NHL Coach sees great local talent

Saturday sees the return of youth
hockey in Cayman.

Kings Sports Centre will see all
the various age divisions in action for the spring session in the morning and

Most of the kids are eager to
improve on their play last season and use all the tricks a pro coach taught
them recently.

Last week Florida Panthers
assistant coach Jim Hulton held a roller hockey coaching clinic in Cayman. With
a break in the busy NHL schedule due to the Winter Olympics, Hulton chose to
spend some of his down time here.

Organized and funded by the CI
Youth Roller Hockey Club, the clinic was designed to provide local youth roller
hockey coaches with game strategies and techniques heading into the upcoming season.

For the record all of the youth
league coaches are volunteers, some with children in the league and others just
keen to help out. Most of them rely on memories of ice-hockey gained in colder
climates as youngsters.

The clinic ran over three days at
Kings Sports Centre and covered the fundamentals of the game.  Coach Hulton ran through a series of drills with
about 50 kids in the youth roller hockey program fortunate enough to participate. 

The opportunity was a boon not only
to the kids but the coaches who felt learning from an NHL coach was fantastic. 

One such volunteer coach and parent
is Nigel Windsor. 

“We were happy to see that our
coaching approach that has developed over the past few years with a lot of reading
and a bit of trial and error is very much in line with the current state of the
art for minor hockey coaching, which focuses on teaching individual skill
development over game results.”

Windsor, the club co-founder, also
noted that “learning new drills and techniques from a professional was a great
opportunity for our growing program.”

Another club founder and volunteer
coach in Dave Champoux echoed the thoughts of many of the coaches who participated
in the clinic.

“This has been a great opportunity
for volunteer coaches to learn from a world class instructor,” Champoux said. “We
are excited that the knowledge gained from the clinic will quickly be
incorporated into our practice drill routines to challenge the rapidly improving
hockey players throughout the program.”

Although hockey may not be the
first sport that comes to mind here in Cayman, Coach Hulton was quite impressed
with the local program.

“I am surprised by how well the
kids skate given that the roller program is relatively young here,” says Hulton.
“Skating is the foundation for success in hockey and the skills and passion I observed
over the three-day clinic was impressive.” 

Each child that completed the
clinic received a Florida Panthers gift pack which was a definite highlight to
the final day.  Coaches were each provided
with a folder from Hulton containing useful tips and strategies for improving
players’ skills.

Ultimately Hulton stressed the
importance of fun when it comes to kids in hockey.

“Often it’s the coaches and parents
that are more worried about winning or losing,” says Hulton. “Coaches keep that
in mind when making decisions during a game based on the score.”

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