The camp was open to players ages six and up, and included on and off-ice sessions on skill development, core and stamina training, and proper nutrition and preparation. It ended earlier this afternoon at the EnCana Events Centre with a scrimmage between players ages 14 and older that was very competitive and fast-paced.
Ryan Friesen, 14, and Kody McManus, 16, were two young players taking part in the camp. Both play right wing, Friesen for a bantam rep team and McManus for a midget rep team. Both were clearly exhausted from the scrimmage, but they obviously enjoyed the level of competition.
“It was fun!” said McManus. “They worked us pretty hard there!”
“Everyone is sweating because everyone was going really hard,” added Friesen.
The two said they took part in about six on-ice sessions and four dry-land sessions throughout this week.
“I felt like we got lots out of it,” said Friesen. “Definitely, the coaching staff were helping us out a lot, and every little move that we didn’t do right they helped us out on. It wasn’t just something we went out there and did, it felt like we actually got something out of it.”
“The coaching staff is really nice and so are all the players. They just helped us out with everything,” added McManus.
Both said they have playing in the Juniors in their sights in the future, and preferably for the Rage. Friesen said having the opportunity to play on the ice at the EnCana Events Centre really gave them a good feel for the speed of the game at that level.
“They have more fast-paced drills in here, so it kind of give us an idea of how fast of hockey we’re going to be playing,” he said.
One of the current Rage players looking to impart some of his knowledge of the game on the younger players was left-winger Luke Recknagle, who said he enjoyed the chance to be on the other side of the bench.
“It pretty good, coaching the kids and telling them what things to work on that you were told to work on when you were younger,” he said. “It’s nice to help them out.”
He said the day started with skill training in the morning, and the point of the scrimmage was to test those skills in game-time situations. He said, for example, a lot of emphasis was put on puck handling around the boards and how to pick up and pass pucks along the rims.
“In our league, it’s pretty fast out there and you don’t have much time to think, so if a puck comes around the rim you got to be able to pick it up and give-and-go right away,” he said.
Of course, Recknagle said he is itching to get back on the ice himself as the Rage look to begin their second season in the North American Hockey League in September.
“I’m pretty excited, and ready to play some good hockey and travel,” he said. “I think we will have a really good year – we have a good coaching staff, and we saw how the league was last year so we’re used to it now and hopefully we can be the top team in our division.”
Be sure to check out Recknagle and the rest of the Dawson Creek Rage on Sept. 2 for an exhibition match against the Grande Prairie Storm on Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. at the EnCana Events Centre. Tickets are only $11 and are available at the Tiger Box Office Plus or Dawson Co-op High Performance Ticket Outlet, or by phoning 1-877-339-TIXX (8499), or going online to www.dawsonco-optickets.com. For season tickets and flex-pack information call 1-250-795-3306.