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THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE GREATER TORONTO HOCKEY LEAGUE & ITS MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS

MAGAZINE

MAXIMIZE YOUR GAME WITH GARY ROBERTS’ NUTRITION TIPS

DROP THE PUCK GEARING UP FOR A FULL SLATE OF HOLIDAY TOURNAMENTS

SPOTT ON

A SIT-DOWN WITH GTHL ALUMNUS AND HEAD COACH OF CANADA’S WORLD JUNIOR TEAM, STEVE SPOTT

BACK-PAGE COLUMN BY ONE OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME, ROY MacGREGOR

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CONTENTS 6

STATE OF THE UNION LEAGUE PRESIDENT JOHN GARDNER WEIGHS IN ON THE MINOR HOCKEY ISSUES OF THE DAY.

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HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE WITH THE HOLIDAYS FAST APPROACHING, WE LIST SOME OF THE MUST-SEE

TOURNAMENTS. BY BLAKE DILLON

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HEADLINE-MAKERS WITH THE SEASON WELL UNDERWAY, A NUMBER OF INTERESTING GTHL ON-ICE

STORYLINES HAVE EMERGED. BY PETER KOURTIS

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NEWS AND NOTES BY MARK KEAST CHART-TOPPERS MANY OF THE OHL PLAYERS MAKING HEADLINES SO FAR THIS SEASON ARE

GTHL GRADUATES, A TESTAMENT TO THE GTHL’S “BEST-ON-BEST” PROGRAM. BY RYAN METIVIER

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EURO TRIP HOLIDAY TIME HAS TRADITIONALLY MEANT OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL HOCKEY YOUTH

TO PLAY IN TOURNAMENTS ACROSS THE GLOBE. BY BLAKE DILLON

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LIFE OF RIELLY CURRENT MOOSE JAW WARRIOR AND TORONTO MAPLE LEAF DRAFT PICK MORGAN RIELLY TALKS ABOUT HIS HOCKEY ROOTS. BY TERRY KOSHAN

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SPOTT ON BREAKOUT CHATS WITH STEVE SPOTT, GTHL GRAD, COACH AND GM OF THE KITCHENER

RANGERS, AND HEAD COACH OF CANADA’S WORLD JUNIOR TEAM IN THE UPCOMING TOURNAMENT IN RUSSIA. BY DUSTIN POLLACK

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JOURNEY TO THE TOP CANADA’S NATIONAL MEN’S DEAF HOCKEY TEAM GEARS UP FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. BY RYAN METIVIER

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PEAK PERFORMANCE FORMER NHLER GARY ROBERTS ON EATING RIGHT BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER A GAME.

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HALL OF FAME WEEKEND A LOOK BACK AT HOCKEY HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONIES, FEATURING THOSE

IN THE PLAYER CATEGORY – PAVEL BURE, MATS SUNDIN, JOE SAKIC AND GTHL GRAD ADAM OATES.

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SNAPSHOT COMPETITIVE LEAGUE ACTION, PLUS THE MARSHALL DREWNOWSKY MEMORIAL

TOURNAMENT FOR SELECT PLAYERS, HELD IN VAUGHAN. A COLLECTION OF IMAGES BY ERIN RILEY

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BEST IN CLASS IT’S SHOW TIME FOR SOME OF THE GTHL’S TOP MINOR MIDGET PLAYERS, IN THE ANNUAL

GAME SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 16 AT HERB CARNEGIE ARENA. BY DUSTIN POLLACK

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SHUT-DOWN IN THIS HOCKEY INSTRUCTION PIECE, COACH JONATHAN FINE TALKS ABOUT HOW TO EFFECTIVELY SHUT DOWN YOUR OPPONENT.

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SICK DAYS HAS THE NHL FINALLY RUN ITS COURSE WITH HOCKEY FANS? BY ROY MacGREGOR


GREATER TORONTO HOCKEY LEAGUE

265 RIMROCK ROAD, UNIT #4, TORONTO, ONTARIO, M3J 3C6 TEL: 416-636-6845 FAX: 416-636-2035 EMAIL: GENERALINFO@GTHLCANADA.CA WEBSITE: WWW.GTHLCANADA.COM

GREATER TORONTO HOCKEY LEAGUE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND EXECUTIVE OFFICERS PRESIDENT JOHN GARDNER 1ST VICE PRESIDENT KEN SMITH 2ND VICE PRESIDENT DON WEST 3RD VICE PRESIDENT JOHN NEVILLE TREASURER JOHN TRIMBLE CORPORATE SECRETARY MICHAEL PENMAN DIRECTORS BOB CRANSTON CHICK EVANS BOB FLETCHER (M.H.L. PRESIDENT) DAVID LEATHEM MIKE LEWICKI GORDON McDONALD GEOFF SHAW DUNCAN STAUTH BOB SVANEFELT (N.Y.H.L. PRESIDENT) WALLY TURNER

OFFICE STAFF

BREAKOUT MAGAZINE

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT OAKMAN MANAGER, ADMINISTRATION & FINANCE VANDA SLANEY MANAGER, HOCKEY OPERATIONS PETER KOURTIS MANAGER, MEMBERSHIP SERVICES & EVENTS JEFF STEWART COORDINATOR, REGISTRATION JOSH HAMILTON COORDINATOR, DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS & RISK MANAGEMENT MICHELLE FATA RECEPTIONIST PATTY CIDDIO COORDINATOR, LEAGUE SCHEDULE KEVIN HUCALUK COORDINATOR, OFFICIATING CHRIS WHITING COORDINATOR, HOCKEY ADMINISTRATION JENNIFER CRAWFORD COORDINATOR, ADMINISTRATION BRIAN KYLA-LASSILA COORDINATOR, MARKETING AND CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS DAVE LOWES

EDITOR MARK KEAST MKEAST4537@ROGERS.COM ART DIRECTOR/DESIGN JAN HARINGA PHOTOGRAPHY ERIN RILEY HOCKEY HALL OF FAME WRITING JOHN GARDNER, MARK KEAST, ROY MacGREGOR, DUSTIN POLLACK, GARY ROBERTS, JONATHAN FINE, RYAN METIVIER, BLAKE DILLON, PETER KOURTIS, TERRY KOSHAN TO ADVERTISE OR GET RATECARD INFORMATION CONTACT DAVE LOWES, GTHL, AT 416-636-6845 OR DLOWES@GTHLCANADA.COM ON THE COVER: THE NORTH YORK SELECT HOUSE LEAGUE TEAM AT LAST MONTH'S MARSHALL DREWNOWSKY MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT IN VAUGHAN


STATEOF THE UNION A MESSAGE TO PARENTS AND COACHES

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his message is not meant to offend the vast majority of people in minor hockey. In my opinion, 98 percent of the parents and coaches in minor hockey today are pretty decent people. However, in that “no two people are exactly alike” vein, there is that two percent that appear to be unhappy and critical of most things in life, including hockey. Criticism of referees is a popular sport for these people. Remember that referees, like parents, players and coaches are not perfect and occasionally are prone to the odd mistake. NHL referees who make up to $200,000 a season make errors as well. So let’s be reasonable in your judgement of minor hockey officials before you sound off with a lot of negative rhetoric. It helps when you keep reminding players of this fact. Also, unfortunately there are a few coaching staff members who forget that players are human beings and not commodities. If any coach refuses to discuss a problem being encountered by a player or parent, the matter should be brought to the attention of the club General Manager or President, hopefully for a satisfactory resolution. At the same time, coaches should remember that in situations when they are confronted by an unreasonable parent or player issue, they too should refer the matter to the club G.M. or President immediately. Sometimes delays in dealing with this line of communication leads to more frustration and the problem will only deteriorate further. Any party that is unreasonable in endeavouring to find a mutual resolution to a problem risks taking the fun out of the game for any player. Both parents and coaches must remember that in order for players to have fun and be able to gain the advantages and challenges the game of hockey offers, they should always put their son’s or daughter’s participation in a positive light. Now let’s briefly deal with the issue of player releases. Only in cases where a player is subjected to verbal abuse or serious demeaning issues should there be a necessity of requesting a release. The GTHL is the only hockey league in Canada that provides players of all ages with free agency at the conclusion of each hockey season. 6

Once a player and parent commits to signing with a team, they are making a commitment to stay with that organization for the entire season. Requesting a release for what might be considered frivolous reasons is not recommended. Parents must realize that commitments are not made to be broken and trying to break that commitment is not teaching their hockey son or daughter about similar challenges as they get older. Remember as well that when a player signs a player’s registration form, he is signing with the club, not the coach. So if a coach has to leave a team because his job takes him out of the local area, this is not a justifiable reason to ask for a release. Of importance are the benefits that come from playing hockey. In addition to the game on the ice, there are the benefits of physical fitness, good health and comradeship, just to mention a few. Enough said! Any players who are experiencing difficulties should feel free to contact the GTHL. After all, this game is theirs and they should be our No. 1 priority. My next editorial in Breakout will deal with the confusing world of scouts and agents. Until then, enjoy the game to its fullest.

John Gardner President president@gthlcanada.com


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HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT

GUIDE THE INTERNATIONAL SILVER STICK VAUGHAN REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

DECEMBER 27–29 Location(s): Sports Village (Vaughan, Ontario) Age Bracket: Minor Atom through to Midget 'A' Description: Silver Stick is a 54-year-old event, made up of 19 American regional tournaments, 26 Canadian regional tournaments, and 13 championships. Did You Know? Over 300 players who once played in the Silver Stick tournament have gone on to play in the NHL.

FIVE TOURNEYS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS BY BLAKE DILLON THE TORONTO MARLBOROS INTERNATIONAL HOLIDAY CLASSIC DECEMBER 26–30 Location(s): Canlan Ice Sports Arenas (Etobicoke and York, Ontario), Chesswood Arenas (Downsview, Ontario), and Westwood Arena (Rexdale, Ontario) Age Bracket: Minor Bantam, Bantam, and Minor Midget 'AAA' Description: An annual tournament for more than two straight decades, the Toronto Marlboros holiday tourney is one of the most successful tournaments of its kind. Notable Alumni: John Tavares, Jason Spezza, Rick Nash Did You Know? The tournament is often host to hundreds of scouts – some from the various junior ranks, and some from pro hockey.

THE BAUER CHALLENGE CUP DECEMBER 27–30 Location(s): The Hershey Centre (Mississauga, Ontario) Age Bracket: Peewee 'AAA' Description: Hosted by the GTHL, the 2012 Bauer Challenge Cup serves as an outlet for the continent's most skilled Peewee players to exhibit their craft. Notable Alumni: Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Brendan Shanahan Did You Know? Don Cherry of CBC’s Coach’s Corner often attends this tournament as a spectator.

THE PAUL COFFEY INTERNATIONAL HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT DECEMBER 27–30 Location(s): Westwood Arenas (Rexdale, Ontario) Age Bracket: Minor Atom to Midget 'AA' Description: GTHL alumnus Paul Coffey’s holiday tournament is a yearly event hosted by the Mississauga Jets of the GTHL. Did You Know? The tourney is celebrating its 27th year of play. 8

THE GARDNER CUP SHOWCASE DECEMBER 27–30 Location(s): Ted Reeve Arena (Scarborough, Ontario), Scarborough Gardens (Scarborough, Ontario) Age Bracket: Juvenile 'AAA' Description: Typically, the top eight GTHL teams showcase their worth against a handful of skilled teams from across North America. Did You Know? The tournament usually takes place over the American Thanksgiving Weekend, but was bumped to the holiday period this year.

FIVE OTHER HOLIDAY TOURNAMENTS WORTH CHECKING OUT THE STREETSVILLE HOCKEY LEAGUE CHRISTMAS CLASSIC DECEMBER 26–28 Age Bracket: Minor Novice to Midget House League

THE CANADIENS CUP DECEMBER 26–30 Age Bracket: Minor Atom & Minor Peewee 'AAA'

THE NORTH TORONTO CHRISTMAS SELECT TOURNAMENT DECEMBER 26–31 Age Bracket: Tyke to Midget, Select, MD, AE, Inter-City

THE FAUSTINA CARL GORDANEER MEMORIAL CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT DECEMBER 26–31 Age Bracket: Tyke to Minor Midget Select

WILLIAMS REYNOLDS X-MAS TOURNAMENT Hosted by Parkdale Hockey Association DECEMBER 1-3 Age Bracket: Novice and Atom House League


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HEADLINE MAKERS AS THE SEASON PUSHES INTO DECEMBER, A NUMBER OF INTERESTING STORYLINES ARE STARTING TO EMERGE BY PETER T. KOURTIS

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s the GTHL heads into December there are some great story lines playing out in almost every division. Here are just a few: • In the Under 21 “AAA” division it looks like a dynasty is in the making as the Humberview Huskies are perfect so far this year. They are looking to follow up last year’s GTHL regular season, play-off and OHF Championship. The Huskies are averaging close to nine goals a game on offence and it looks like just a few of the teams in this group can knock them off. The big question will be how will this team stay sharp without a competitive field this year? • The West Hill Golden Hawks have followed up last year’s regular season and playoff championships in Minor Atom “AA” with a strong start to their Atom “AA” season. The team’s record of 13-1-1 is slightly overshadowed by the Mississauga Braves, who lost to the Golden Hawks last year in the GTHL championships. The Braves are 14-0-0 and have only allowed three goals in those games. Could a repeat of the Minor Atom “AA” GTHL final play out in the Atom “AA” this year? 10

• The Bantam “A” East once again sees the Ted Reeve Thunder in contention for a regular season championship. This year they may be looking to book a ticket once again to the championship final. However last year’s playoff champion Vaughan Panthers had a major makeover and this team is involved in a four-team race in the West. Will the Panthers gel in time to push for first place? • The 2012 Minor Bantam “AA” champion North York Knights can’t look too far ahead this year as the Toronto Aeros lead the East. While both teams have a razor thin margin to deal with when it comes to winning the East they can take solace in the fact that another great race is taking place in the West, where last year’s champions, the Mississauga Jets, are in another great race with the Ice Warriors. Will the East and West races come down to the final week of the season? • The GTHL was left with just six teams that have perfect records. The challenge for these teams will be to stay perfect when you know the entire league is gunning for you. They are the Minor Atom “A” Vaughan Rangers, Atom “AA” Mississauga Braves, Atom “AAA” Jr. Canadiens, Minor Peewee “A” West Mall Lightning, Minor Midget “AA” Hillcrest Canadiens and Under 21 “AAA” Humberview Huskies.

Peter T. Kourtis is the Manager of Hockey Operations for the GTHL and is an active Level IV Hockey Official who covers the GTHL, OHL and AHL for Rogers TV.


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NEWS&NOTES

BY GTHL STAFF

VAUGHAN OUTREACH PROGRAM Everyone knows that the growth of the game in our community will in large part come down to making the game affordable for more people while also reaching out to new Canadians. The people behind the City of Vaughan Hockey Association are speaking with their actions. Last September, they organized an event called “4 on 4 at the Mosque”, a ball hockey event promoting minor hockey, held at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mosque. “We got strong numbers,” said Barry Harte, president of the City of Vaughan Hockey Association. Harte is confident some future ice hockey players may have come out of the event. “I would like to think that a few may take it up,” he said. And that’s the point, of course. It’s a matter of education, for people who come from parts of the world where hockey isn’t the primary sport. Two ball hockey courts were set up in the parking lot of the mosque. The association’s fund covered the cost of the 200 t-shirts handed out, and food. “We were so well received and the community there was very helpful in assisting with the event,” Harte said. Special guests included Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and Vaughan native Andrew Cogliano, who plays for the Anaheim Ducks. The GTHL set up a hockey shooting apparatus for the kids.

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KRAFT LAUNCHES NEW HOCKEY PROGRAM With the ongoing NHL lockout, Kraft Canada cancelled its 2013 Kraft Hockeyville program, but announced a new program called Kraft Hockey Goes On. The program will award $1 million to Hockey Canada affiliated minor hockey associations across the country. The idea is to celebrate volunteerism in the game, and to recognize the people who are really the backbone of hockey. Through the program, Kraft Hockey Goes On will recognize the top five volunteers and award his or her local hockey association with $100,000. The program will also recognize an additional 20 volunteers and award his or her local hockey association with $20,000, as well as provide $100,000 to Hockey Canada to distribute to Learn to Skate programs at local levels. In January, communities can nominate local volunteers from January 21 to March 8. A panel will choose the top 100 individuals. Canadians can vote for their local hockey volunteer starting March 23. The top five communities will be announced March 30. Communities can now go to www.facebook.com/KraftHockeyGoesOn to find out how to get involved.

LEARN THE GAME On the House League front, “Learn to Play” programs are an inexpensive way to introduce kids to the game, as Michael Wren, president of the North York Knights of Columbus, is finding out. The league presently has over 300 kids across three arenas on the ice, every Saturday morning, for 23 weeks. Costs are low – around $300 for the year. Kids are on the ice for an hour at a time, go through skating drills, and usually scrimmage near the end. “The idea is to eventually feed the house league,” Wren said. That’s what it’s all about – getting into the trenches, further building the game, one kid at a time.

GTHL EVENTS TEAM The GTHL plans to have a greater presence in the rinks with the launch of the events team program. The team will be present at various tournaments, GTHL special events, and league games at busy arenas, interacting with people. It also allows the GTHL’s sponsors and partners another way to engage with members of the league. The team will also be at community events that are not hockey related, allowing the league to reach new audiences and attract new participants to the game. The events team vehicle was supplied by Addison GM as part of the ongoing partnership with the GTHL.

HOCKEY ASSIST Also, on the Addison front, the GTHL has created a program with Addison called Addison Hockey Assist. If an individual buys a vehicle from one of their dealerships, Addison will give that individual’s hockey association $400 towards registration costs. Go to www.addisonhockeyassist.com for more information. 13


CHART

THE SUCCESS OF GTHL GRADS SO FAR THIS YEAR IN THE OHL IS A TESTAMENT TO THE GTHL’S “BEST-ON-BEST” PROGRAM BY RYAN MÉTIVIER IMAGES COURTESY CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE

TOPPERS MAX DOMI

CONNOR McDAVID

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he path to a professional hockey career is different for everyone, but some of junior hockey’s brightest stars all seem to have one thing in common. Take a look down the OHL’s league leaders and you’ll find countless players who have graduated from GTHL programs. Actually, no matter the position, you will find GTHL grads who have already had their names called in NHL drafts, players who are still fine-tuning their games to make that next step. Others are in the “phenom” category, like 15-year-old Connor McDavid, who has already taken the league by storm as the OHL’s youngest member. 14

It was less than a year ago that McDavid was dazzling GTHL fans with his talents as a member of the Toronto Marlboros. After being granted “Exceptional Player” status by the OHL (only the third player ever), McDavid was drafted first overall by the Erie Otters, one year early in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection. McDavid has made an immediate impact for the Otters, and his 12 points during the month of October gained him OHL Rookie of the Month honours. The 12 points were actually only a part of a 16-game point streak which included a goal and assist in only his second OHL game. McDavid was also named to Team OHL as part of the Subway Super Series, which puts his name in the running for a spot on the World Junior team as well. GTHL executive director Scott Oakman believes the league’s “best-on-best” environment has a lot to do with the success GTHL grads have had at higher levels. “We are fortunate to have 12 AAA teams in a relatively small geographic area and they play 33 league games, plus playoffs and tournaments, and this type of regular competition expedites their development,” he said. “That, combined with the off-ice training opportunities that exist in the GTA, provides a terrific opportunity for elite players to develop.”  Nearly half of the OHL’s top 20 scorers were from the GTHL, including Ryan Strome, Max Domi, Scott Kosmachuk, Riley Brace, Antony Camara and Ottawa 67’s teammates Sean Monahan and Tyler Graovac.


“My advice would be to enjoy every day of it (the GTHL)... It’s a lot different once you get to the OHL because it’s a business now. It’s a lot of fun too, but people carry themselves differently off the ice. A lot of these guys are just a step or a couple steps away from being pro hockey players now. So enjoy the time with your friends and teammates and work hard every day to try and improve yourself.” – Spencer Martin, a Toronto Junior Canadiens graduate

TYLER GRAOVAC

SPENCER MARTIN

Graovac, a seventh round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2011, chose to play his minor hockey in the GTHL because he felt it was the best place to put him in a position to get drafted to the OHL. “Being drafted by Minnesota was a huge success for me and a huge accomplishment,” he said. “Having my name called on draft day was one of the greatest moments of my life.” Graovac fondly remembers his time in the GTHL with the Mississauga Reps and gives some advice to young GTHL players. “I would tell them to just keep working hard,” he said. “The main thing that my dad told me going into the OHL draft was to take every game like you never know who’s watching.” Defensively, players like Matt Petgrave, Frank Corrado, Matt Finn, Darnell Nurse, Jordan Subban and Adam Pelech all got their start in the GTHL and are also excelling at the next level. For Mississauga Steelheads’ goaltender Spencer Martin, a Toronto Junior Canadiens graduate who’s now in his second year in the OHL, he’s looking forward to potentially having his name called in the upcoming NHL draft. Martin, as well as fellow netminders Jordan Binnington, Malcolm Subban and JP Anderson, are all representing the GTHL well this year. Martin enjoyed playing on a competitive Canadiens team that he felt prepared him for the OHL. “My advice would be to enjoy every day of it (the GTHL),” he said. “It’s a lot different once you get to the OHL because it’s a business now. It’s a lot of fun too, but people carry themselves differently off the ice. A lot of these guys are just a step or a couple steps away from being pro hockey players now. So enjoy the time with your friends and teammates and work hard every day to try and improve yourself.”

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EURO

TRIP

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EVERY HOLIDAY SEASON, GTHL TEAMS MAKE THE TREK OVERSEAS BY BLAKE DILLON PHOTOS BY JOHN GARDNER 2

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he holiday season is a time where wishes come true. Some kids get a new bike, some kids get new video games, and, if they play in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), some kids even get to travel the world. It’s not just any camera-around-the-neck type of travelling, though. These particular players get to play competitive hockey at unique destinations across Europe. This year, though, only one GTHL team, a major bantam club based out of Markham, Ontario, is scheduled to head overseas for a holiday tournament. The team is headed to Prague, Czech Republic. “Because it’s fairly expensive, it’s hard to predict what participation will be like on a year-to-year basis,” said John Gardner, President of the GTHL and travelling companion of the lucky teams who do end up heading to Europe. “It varies. It can be really high one year, and drop right off the next.” The latter is the case this year. But it’s for this reason that the league often veers to registering in tournaments held in places like Germany or Switzerland, where the European feel and history is still rich, but the airfare is more affordable and the flights aren’t too painful in terms of length – it really helps on-the-fence parents in their decision to commit to or not. Those very moms and dads, though, need to understand that the money, the time‚ and the effort that goes into organizing one of the trips is so “worth it,” as Gardner urges. He goes as far as to describe the involvement and support of parents as “critical.” 16


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6 1. GTHL BANTAM PLAYERS IN MOSCOW. 2. GTHL WINS RUSSIAN ELITE BANTAM CHAMPIONSHIP IN MOSCOW. VLADISLAV TRETIAK PRESENTS THE TROPHY. 3. GTHL CHAMPIONS CELEBRATE A TOURNAMENT WIN IN MOSCOW. 4. A NORTH TORONTO PEEWEE AA TEAM IN A TOURNAMENT IN SWITZERLAND. 5. NORTH TORONTO PEEWEES RECEIVING THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY AT A SWISS TOURNAMENT. 6. OVER 5,000 SPECTATORS WATCH THE GTHL WIN THE RUSSIAN BANTAM ELITE CHAMPIONSHIP IN MOSCOW, IN 2007. 7. A MCDONALD’S EXPERIENCE IN MOSCOW.

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NHL EXPANDING TO EUROPE? THE PRESIDENT OF THE GTHL THINKS SO

And it is. Because a simple “yes” or “no” could mean the difference between capitalizing or missing out on an opportunity that they may never get again. “These trips are as much about education and culture as they are about the sport,” he says. “Hockey is just the vehicle for teaching. And for that, the parents are benefiting, too – and in more ways than one.” Gardner reminisced about old times in Helsinki, where the tradition of going overseas began. He mentioned players by name. He talked about attending parties held at the various Canadian embassies of the world. He gleamed of the stories and memories that he and the kids who have gone on these tourneys share. He only hopes that more kids will soon take it all in, too. “It’s an experience of a lifetime,” he says. “It’s something that they’ll never forget.”

John Gardner, President of the GTHL, says that, in a few years, the players in his league won’t be the only hockey players travelling to Europe for meaningful games. “I personally believe that it’s only a matter of time before the NHL expands to Europe,” he says. “If there’s a decent market out there, they’ll find it.” He could be on to something. Since 1938, the NHL has been sending teams over to the various parts of Europe for everything from tournaments to preseason games to regular season games to tours to full-on interleague playoffs. The most recent case was during the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, when four teams from the NHL – the Anaheim Ducks, the Buffalo Sabres, the Los Angeles Kings, and the New York Rangers – saw their opening night pucks drop on Euro ice. It was the fifth consecutive year that teams had opened there, hinting that the trend of hosting NHL games on overseas soil is only getting more consistent. Providing that a new collective bargaining agreement is in place in time, it’s almost certain that more games will be played there next year. And beyond that, who knows? Well, Gardner thinks he does. “It’s likely that they'll just establish a division out there and have them meet North American-based teams on special occasions,” he says. “I do see it happening, though – and sooner rather than later.” 17 11


LIFE OF

LEAF TOP DRAFT PICK MORGAN RIELLY IS USED TO THE LIMELIGHT BY TERRY KOSHAN

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hen Morgan Rielly one day patrols the blue line for the Maple Leafs – and the majority of hockey observers figure it’s just a matter of time – he won’t have forgotten his roots. The 2012 first-round pick by the Leafs knows there will a spotlight on him wherever he goes in Toronto, whether it’s on the ice or off. But it has been that way since Rielly started playing minor hockey in his hometown of Vancouver. “He has always been in the limelight when it comes to hockey,” Rielly’s mother, Shirley, said. “When he was six years old and he was scoring nine or 10 goals as a defenceman on his team, people would always make a fuss. And it has carried all the way through, when he was at Notre Dame (in Wilcox, Sask., for Grades 9 and 10), all of it. He always has taken it in stride and it has always been a part of who he is.” Rielly doesn’t have many comparables when he is carrying the puck up the ice for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. There are not many players his age who boast the same kind of smooth skating ability, and it’s that talent which has helped set him apart from the majority of his peers. His ability to read the play, usually one or two strides ahead of everyone else on the ice, and pass the puck already is at the National Hockey League level. 18

RIELLY And speaking of the NHL, Rielly has had it on his mind since around the time he first laced on skates. “I think I went through these stages when I was young where I would tell everyone I wanted to be a pro hockey player,” Rielly said. “In Grade 9, I told myself I wanted to do it, but did not know if I could. I played on the Hounds (at Notre Dame) and I was named captain and had a great year. In Grade 10, I knew if I did everything I could and keep training harder, it was certainly achievable.” Rielly was so good at the Leafs’ prospects camp in July in Etobicoke that he would have been given a long, hard look at training camp in September had it not been wiped out by the NHL lockout. But all the lockout has done is delay the inevitable. And the 18-year-old Rielly has no qualms thinking about the attention he is going to get from a Leafs Nation starved for any good news emanating from the Air Canada Centre. In fact, it already has started. “I don’t seek extra attention, but being drafted to Toronto, I might have to get used to it,” Rielly said. “I have a pretty good understanding of what people expect. There is a whole lot of pressure, but I think that helps me. I have always played better on a stage that has had a lot of pressure. I’m pretty comfortable.”


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SPOTTON STEVE SPOTT, FORMER GTHL PLAYER, AND CURRENT KITCHENER RANGERS COACH, PREPARES FOR HIS NEW ROLE AS HEAD COACH OF CANADA’S WORLD JUNIOR TEAM BY DUSTIN POLLACK IMAGES COURTESY CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE

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t’s the best birthday present Steve Spott says he has ever received. Last May, on the same day that the Kitchener Rangers head coach turned 44 years old, he got a phone call from Brad Pascall, Vice President of Hockey Operations for Canada’s national teams at Hockey Canada. Pascall had good news. After being shortlisted, and having gone through an extensive interview process, Spott had been named head coach of the under-20 Canadian national team and would be leading them into Ufa, Russia, for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships. “You’re just never prepared for that call,” Spott said. “You’re hoping to get it but when it actually comes through you go numb for a second. It was a really special day.” Along with feeling honoured, Spott also recognizes the tremendous amount of responsibility that comes along with coaching the country’s

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junior team. Canada hasn’t won gold since 2009 and last year’s tournament was the first time in more than a decade that the Canadians didn’t qualify for the gold medal game. They settled for bronze instead. Spott isn’t troubled by the pressure though. He feels his experience as an assistant coach for the world junior team in 2010 and as head coach for the national under-17 and under-18 teams have prepared him for the upcoming tournament. “One thing that Hockey Canada does is it prepares you for that expectation and pressure,” Spott said. “There are years of experience that go with becoming the head coach of the world junior team, but I don’t feel any more pressure than I did when I was coaching our under-18 team. It comes with the territory.” For Spott the opportunity to coach Canada is another accolade in what’s been a lifelong career in hockey both as a player and a coach.


“Now you have to find different ways to motivate them and I think that’s the biggest challenge, getting them to understand that they do have to earn opportunities and they do have to earn ice time. That’s the biggest challenge that we deal with today.” – STEVE SPOTT

It started in the rinks in and around North York, where Spott grew up playing in the Metro Toronto Hockey League, now known as the GTHL. He spent the majority of his minor hockey days with the Toronto Young Nationals, as well as playing stints with the Wexford Raiders and Toronto Marlboros. His calling wasn’t as a player though. After four years at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, Spott spent a combined two seasons in the AHL, ECHL, and played professionally in the Netherlands, before retiring as a player. He then returned home to Toronto, moved back in with his parents and began supply teaching at an elementary school in Scarborough. It was then that he was first introduced to coaching. “A gentleman by the name of Don Baenen was with the school board at the time and he had asked me if I had thought about coaching at all,” Spott said. “He hooked me up with a gentleman named Cam Brothers

and Cam was kind enough to bring me in as a young coach with the Nats.” Slowly he began building his resume behind the bench, eventually taking on his own MTHL team with the Markham Islanders before landing what he refers to as his first break at 26 years of age, coaching the men’s team at Seneca College. Spott led the Seneca Braves to an OCAA championship in 1995 and was the league’s coach of the year. “That was really the time where in the back of my head I started saying, ‘Hey, maybe I could make a career at this,’” he said. He has been climbing the coaching ladder ever since. In 1996, Peter DeBoer, who was then the head coach of the Plymouth Whalers, offered Spott an assistant coaching job. Although it only came with a $15,000 salary, Spott says accepting the opportunity was the best business decision he has ever made. 23


“One thing that Hockey Canada does is it prepares you for that expectation and pressure... There are years of experience that go with becoming the head coach of the world junior team, but I don’t feel any more pressure than I did when I was coaching our under-18 team. It comes with the territory.” – STEVE SPOTT

That first job as an assistant led to a 14-year career behind the bench in the OHL. He has spent the past five years as the head coach and general manager of the Kitchener Rangers. Looking back at who perhaps has influenced his coaching style most, Spott is quick to point out Randy Ward and Bill Guenter, both of whom coached him during his MTHL playing days with the Young Nats. Spott says he has tried to take aspects from their very different coaching styles and implement them into the way he leads behind the bench with the Rangers. “Randy was very much a players’ coach, [he was] involved in our lives both on and off the ice. Bill [was a] a taskmaster, very in your face and very hard on us,” Spott said. “I was around some elite teams during that time and I think both those coaches recognized the talent they had to work with and found different ways to motivate.” But the mentality of junior hockey players has changed over the years and that forces Spott to constantly be willing to adapt. “It’s the day-to-day maintenance of the players. I think that is where my teaching background comes into play,” he said. “You realize that kids today have a different outlook on life with regards to expectations and the biggest challenge we have now is the word ‘earned.’ It just doesn’t seem like these players come in willing to earn where they did 15 years ago and before that. “Now you have to find different ways to motivate them and I think that’s the biggest challenge, getting them to understand that they do have to earn opportunities and they do have to earn ice time. That’s the biggest challenge that we deal with today.” Coaching internationally brings on a whole different set of challenges as well. Not only does Spott have to handle the various personalities of his players, but in a short period of time he has to make sure his team of junior stars buys into the coaching staff ’s system and accept their roles within the lineup, because expectations will be high when Canada takes the ice in Russia for the 2013 world juniors. “Once you put that sweater on, or, as a coach, once you put that blazer on, you understand the expectation, and it’s to win gold,” he said. 24


JOURNEY

TOP

TO THE

CANADA’S MEN’S NATIONAL DEAF HOCKEY TEAM EMBARKS ON THEIR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUEST BY RYAN MÉTIVIER

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t’s been a long time since Canada’s men’s national deaf hockey team had a chance to compete for a gold medal. That could all change this March, in Vantaa, Finland. After a silver medal finish at the 1st World Deaf Hockey Championships in 2009 in Winnipeg, the team was forced to miss their next major national competition when the 17th Winter Deaflympics were cancelled in 2011 in Slovakia. “It’s a great honour to be picked and to represent your country for the second time,” said forward Matthew Sheffield who plays on the GTHL’s U-21 West Mall Lightning. “I think it’s awesome that there’s an organization (Canadian Deaf Ice Hockey Federation or CDIHF) that gets people that are deaf and hard of hearing together to play the sport they love.” Sheffield is one of the many young faces that will dress for Canada, a team with a lot of the same faces since Slovakia. “We are very, very young, and very fast,” said new head coach Don McKee. “We felt the reasons for taking a young team were, number one, we felt we would be better able to meet the challenge of the U.S. and Finnish teams, which are very skilled. The second was because of the big ice that we’re playing on over there, and the third was that this would better prepare these players for the 2015 Deaflympics scheduled for Russia.” Several veteran players will be returning, including captain Steve Devine, who is also the assistant coach with the University of Toronto Blues. “Steve is a very skilled hockey player and has been a leader for us,” said McKee. “He can play both forward and defence, can play every role and is an unbelievable leader for these young guys.”

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Roy Hysen, executive team director, is excited about the mix of new and returning players to the Team Canada roster. “We have an excellent chance to recapture the gold medal as our team is very young and has a great opportunity to blend with several of our veteran players,” he said. After two successful camps already behind them, Team Canada will next convene on March 24, at Maple Leaf Gardens, for three days, where they’ll focus on team building exercises, before they depart for Helsinki, Finland, for another three days of training prior to the start of the tournament. Without funding from Sport Canada, the Deaf Team is solely funded by the Canadian Deaf Sports Association (CDSA), CDIHF, and the players themselves. The CDIHF was formed by Hysen in 1983 and is a non-profit charitable organization intended to promote, administrate and operate a hockey team comprised chiefly of deaf and hard of hearing players to represent Canada at the competitive level in international hockey tournaments. Players must have hearing loss of 55db in their best ear and must remove any support systems during play to be at an equal playing level with all players. One of the key differences is most communication is done through interpreters provided by the CDSA, and rather than whistles to stop play, strobe lights are used. For more information on the team and to follow their “Journey to the Top” visit www.cdihf.deafhockey.com.


PREPARETO

PLAY FUEL UP WITH THE PROPER NUTRITION CHOICES BY GARY ROBERTS PHOTOS BY ERIN RILEY

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GARY ROBERTS, 21-YEAR NHL VETERAN AND STANLEY CUP WINNER. NOW RETIRED, GARY IS A LEADER IN HIGH PERFORMANCE TRAINING AND NUTRITION FOR PROFESSIONAL AND JUNIOR ATHLETES. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GARY ROBERTS HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTRE VISIT: WWW.FITNESSINSTITUTE.COM/GARY-ROBERTS-HPC/. 28

hat I have come to learn over the years – sometimes the hard way – is that success in sports is all about how you prepare to play. It’s skill, or conditioning, and eating right. It’s all those things combined with another key ingredient – commitment. There is no doubt that there will be challenges along the path to success, but if you build a strong foundation in how you prepare to play you will be able to forge ahead. I faced the greatest challenge in my career when I was 30 years old. I was a young man facing retirement because of injuries. My body wasn’t able to withstand the style of hockey I needed to play to be successful. I came to realize that if I ever wanted to play again I needed to make different lifestyle choices with respect to training and nutrition. With the help and support of many people I spent that year of retirement focusing on rehabilitation that included regeneration therapy, strength training, conditioning, and proper nutrition. I was very fortunate to come back to be part of the NHL for 13 more seasons. The high performance program that I now offer evolved out of my personal experiences. I am motivated to share what I have learned.


TRAIN, REFUEL, RECOVER... PERFORM That’s the Gary Roberts High Performance Training Program. Success in my program is built upon the foundation of each component, and specifically, how they tie together. The gains from training are directly influenced by how you refuel and recover. What is often overlooked is how critical proper nutrition is to achieving peak performance. Paying close attention to food choices before and after games will help you stay mentally and physically sharp for the next game. A good test for successful preparation is a tournament. Can you feel as sharp in the final game as you did in the first game? I can tell you that what you eat and drink will play a huge role. My suggestion for success – pack your own cooler. Fill it with plenty of good carbohydrates that provide long-lasting energy, lean proteins, fibre, healthy fats and lots of quality spring water and some coconut water to replenish lost electrolytes. On all of the Gary Roberts Training and Nutrition Programs, contact jdupont@fitnessinstitute.com. If you need help preparing your own tournament cooler, contact gary@berettafarms.com.

WHAT I PUT IN MY COOLER • Lots of quality spring water (a least one 500ml bottle per game and more to sip on between games) • Coconut water BREAKFAST • MUESLI – I combine rolled oats, seeds, nuts, unsweetened coconut, dates, raisins and ground flax seeds which I soak in coconut water or water for five minutes and then mix with berries, and half a sliced banana. You can also add a couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt if you wish. • Two slices of whole grain bread spread with unsweetened almond or pumpkin seed butter, honey and sliced banana. FOLLOWING EACH GAME • I have either a post game recovery shake or snack. For the shake, I combine berries, half a banana, 4 oz. water, 4 oz. coconut water, one scoop of naturally sweetened vanilla protein powder and a handful of baby spinach. For young players, I would recommend replacing the protein powder with a couple of tablespoons of vanilla yogurt. A portable blender, like The Magic Bullet, makes this very convenient. • For the snack, I have chocolate milk and a banana, or fruit and yogurt. PRE-GAME MEALS • Whole grain sandwiches with either lean nitrate-free meats (e.g., roast turkey, grilled chicken, lean roast beef), tuna or egg salad. I always include some vegetables, some greens and some healthy condiments like an avocado spread. Cut fresh vegetables with a dip, which is usually hummus or some other type of bean dip. • Grilled filet of salmon with quinoa and mixed vegetables. SNACKS BETWEEN GAMES • Healthy trail mix, which could include some or all of the following: almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, goji berries, dried cranberries and blueberries, unsweetened coconut, raw cacao nibs. • Apple with unsweetened almond or pumpkin seed butter. • Healthy granola bars or cookies made with raw oats, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, and healthy oils like coconut oil or sunflower oil.

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HONOURBOUND

THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME CELEBRATED THIS YEAR’S INDUCTIONS WITH A LAVISH CELEBRATION

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xcited hockey fans flocked to the Hockey Hall of Fame November 9–12 to pay tribute to this year’s Inductees.  The weekend’s festivities included the official launch of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s new 3D film, Stanley’s Game Seven, interactive Q&A fan forums, limited edition autographed giveaways, the annual Legends Classic and culminated with the Induction Gala Celebration.  

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1. TSN PRESIDENT STEWART JOHNSTON, THE LEGENDARY BOBBY ORR AND HOCKEY HALL OF FAME CHAIRMAN AND CEO BILL HAY UNVEIL HOCKEY'S FIRST 3D FILM, STANLEY’S GAME SEVEN 3D, NOW PLAYING IN THE TSN THEATRE AT THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME. PHOTO: STEVE POIRIER/HOCKEY HALL OF FAME. 2. THE CLASS OF 2012 – MATS SUNDIN, PAVEL BURE, ADAM OATES AND JOE SAKIC (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) – PROUDLY DISPLAY THEIR HONOURED MEMBERS BLAZERS IN A PRE-GAME CEREMONY AT THE HAGGAR HOCKEY HALL OF FAME LEGENDS CLASSIC AT THE AIR CANADA CENTRE. PHOTO: GRAIG ABEL/HOCKEY HALL OF FAME. 3. 2012 INDUCTEE AND GTHL GRAD ADAM OATES ADDRESSES THE CROWD AFTER BEING INDUCTED INTO THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME ON NOVEMBER 12. PHOTO: MATTHEW MANOR/HOCKEY HALL OF FAME. 4. ONE OF THE GREATEST HOCKEY STORYTELLERS IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME – AND BREAKOUT COLUMNIST – ROY MacGREGOR RECEIVES THE 2012 HOCKEY HALL OF FAME ELMER FERGUSON MEMORIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN HOCKEY JOURNALISM.  PHOTO: DAVE SANDFORD/HOCKEY HALL OF FAME. 5. A CAPACITY AUDIENCE IN THE HOCKEY HALL OF FAME’S ESSO GREAT HALL INTERACTED WITH THE CLASS OF 2012 IN THE PORTER AIRLINES FAN FORUM. PHOTO: STEVE POIRIER/HOCKEY HALL OF FAME. 30


SNAPSHOT

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COMPETITIVE LEAGUE ACTION, AND THE MARSHALL DREWNOWSKY MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT, FOR SELECT LEVEL HOUSE LEAGUE PLAYERS, HELD IN VAUGHAN PHOTOS BY ERIN RILEY


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SNAPSHOT

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BESTIN

IN THE UPCOMING SCOTIABANK TOP PROSPECTS GAME, THE GTHL’S TOP MINOR MIDGET PLAYERS HAVE A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOWCASE THEIR TALENTS IN FRONT OF JUNIOR SCOUTS BY DUSTIN POLLACK

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n January 16, 40 of the GTHL’s most talented minor midget players (15 year olds) will take the ice for the 4th annual Scotiabank Top Prospects Game at Herbert Carnegie Arena in North York. Scott Oakman, Executive Director of the GTHL, says the game is another chance for the GTHL’s best to showcase themselves in front of junior scouts. “Obviously being scouted throughout the season, tournaments and playoffs is very important as well as scouting through the OHL Cup,” Oakman said. “But much like the CHL prospects game, this certainly gives scouts an opportunity to see players play against the best in a format that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to [see].” Former NHL players Nick Kypreos, Wendel Clark, and Kris Draper along with former NHL general manager and head coach Doug MacLean will coach the two teams. Kypreos played 442 games over eight seasons in the NHL, including two years with the New York Rangers, a team he won the Stanley Cup with in 1994. He’ll coach alongside Clark, who played 14 years in the NHL, 12 of which were with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Draper and MacLean also bring plenty of NHL experience as the leaders of the opposing bench. Draper played over 1,000 NHL games and won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, while MacLean spent more than 17 years as a coach and general manager in the NHL and American Hockey League. Oakman believes getting former NHL players and coaches involved not only adds to the profile of the event, but it gives the players an opportunity to learn from those who’ve worked and played at the game’s highest level. “Those guys can lend some perspective to the players because they’ve been through it,” he said. “Having been drafted, scouted, and having competed in similar type games and knowing the pressure that can be put on the players, I think they have some unique insights having gone through similar situations themselves, and they’re able to communicate that and support the players.” Over the past three years several of the Prospect Game participants have gone on to impressive careers in the OHL – London Knights

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(TOP PHOTO) DON CHERRY, SAM BENNETT, LAST YEAR'S TEAM KYPREOS PLAYER OF THE GAME (TORONTO MARLBOROS), AND SCOTIABANK BRANCH MANAGER GERARD BERGIN. (BOTTOM PHOTO) DANTE SALITURO, LAST YEAR’S TEAM CLARK PLAYER OF THE GAME (DON MILLS FLYERS)

forward Max Domi, who had 49 points in 62 games in his rookie season last year, played in the second annual game in 2011; Guelph Storm forward Matt Finn, who was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 35th overall in 2012, played in the 2010 game; and just last season Connor McDavid, now a rookie with the Erie Otters, took part in the Prospects Game. Leading this year’s crop of OHL prospects are Marlies forwards Dylan Strome and Mitchell Stephens, Jr. Canadiens teammates Nikita Korostelev and Zach Wilkie, Mississauga Rebels defenseman Austin Clapham and Don Mills Flyers goaltender Jack Lafontaine. Oakman feels every player who participates in the event takes something different away from the experience, but if he had to point to one thing, he said, “I think in the end it allows [the players] to take stock in what their strengths and weaknesses might be when they’re on the ice with the best players in their age group.”


SHUTDOWN

THERE COMES A TIME IN A GAME WHEN ALL FOCUS SHOULD BE ON DEFENCE BY JONATHAN FINE

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key to winning a hockey game is understanding that the correct hockey play at any given moment is dictated by the situation of the moment – the score, the time left in the game, who is on the ice for each team, the importance of the game, and so forth. There comes a time in most games when the team with the lead doesn’t need another goal. In these situations, that team has to know how to change its style, to play what I call “shut‘em down hockey”.

The keys to “shut’em down hockey” are as follows: • YOU DON’T NEED ANOTHER GOAL: So your mental focus should be solely on defence and killing time. • ALWAYS PLAY THE DEFENSIVE SIDE (D-SIDE) OF THE PUCK: Don’t give the other team free passage towards your goal. You must position yourself between the puck and your goal. • STAY IN THE PLAY: Don’t do anything that can take you out of the play (for example, getting tied up with an opposing player or going too low in the offensive zone). • ALWAYS MOVE THE PUCK DOWN THE ICE (AWAY FROM YOUR GOAL): For example, in their zone, never pass back to your point (because it may get intercepted or get by your defenceman). Keep the puck deep in the other team’s zone. • DUMP THE PUCK IN QUICKLY: Too many times I see players that should be playing shut’em down hockey, trying to carry the puck into the other team’s zone, which increases the chance of a turnover and saves the other team valuable ice and time, which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to do.

• PLAY WITH URGENCY: Get the puck over the blue line quickly, whether it’s your blue line or theirs. The best way to trap the other team is by using a high 1-2-2 forechecking system, making it difficult for them to exit their zone with possession of the puck. Every player has a specific responsibility in the high 1-2-2: • The first forward’s (F1) job is to pressure the puck carrier to try and force an errant pass and to steer the play into the trap. • The other players form a high, box-shaped trap. • The trap must be a dynamic trap as opposed to a passive trap, meaning that the player closest to the puck makes an aggressive move on the puck with the objective of keeping the puck in, or forcing an errant pass. • If the puck gets by a player, he must race back towards the defensive zone to provide support to the trap. You want to make a series of aggressive moves on the puck all the way down the ice if necessary, all with a view of trying to force an errant pass, keeping the puck deep in the other team’s zone, keeping the puck out of your zone.

Jonathan Fine is the Head Coach of the North Toronto Midget Jr. "AA" team. This article is an adaptation of excerpts from his books Coaching Championship Hockey and Hockey is A Very Simple Games (s), Volumes I and II. Mr. Fine can be contacted at jfine@finedeo.com. 37


SICKDAYS S uch irony. The newest issue of The Hockey News landed in the mailbox a short while back and opened up immediately to a full-page advertisement for a cold medication, Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla on the ice in one photograph, in the next sleeping contentedly in bed. “In professional hockey,” the ad read, “there are no sick days... or nights.” Ha! As this dispiriting fall unfolded professional hockey – at least at the National Hockey League level – may never have been as sick. No matter if November saw a resolution or the lockout continues on into December, this has not been 2004-05. In that previous Lockout, Canadian fans were genuinely concerned with the issues, worried for their franchises and convinced that the argument for “cost certainty” made some sense. Forgiveness was swift when the game finally returned, as it was a re-invented game: faster, more skilled, more entertaining. Fast forward to 2012. Canadian franchises have never been healthier – including a brand-new one back in Winnipeg. The league, by its own bragging, has never been more prosperous. The players, in spite of the salary cap they accepted begrudgingly, have never been wealthier. And yet the two parties cannot seem to agree on anything, even when to meet. The widespread condemnation that this is a catfight between “billionaires and millionaires” is simplistic but deadly accurate. As one outside labour expert put it in the Globe and Mail, even kindergarten kids can figure out how to split a Popsicle before it melts and vanishes on them. The 2012 (perhaps -13) Lockout was profoundly different from the outset. There was no fan agonizing – who would waste their emotions, let alone their time, on such folly? – and there was a growing sense from the start that, this time, that a league that has now taken its fans for granted three times in less than 20 years had presumed too much. Did they not see the contempt we have for NHL owners who sign players to 13-year contracts one day and next day demand five-year limits on contracts? Only the foolish among us paid any attention to those players who fled to Europe – good union members all, bumping fellow players out of jobs they need far worse than the NHLers need to satisfy their egos and fill their time. And yet, in turning their backs on the NHL this fall, no matter how long this Lockout lasted, hockey fans were able to discover … hockey. And they are finding hockey almost everywhere they look for it in the land that gave the world this, the greatest game on earth.

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HAS THE NHL’S LOCKOUT TACTIC FINALLY RUN ITS COURSE WITH HOCKEY FANS? BY ROY MACGREGOR

Fans have discovered a hidden gem in college hockey, games superbly played by mostly former junior players at a price, $10-$12, that makes NHL season ticket holders wonder why their tickets did not come wrapped in a Rolex watch. Fans will turn to the World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia, on Boxing Day, will flock on Dec. 28 to watch the Bell Capital Cup in Ottawa, the “world’s largest hockey tournament” for players aged nine to 12 and to the legendary Quebec International tournament for pee wee teams that begins on Valentine’s Day. All winter long they will follow teams in the lead up to the Telus Cup (midget), RBC Cup (junior A), Allan Cup (senior) and dozens of provincial championships. The entire country will be watching when women’s teams from around the hockey world gather in Ottawa this coming spring for the World Championships. Closer to home, fans can take in the Scotiabank GTHL Top Prospects Game in January, where many of the best 15-year-old players in the world will show they are eligible for the Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection. Closer yet, they can head to the local rink any Saturday morning, as well as most weekday evenings, and see youngsters of both sexes playing their hearts out. Playing not for money, but for fun, for satisfaction, for the small glory that usually amounts to little more than a tap on the helmet from a coach and a Slushy at the snack counter. And closest of all, there are the back streets, the driveways and the backyards, where the national game is being re-invented every time the puck (or ball) is dropped. The game in our imaginations has never been healthier. It is the game played by those who lost their minds in the fall of 2012 that turned sick.


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