California Rubber

California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

New virtual program aims to provide Jr. Reign players with needed tools to improve game


As all Jr. Reign players now get full access to, the club has sweetened the opportunities with a new virtual training program exclusively for all association players via

In the past, the online element to the club consisted of calendars and schedules of games and practices for each team, but now, the new platform provides more in the way of training and hockey skills.

“We’ve documented a whole year’s worth of home workouts,” said Ben Frank, president of the Jr. Reign, also a USA Hockey Model Association. “This includes stickhandling work, shooting work, off-ice training, systems training. As part of the players’ weekly schedule, they get multiple-day workouts that is sent to them virtually as homework, so they do it on their own time. There is a leaderboard so they can compete with each other. Our coaches can also interact with them to see who’s completed the workouts and when. We already have the curriculum for our on-ice practices, and now we have a full year of virtual off-ice practices.”

The off-ice training will also focus on hockey IQ and hockey mindset training, in addition to systems, stickhandling and shooting.

“Our goal with mental toughness training is to help the athletes cultivate a growth mindset, which is critical to their success in sport and in life,” said Jr. Reign VP of athlete success and certified mental game coach Joyce Frank. “Through this platform, We have an engaged audience who is hungry to learn. There is no better time to sprinkle the seeds of personal development and wisdom about mindset, gratitude, grit, appreciation, habits and teach them how to take action daily.”

“I firmly believe that the Hockey IQ class is important for all players to become more knowledgeable and more inspired about the game of hockey to be able to transfer the knowledge into the mindset, which enables the absolute focus which creates the environment for endless creativity,” added Tomas Kapusta, Jr. Reign director of high performance and Hockey IQ class instructor.

“Each schedule is designed for the age group and players will get their assignments every week,” noted Paul Esdale, Jr. Reign chief of hockey operations. “We can track who’s watching the videos and who is completing the assignments. From a club perspective, we now have team-specific workouts and plans that they can go out and complete at their own convenience from home. Instead of the 3-4 hours of training a week our players were getting, now they can get 10-12 hours with the interaction of the coaches.”


As part of the platform, a smartphone app is also included, as are parent, player and coach portals.

Frank said that the virtual training is not replacing anything on-ice and is rather an extension of the on-ice, in-person training.

“As a club, when we get to on-ice, we will be really focused and get the absolute most out of the ice times we have,” said Frank. “We’ll be doing all the positional stuff, situational, stickhandling and shooting skills from home. In the past, coaches would tell the kids to put in the work at home and we never knew if they were or not, with no way to follow them. Now, we are giving them designed training sessions every week that we are holding them accountable to do. We can really make sure that we can do the stuff at team practices that we can only do on the ice. We want to make sure everything is done in a super-efficient way to get the players to supplement.

“This doesn’t replace the on-ice work. It supplements that and really accelerates their development over time.”

And with the 2020-21 season starting later than normal, Frank said there is a silver lining there.

“Our AAA and AA teams have been formed and we’ve been working with CAHA and USA Hockey on the start to the season, which will look different this year,” said Jr. Reign director of player development Darren Berezowski. “That’s what great about this. As we play local games to start, we can keep teaching them and have them ready to go when we start our games. We can now work with our players almost every day.

“Virtually, we can provide the players with a lot more guidance and a lot more development by coaching in a way that we could never do in-person. Being a model club with USA Hockey, we have access to a lot of great experts in hockey development, like in Sweden and Finland. What they do over there is at the older levels, they have kids come to the rink five days a week for two hours a day, doing their on-ice and off-ice. Their development programs are incredible. Typically here in the U.S. with costs and distance to the rinks and things like that, it’s challenging.

“Even if we had a six-days-a-week program here, I don’t think that everybody could come. The expenses would be through the roof. I always wondered how we could do that, and I think now, we are applying the ways where we can deliver that type of a program with the virtual component.”

Frank concluded saying the overall goal with the virtual program is to develop athletes at a much faster rate than what had been happening in the past.

— Matt Mackinder

(Jan. 25, 2021)

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