KMHA seeing the benefits of additional skill development

  • Magazine photo 1 power skating
  • magazine photo 2 individual player
  • magazine photo 3 player and coach
  • magazine photo 4 rick heinz ice
  • magazine photo 5 rick heinz goalies and coach
  • magazine photo 6 rick heinz goalie location with Tim

As part of their development program, Kitchener Minor Hockey Association has provided power skating and goalie training to rep players, both girls and boys, from Novice to Pee Wee at no additional cost. Kitchener Minor Hockey has turned to Rick Heinz Goalie and Hockey School to provide this additional skill development for the last number of seasons.

Kitchener Minor Hockey alumnus Tim Fewster is the owner of the Rick Heinz Goalie and Hockey School, a position that he has held for the past 10 years. Tim was drafted to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL out of the Kitchener Greenshirts Midget program. Tim decided to take the college route and played four years of NCAA hockey for Southern New Hampshire University where he obtained his degree in Sports Administration as well as his MBA. After a short stint with Louisiana Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central league, Tim decided to enter the work force and was hired by RBC. Prior to starting at RBC Tim helped out at the Rick Heinz Goalie school and things quickly evolved. Tim never set foot in RBC as an employee, and he took over the goalie school transforming it into a full hockey school.

The program employs five head go alie instructors and five head power skating instructors, all of whom have played at the junior level or higher. They work with five minor hockey associations throughout Canada as well as running satellite clinics around the USA. Many of these instructors are also educators and understand the changing game and athlete.

This is important when it comes to communicating with today’s athletes. The program also employs numerous minor hockey players throughout the summer.

The Rick Heinz Goalie and Hockey School has specifically focused and developed their power skating program for Kitchener Minor Hockey. Through constant feedback and communication from both coaches and instructors, the program has evolved over the years from multiple teams being on the ice at one time for four sessions to what we have set in place today. Today, all KMHA rep teams from Novice to Pee Wee on both the boys and girls side have six power skating sessions specific to their team. The sessions are scheduled at the start of the season to ensure consistency, repetition, and building strong skating habits right from the start. The skating sessions also provide goalie training that is specific to that position. Because coaches are on the ice with their teams, the coaches are able to develop themselves in areas where many aren’t comfortable, and pick up skills, teaching methods, and drills that can then be implemented in their season practices.

Updating the skills and program is key to the development of Kitchener Minor Hockey Player Development. Gone are the days of just skating up and down the ice. The entire game has changed, and the power skating program focuses on tight edge work, balance, obtaining immediate speed in small areas, as well as creating and building speed through turns and crossovers.

The goalie training has evolved over the years as well. Kitchener Minor Hockey goalies receive 10 weekly sessions throughout the season that are specific to them. Goalies share the ice with goalies of their own ages over four one-hour sessions each week, Novice, Atom, Pee Wee, Bantam/Midget.

House league goalies continue to receive their training within the KMHA rinks while the KMHA rep goalies attend a new goalie specific training centre that opened Thanksgiving 2017. This facility allows for six to eight goalies to work at once with the instructors.

The goaltender training is unique and not seen within many other associations. This has evolved over the years to ensure Kitchener goalies are receiving development opportunities that weren’t available previously. Many coaches at all levels will admit that goaltending is the hardest position to develop and scout with very few qualified goalie coaches available. As a head coach, we simply want somebody to stop the puck, we don’t care how, just stop the puck. There is much more to the position than simply stopping the puck. Just like the game itself, goaltending has changed over the years. Simply watch an NHL game from even just 10 years ago and compare it to today’s game. The difference is obvious with equipment, movement, and the pure athleticism of the position.

Goalies develop their own style best suited to their body, their size, and their comfort. One thing that remains constant, however, with a goalie is their eyes and the fact that they need to understand and read the game in front of them. They need to take advantage of playing in the only position where the whole game lies in front of them. For this reason being a student of the game, understanding how to track the play, and understanding the tendencies of opposition players is just as important as quick reflexes and movement.

KMHA’s goalie program focuses on the grassroots and foundation of the position to ensure goalies understand the basics and build off of the important foundation. Starting at Novice, goalies work on footwork and balance. As they progress through the older ages other elements are added to their repertoire including hand position and movement, slides, post integration, and puck handling, with a constant reminder of tracking the puck.

The game of hockey has evolved and changed, with the biggest change being skill development and speed of the players at all positions. Gone are the days of the big lumbering defenseman or weakest skater playing goal. Today’s game allows players of all sizes the opportunity to shine. The benefit of the power skating and goalie development within KMHA ensures players coming through our system will receive the skill development necessary to assist them in reaching their goals.

When asked about the skill development offered through the association, KMHA President Tom Graham had this to say: “Kitchener Minor Hockey is extremely proud of the work that has been done within our development system over the
past few years. We are now beginning to see the benefits that we’ve been able to achieve from both our power skating and our goalie training. Both of these programs have been outstanding.

As we grow our Association, the development program will always be at the forefront of our association ensuring that we’re providing all of our players the opportunity to gain the skills that are needed to be able to compete at a high level.”

Submitted by Dean DeSilva