The top 80 U16 hockey players in Alberta are gathered at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre this week for a summer development camp. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Top players looking to grow at U16 Hockey Alberta Summer Development Camp

The top 80 under-16 hockey players from across the province arrived in Red Deer Tuesday for a week of development and growth.

It is all part of Hockey Alberta’s development model, leading towards the WHL Cup this fall and eventually the World U17 Hockey Challenge.

This week in Red Deer, those players will participate in off-ice training, mental preparation, on-ice skill development and team bonding.

Each of those facets is key to the players’ long-term growth and also picking the ideal group of 20 for the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup.

“We really want to draw out the character piece from the players. As we’re putting a team together in October for the WHL Cup, we want to make sure we’re not taking the 2o most skilled players, like any team we’re trying to put together the best team,” said Michael Kraichy, Hockey Alberta Director of Hockey Operations.

“A big piece for our staff is getting to know the kids on a personal level and figure out what that chemistry could look like down the road. More importantly, beyond picking the team is developing the kids, giving them some tools for their toolbox as we moved forward.”

Rimbey’s Kaden Toussaint is the only local goalie at the camp, along with eight Central Alberta position players. Connor Claughton, Kaiden Ellertson, Nash Bamford, Ty Daneault, Nate Danielson, Nolan Larson, Tyler Mackenzie and Avery Trotter are all taking part. They were all big pieces of the successful 2018-19 Red Deer AAA Bantam Rebels.

On top of development for the players, Kraichy noted that for the coaching staff, it also serves as an important building block.

“We’ve got a lot of young coaches here. With our coach mentor Barry Medori who is working with them,” Kraichy said.

With the camp taking place at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre for the first time, it has also given Hockey Alberta the opportunity to streamline the activities with prospects and staff alike.

“Having it right here in our own building, the resources are right here… great facility,” Kraichy added.

Players are on the ice throughout the week and scrimmage each night, with a final game between the top two teams set for July 7 at 12:30 p.m.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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