One of the most unique camps that the Okanagan Hockey School offers is the Battle and Compete Camp, which is designed to push players aged 11 to 17 to compete at a higher level and become more comfortable with body contact.
The camp, which is available in Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Penticton, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, emphasises a lot of one-on-one battles similar to what players go through during games.
“The camp is designed to teach players how to protect themselves in one-on-one situations,” said Head Instructor Mike Needham. “We teach them to protect the puck and protect themselves from taking heavy contact. The game is about one-on-one battles, which is what we teach kids all the time. If you win all your one on one battles in the game, you are going to win the game every time. It’s a skill that is often overlooked.”
The on-ice components of the camp also focus on small area games, cycling concepts and engagement drills to name a few.
“We do all types of drills,” said Needham, who has a Stanley Cup ring from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “A lot of it is competition; one-on-one in a circle, two-on-two net front where you have to battle for net position with the defensive players. There are various drills designed to put the kids into certain situations that are game-like, and also take them out of their comfort level.”
Winning your battles and being able to keep, or gain, control of the puck in today’s game is more important than ever. OHS Edmonton Instructor Drew Nichol says he has seen his fair share of players change their game for the good, even after just one week of the camp.
“You see a ton of guys come into the camp that are on the verge of making that next step,” said Nichol. “It so many situations you see a difference in the players after just one week. When you bring young men on the ice for these camps, the ones that stand out the most are the ones that are battling and competing.
“You want to own the puck,” added Nichol, who recently won the CIS Championship with the University of Alberta Golden Bears. “Coaches want guys that want to win and the guys that want to win compete for the puck.”
Players receive 2.5 hours of ice-time daily, strength and conditioning training, off-ice puck skills training and written evaluation and feedback from the coaching staff. Without a doubt, the camp has been popular with players since being introduced, and now with the changes to hitting in minor hockey, it’s important as ever for kids to learn to engage physically the proper way.
“It’s one of the most desirable camps and it fills quickly,” said Needham. “With taking the hitting out of Pee Wee the last year, those kids are now not taught the battling skills until first year Bantam. This camp gives those kids a lot of the skills they will need as they move up the minor hockey ranks.”
For more information on the Battle and the Compete Camp, visit: okanaganhockey.com/camps/battle-compete
Playing at OHA was an amazing opportunity. It gives you the chance to train like a pro everyday to develop your game. Playing in a great league, along with the on and off ice training gives you the upper hand on other competition. I am thankful to have had the chance to play there."