San Jose hosts successful USA Hockey AAA Development Camp
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Traditionally, Labor Day Weekend is the jumping-off point for the upcoming hockey season and this year, Solar4America Ice in San Jose hosted a USA Hockey AAA Development Camp for select 14U and 15U youth teams.
Hockey season is indeed here.
At the 2002 birth year, the LA Jr. Kings, San Jose Jr. Sharks, Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Phoenix Jr. Coyotes took in the camp, while the 2003 contingent was made up of the Jr. Kings, Jr. Sharks, Jr. Ducks and the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain RoughRiders.
“It was a super great weekend here to kind of get teams going without the kids having to worry about the game results,” said Jr. Sharks operations manager Tyler Shaffar. “The bigger focus was on doing the right thing, practicing correctly and creating the atmosphere we want to create. One example was during practices where it’s one thing going against your own guys, but suddenly, you have a Jr. Shark going against a Jr. King and you’re battling, but you’re doing it in a competitive and a healthy manner that really shows the sportsmanship.
“The games were kind of a topper to everything, but overall, the coaches and kids learned new drills and to top it all off, CAHA was there for a AA jamboree, so now you have all these AA teams that now see what AAA has to offer and what steps are needed to play at that level. Just a great weekend from all perspectives.”
One official, American Development Model (ADM) technical director Ken Martel, said having the camp in California can only help grow the game, especially in a market where hockey is not only growing, but thriving.
“USA Hockey has run this type of American Development Model event with a number of Tier I programs out East and we wanted to create the same kind of development opportunity for players in the West,” said Martel (pictured left). “San Jose and Anaheim are USA Hockey Model Associations and the Kings are actively pursuing Model Association status, so it was a logical step for us to do the event in California.”
Martel also noted numerous positives coming out of the development camp.
“Our goal was for the teams and players to directly benefit from some early-season competition and training,” Martel said. “It’s a bit of a team camp environment where there are practice sessions involved with an opponent, so that increases the intensity level in practices. And then the short, single-period games provide the coaches an opportunity to see their kids in action without the pressure to win games that would affect rankings for the season.
“There were several important additional benefits that were highlighted by the parents and other coaches who were in the facility. First, we had one parent tell us that it was great to see the players on the ice practicing together. Sometimes, teams and parents reinforce a mentality that ‘opposing teams hate us and we hate them’ in order to increase competition. That was not the case in this development camp environment and, in fact, the parent said it was great to see the players compete, but also fist bump each other after good plays in practice.
“The respect for your opponents and fair-play aspect was a deliberate byproduct of the environment we created.”
The upward trend in growth of the game in the Golden State is also statistically sound.
In the past three seasons (2014-15 through 2016-17), only Minnesota has added more new youth hockey players (ages 18 and under) than California. Overall, California now ranks No. 9 among all U.S. states in total youth hockey players.
— Matt Mackinder
(Sept. 29, 2017)