If you wanted to take part in Jason Gordon’s Hockey 1st Skills Academy this past week at the Gallagher Centre, you had to be on the ball. The eighth annual hockey camp sold out back in April with 96 athletes lacing up the skates.
“It really sold out quickly this year,” said Gordon. “We only want so many players to a instructor, so we had to put a cap on how many we allow to sign up. We were already sold out in April. We had a lot of local players, but also people from out of town. We had one player from Cold Lake, Alberta.”
Gordon’s camp targets novice, peewee, atom and beginner hockey players. The purpose behind it is to improve players’ skating, conditioning and knowledge on the game.
“The goal of the camp is to help younger hockey players in peewee and below that,” he said. “We do a lot of power skating work, but we also help them with meal plans, do dry land conditioning and watch video. There’s a lot involved.”
Although they aren’t necessarily unorthodox anymore with hockey evolving over the years, Gordon’s drills in the camp are a lot more complex than simply skating the circles. He brought bungee-like cords for skating strength and parachute-like apparatuses to push players to keep their legs moving.
“Over the past couple years, these types of techniques have really become popular,” said Gordon. “I have seen them in other camps like one I take my son to Edmonton, so I try to incorporate them in my camp.”
The academy entailed several instructors, mostly local, but also one who makes a living playing in the NHL – Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod.
“It was great to have a lot of local hockey people help me out,” said Gordon. “It was really cool to have Cody come out. It’s always nice when you have someone who played major junior and went onto the NHL. He was a big help.”
One difference in this year’s camp compared to past years was the atmosphere. Gordon incorporated a more upbeat atmosphere with music in the background and a microphone attached to his helmet for him to cheer on skaters.
“I got the idea for the microphone from the school I teach at,” he said. “I wanted to stay in constant communication with players and be able to get information across from one end of the rink to the other, so I rented a microphone and got it hooked up through the Gallagher’s sound system. It’s always nice to have music in the background, so I put it in to keep the players moving and involved.”