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The Tryout before Tryouts - hockey for all centre | hockey for all centre
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The Tryout before Tryouts

JHD Prep Camps give players the best chance to make their teams

The importance of a high-quality hockey camp to prepare players for their coming season isn’t lost on Jets Hockey Development (JHD) Head On-Ice Coaches Devin Himpe and Brett Wur. Both grew up outside of Winnipeg and wish they had access to the type of programming that JHD offers now.

Perhaps that’s why they’re so passionate about not only the skill development available through their JHD Prep Camps, but also about making their camps accessible to as many hockey players as they can by hosting camps at Gateway Community Centre and Selkirk Recreation Complex.

“Growing up in Selkirk, there weren’t a lot of options for hockey development camps in the town,” said Wur. “You would have to go to Winnipeg for that kind of camp. To be able to offer some skill instruction and help players move forward in their hockey careers from that area is special. And it’s not just kids from Selkirk who come – we get kids from Arborg, Riverton and other small towns where they normally don’t get the opportunity to have this kind of development.”

The same happens at Gateway, where players from the northern part of the city get an opportunity to interact with the JHD coaches, whereas they might not normally be able to make the trip to hockey for all centre.

Hockey players don’t just attend a skills camp simply because it’s close to them, though. There must be quality instruction that makes improvements in their game, and they have to enjoy it. JHD coaches are pros at making sure both happen for athletes in their camps by focusing on individual skills, but making sure players have the chance to apply those skills in game-like scenarios.

“When I was growing up, a lot of camps would be deemed a ‘power skating camp’ where all you’d do is skate for 60 minutes straight,” noted Himpe. “That’s good in that it gets your legs going and your lungs back in shape, but with our JHD programming, we try to get a puck on the athletes’ sticks as much as possible. We do power skating of course, but we don’t just skate for the whole session. We put players into game applications as quickly as we can so they get to work on the skills we’re teaching in a game situation.”

JHD’s Prep Camps at Gateway and Selkirk are similar in their goal of preparing players for their coming fall tryouts, but are structured slightly differently.

The camps at Gateway – running from Aug. 21 to 25 and Aug. 28 to Sept. – are for players ranging from U9 to U15 and each camp will feature two hour-long on-ice sessions per day. The first week will be a high-performance camp with the first session focused on power skating and puck skills and the second session putting those skills to the test in game situations. The second week will be more of a prep camp with focus on individual skills in both sessions.

Meanwhile, JHD will be running one week of sessions in Selkirk from Aug. 28 to 31 for U11 through U18 players including goalies. Those camps will include only one session per day, but like the Gateway programming, skating and puck skills and translating those skills to game situations will be the focus.

“Having sessions that focus on skating and puck skills is really valuable,” said Wur. “Skating fast is really important in the game today, but if you can’t handle the puck, it’s all for naught. Our programs build on themselves where the skating skills players learn is incorporated into the puck skills they learn. That correlation starts sinking in for players, and you can start to see them recognize that if they get to a certain spot on the ice, they have all these different options that they’ve learned through these camps.”

“This is a great opportunity for players to get back on the ice right before tryouts and get some exposure to some tempo again,” said Dave Cameron, Head On-Ice Instructor & Program Manager at JHD. “We’ve got a long list of players who are working in private sessions throughout the summer, but these are good camps for them to get back on the ice with other players and have competition again.”

Beyond just getting back to game pace, the camps provide young players a sort of “tryout before tryouts” giving athletes a place to finetune their skills without the fear of making a mistake, all the while building confidence for when it matters most.

“When kids get to camp, they don’t want to screw up. They’ll get maybe a few chances to show a skill, and if they don’t do well on one or two of them, then all of a sudden the pressure’s on and they might feel they didn’t get to display all the skill they have. When athletes work with JHD, they’re able to make a mistake, and that’s where we give them that confidence to make the mistakes and get better.”

Sign up now for JHD Prep Camps at Gateway Community Centre and Selkirk Recreation Complex by visiting