Christmarie Salcedo

Christmarie Salcedo

Sylvan Lake hockey camp gives inner city youth some much needed practice

Two young American hockey players will have some stories to tell after spending a week at the Sylvan Lake Hockey Camp.

Two young American hockey players will have some stories to tell after spending a week at the Sylvan Lake Hockey Camp.

And they will put their improved skills to the test on the ice.

Christmarie Salcedo, 15, finally got the handle of stopping with her outside leg.

Keily Dominguez, 12, got some much needed practice on her c-cuts.

The two players are part of the Ice Hockey in Harlem program, in which four players attend a week-long hockey camp in Sylvan Lake.

The program has been running since 1991, when four young Harlem players from the same family came to Sylvan Lake for the hockey camp.

At the time, Duane and Brent Sutter, who were playing for the New York Islanders, were involved with the camp.

“One family with four boys thought it would be cool for their four boys to come to a hockey school where there were six Sutters,” said Graham Parsons, camp president and owner. “It was a New York thing at the time.”

Parsons said an airline sponsored the flights while the hockey camp covered the room and board and camp fees. The hockey camp continues to cover the expenses.

Parsons said the camp has invited four players — two boys and two girls — every year since.

“It’s very interesting to see the interaction between the kids,” said Parsons. “Kids always ask a lot of questions.”

Ice Hockey in Harlem offers inner-city youth and teenagers the hockey experience in outdoor rinks near Central Park in New York.

“It’s been a great program over the years,” said Parsons. “There’s been some interesting kids with interesting backgrounds.”

A few of the players have gone on to play college hockey.

Salcedo, who has played for six years, said it was fun to play in the indoor rinks and to see Canada.

“I tried other sports and I liked them but not as much as I did in hockey,” said Salcedo, a Grade 10 student in New York. “You can be rough on ice and there’s all the fighting. I like fighting for the puck.”

She and three other girls play on a team that is otherwise all boys.

She noticed she has more time with the puck in the camp.

“Over there they just hit you and take the puck away,” she said.

This was her first trip to Canada.

“I love it because it’s so calm here. There’s no fighting and you get a parking spot really quickly.”

Dominguez, who lives in Manhattan, has played hockey for five years.

Dominguez plays on an all-girls team that plays every weekend starting in late September. The Grade 7 student started playing after learning about the sport from her teachers, who were coaches. She followed in the footsteps of her brother, Wesley, 14, who is a goalie.

“It’s fun,” she said. “Also you get to meet different people and have other opportunities.”