’t wait to sign up her 14-year-old son for the second year in a row.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the camp and I’ve talked to other parents and they say this one is the best,” she said. “They’ve been doing a lot of neat drills that I haven’t seen them do back home that are different and unique. So, hopefully [my son] will take them home and use them.”
This was Jillian Turko’s first year at the camp.
“It’s awesome. The environment is fun. The people are nice and you do a lot of fun things,” said the 11-year-old.
According to Tucker, the school isn’t just about hockey.
“It’s nice for the kids just to hang out,” he said. “As the week goes on, you see kids from different communities who don’t really know each other and by the end of the week, they have some good friends. It’s quite rewarding to see that kind of stuff.”
And for many people, the chance to meet Hamhuis was a plus.
“We’re big Canucks fans,” said Helin. “I just like that Dan is coming back to the community and giving back.”
Hamhuis, who has also helped out at previous camps, said he enjoys passing on his hockey skills to kids at the camp.
“I think it’s gone really well this week. All the kids are having a lot of fun, the weather cooperated nicely to have some fun outside on the dry land. It was great to be out on the ice with kids,” he said.
“When I was a kid, there were some guys who ran hockey schools in Smithers and they were a big influence on me. I hope to be able to do the same for the kids here — give them an opportunity to be better hockey players.”