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Tahoe Hockey Academy looks to ride momentum into Year 2

 

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If it’s late March, that means the majority of youth hockey teams have finished their seasons and have begun to set their sights to building for 2017-18.

Tahoe Hockey Academy (THA) is no different, and is well into its recruiting season and in search of its next high-level prospects.

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“We were able to successfully recruit a great class of players for our inaugural season,” said THA head coach Michael Lewis. “To be able to sign players who participated in USA Hockey’s National Player Development Camps and played at the Tier I and II level shows that there is an overall belief and trust in our development model.”

Looking back at the results from the program’s first year, it’s safe to say that THA’s approach to training and individual development has paid off for its student athletes.

“We’re a young team, but by creating instructional yet challenging environments for our players, we were able to successfully compete against teams much older than ours,” Lewis said.

As chronicled throughout the season, Tahoe Hockey Academy is California’s first residential boarding school dedicated to hockey. While it’s natural for there to be plenty of questions surrounding a new program of this magnitude, THA is making a name for itself both locally and nationally.

“We’ve participated in a rather aggressive schedule that put us in some high-profile showcases and tournaments throughout the U.S. and Canada,” THA president Leo Fenn said. “To be able to show well in the Bauer Invite, NAPHL Future Prospects and Western Prospects Hockey League opened a lot of eyes and doors for our program. Based on our overall play, we’ve secured an invitation to participate in the NAPHL Future Prospects Showcases for the upcoming 2017 season.”

With recruiting season now here, administrators at Tahoe Hockey Academy are emphasizing everything the school offers its student-athletes. Student life at THA resembles that of any typical high school, with some added athletic benefits.

“We practice up to two hours every day and can focus a lot of time on the individual player-development aspects of building better hockey players,” Lewis said. “We infuse that with yoga, strength training with an NCAA staff, rehabilitation services and proper nutrition to ensure our students get the best development possible.”

The competition for the next crop of top players is well underway.

“Similar to any club or prep program out there, you’re always looking for the top candidates, and our program is no different,” Lewis said. “That being said, we’re looking for players who want the challenge to train harder and more consistently in order to showcase their development to the next level of scouts and coaches. Those are the players who will get the most out of our program.”

Plans for the offseason are also taking shape.

“Currently, we’re developing our THA Future Prospects list of those players interested in finding out more information about attending the Tahoe Hockey Academy,” THA associate coach Chris Collins said. “We’re looking to build summer teams that will compete in some pretty high-profile showcases at the 16U and 18U divisions.”

A strong start and finish to the 2016-17 season can only mean good things are in store for those that call the Tahoe Hockey Academy home. The THA staff is eager to meet its next potential incoming class and get things in motion for the upcoming season.

“We’re constantly looking for and identifying those players who demonstrate the passion and desire to improve their games,” Fenn said. “Our goal is to scout and inform as many parents and players as we can about the benefits our program has to offer. We’re out there – whether in Escondido for the CAHA state playoffs, Globals in Las Vegas or USA Hockey Youth Nationals across the country – and we’re searching for the right individuals who embody the THA philosophy.”

Photo/Joe Naber

— Greg Ball