The Reebok Minnesota Hockey High Performance 14/15 program is set to begin its inaugural Fall Festival. The HP 14/15 Fall Festival will take place Friday, September 27th through Sunday, September 29th at Braemar Arena in Edina.
The Fall Festival will give the players an opportunity to test their skills against the top players in the state at their age level. A total of 17 teams will play a prescheduled set of three games against teams from other districts. To view the schedule or see who made your district’s team roster, visit the HP 14/15 program webpage.
The HP 14/15 Fall Festival is the conclusion of the HP 14/15 program which began earlier this summer with district tryouts for players that competed at the Peewee A/AA and Bantam A/AA levels during the 2012-13 season. Then, districts formed one or two teams for the training phase that began in early September.
“Each district has had these kids training for the past three and a half weeks,” said HP 14/15 Program Director, Pat Westrum. “We wanted to provide them with a better opportunity to learn and develop. This program does that by offering an increased focused on individual skill training, especially skating, puck skills and body contact.”
Most districts have met three to four times a week throughout September for dry land training and on-ice sessions. Dick Emahiser, Assistant Program Director, provided the districts with a series of drills that emphasized certain skills. Then, they were given the freedom to add components that would maximize their training sessions. Some districts even added classroom sessions where players were given access to the USA Hockey IntelliGym.
“You really couldn’t draw this program up any better from a long term development perspective,” said Rochester native and Regional ADM Manager for USA Hockey, Guy Gosselin. “The main focus is on skill development through local training sessions. Then, you give those players a chance to implement those skills in a game setting against high end competition, while maintaining an emphasis on development not immediate results.”
As Gosselin alludes to, the Fall Festival maintains the program’s development focus by hosting a series of speakers on Saturday. A group of experts will meet with players and parents to discuss the off-ice challenges they will face in the coming years and how to stay on a proper development path.
“We first conducted an education session like this during the HP 16/17 program this spring,” said Mike MacMillan, Director of the High Performance Programs. “It was such a success at that level we felt it was important to extend that opportunity to this group as well.”
The speaker series could be even more effective during the HP 14/15 Fall Festival because they will reach a much larger audience. That is another important goal of the HP 14/15 Program, as it looks to increase the number of players that are exposed to these development opportunities.
“We are hoping to expand the number of teams even further next year,” said Westrum. “Like Herb Brooks always said, ‘you have to start with a bigger pyramid base to produce more elite hockey players.’”
The Reebok Minnesota Hockey High Performance 14/15 Program is one component in a series of programs that constitute the Minnesota Hockey and USA Hockey Development Process. It is staffed by the top youth, high school, college and USA Hockey coaches. For more information on the Reebok Minnesota Hockey High Performance programs, click here.