The Reebok Minnesota Hockey High Performance 14/15 program concluded Sunday afternoon at Braemar Arena in Edina. Over 300 of the top 1999-2000 players in Minnesota gathered to test their skills after three weeks of intense training.
The HP 14/15 program gave the players a unique combination of training and competition that isn’t often seen outside of their local association. Each district held on-ice and dry land training sessions three to four times a week throughout September. The sessions put a major emphasis on skill development, especially skating, puck skills and body contact.
Then, the Fall Festival was held to reward the players for their hard work and give them the opportunity to test their skills against a high level of competition. A total of 17 teams played a prescheduled set of three games against teams from other districts. No brackets or standings were used to further emphasize the focus on development.
“This program did a great job of creating a low pressure situation for these kids,” said Bob Gernander, an NHL scout that was in attendance to watch a family member. “That’s great for this age group because it’s not so much about their performance right now as the final result ten years from now.”
Players also had the opportunity to listen to a group of experts during a Parent and Player Education Summit on what the future holds for them. The speakers further echoed Gernander’s point that this age group is really the starting point, not the finish line.
“It is healthy to get away from the rink,” said Guy Gosselin, Regional ADM Manager for USA Hockey. “Make sure you have gas left in the tank at 16-18.”
That will be an important message for each of the participants as they head back to their local association for the upcoming season. As the former Greenway High School Head Coach, Gernander put it, “Go home and work on your skills,” but remember, this is just the beginning of competitive hockey so don’t let yourself get burned out.
For more details, visit the HP 14/15 program page on the Minnesota Hockey website.