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ANAHEIM JR. DUCKS Finland coaches visit, impressed with Jr. Ducks, Lady Ducks teams By Chris Bayee


t turns out the exchange rate with Finland is a positive one. The Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Lady Ducks played host to two regional coaches from the Finland International Hockey Association (FIHA) and Ken Martel, USA Hockey’s technical director for the American Development Model, on Oct. 28-30. USA Hockey and FIHA have engaged such coaching exchanges since 2014, Martel said. He reached out to Craig Johnson, the Jr. Ducks’ director of coaches, about the visit, which included longtime Finnish coaches Sami Nuutinen, a one-time Edmonton Oilers draft pick, Jukka Wallis, who has worked for FIHA for more than 20 years after getting a degree in coaching and working as a local hockey director. Martel and the Fins met with Jr. Ducks and Lady Ducks coaches, as well as Rick Hutchinson, the director of hockey for THE RINKS. They observed practices and provided feedback. “It was great having them here,” Johnson said. “Our coaches learned a lot.” The Finns have won gold at the World Junior Championship three times since 2014 and the World Championship twice since 2011. Not bad for a country with roughly the same amount of hockey players as Michigan. “They do true player development,” Martel said. “They’re so much more patient with their players. They’re one of the best hockey-playing countries in the world, and we share the same goal of growing the sport. The visit to Orange County was an eye-opener for the Finns, Martel said. “They noted some strengths because of the size of the club, and they saw some good players,” he said. The visit was designed to give the Finns an idea of how a larger U.S. club operates. “The Ducks are doing a really good job for the scale they have,” Martel said. “Rick Hutchinson does an unbelievable job with the in-house program. They were very impressed with the people leading each of the programs.”

Corona’s Hamacher making his point with NCAA D-I RIT By Chris Bayee


ake Hamacher has a message for those who questioned how far he’d go in hockey. “There’s a chip on my shoulder,” the Corona native said. “I feel like I have to prove people wrong. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I’m not good enough, not big enough (he’s 5-foot-8) or not fast enough. Every summer and every year, I keep pushing to try to prove those people wrong.” So far, so good. The former Wildcats and California Titans forward has become a key ingredient for the resurgent Rochester, N.Y.-based program that had points in seven of its first eight games. Not coincidentally, Hamacher has points in six of those games and was tied for the Tigers’ scoring lead one month into the NCAA season. He’s part of a junior class at RIT that has progressively improved, longtime coach Wayne Wilson said. “They all put in the work, and Jake was probably the leader of that pack,” Wilson said. “He worked really hard for his success. That’s fueled him. He’s hungry for more now, more of the spotlight.” Hamacher enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore, amassing the second-most goals (14) and third-most points (30) on a Tigers team that finished in the top third of the nation in goals. They were a goal away from playing for Atlantic Hockey’s NCAA tournament berth. His work ethic and skill are just the beginning, however. “His intelligence, or his hockey IQ, however you

want to term it – he’s a real intelligent player,” Wilson said. “He sees the whole ice. Some guys get stuck in their box, and they can only see 10 feet around themselves. He sees the big picture. “When we’re on the power play, we’ve noticed that he can see the other side of the ice really well.

Jake Hamacher has proven to be an offensive catalyst at the NCAA Division I level with RIT. PhotoRIT Athletics

It doesn’t have to be right in front of him. And he’s creative, he’s got a creative touch to him. But he’s got good skills.” And Hamacher’s hockey brain helps facilitate playing at a higher level. “I think his head makes up for maybe a lack of size,” Wilson added. “He’s not overly quick for some-

one of his size. He skates well but he’s not a burner like a lot of small guys in college are. He gets around with his head. He knows how to play.” If it sounds like Hamacher profiles as a coach’s son, that’s because he is a coach’s son. His father Brad, who grew up in Minnesota and played collegiately at Army West Point, is a longtime hockey coach, skill development specialist and advisor. “He was always the assistant coach, but because he was a defenseman, he always coached the ‘D,’” Jake said. “We had some separation, which was nice, but he was hard on me off the ice. He knew what it takes. He wanted me to play my best. “I’ve had a lot of great coaches. Eugene Kabanets when I was at the Wildcats, he was really influential in my development, my skill. Peter Torsson from the Titans, he really helped me with my mental game.” Hamacher didn’t default to ice hockey growing up. He played soccer and tried roller hockey only because a good friend, Tyler Haskell, invited him. Hamacher didn’t like it at first but stuck with it. When Haskell, who’s now a referee, jumped to ice hockey, Hamacher followed. That’s when the bug bit. Add it up, and Wilson and his staff likely have a player who will play an even bigger role during his final two NCAA seasons than he already has. “He’s got leadership material written all over him, so we’ll see what happens with that down the road,” said Wilson. “He’s got a good balance in his life of his hockey, his academics and his social life. He can be himself around the coaches. Some guys will get very quiet, but he interacts well with everyone. “We’re very, very lucky to have to him.”


Profile for Rubber Hockey Magazines

California Rubber Magazine - November 2019  

The November issue of California Rubber Magazine, featuring Tahoe Prep Academy on the cover, has hit the streets!

California Rubber Magazine - November 2019  

The November issue of California Rubber Magazine, featuring Tahoe Prep Academy on the cover, has hit the streets!