HAZELWOOD - As an attorney, Diane Metzger knows the importance of a solid defense. But when she leaves the office, it’s offense that suits her best.
As a native St. Louisan and lifelong Blues fan, Metzger decided to take up ice hockey four years ago. Now a center for the St. Louis Edge, a local women’s hockey team, Metzger doesn’t aspire to be a professional athlete on a full-time basis, but she does find it important to continue to hone her skills. When some of her teammates suggested participating in a four-day adult hockey skills camp, she signed up without hesitation.
“This is for fun, but we’re all competitive,” Metzger said. “It’s been a great four days. We did some great skating drills, teamwork drills and some scrimmaging. We had some time with some wonderful coaches so it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The camp, which wrapped up Wednesday, was run by Blues Video Coach Sean Ferrell and former Blues defenseman Jamie Rivers at the IceZone at St. Louis Outlet Mall. Both Ferrell and Rivers are also responsible for running Blues Youth Hockey Camps each summer.
More than 30 adult hockey players of various skill levels participated in the camp, which featured 90-minutes of ice time each day. Practices included multiple drills and a scrimmage afterwards.
In addition, Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock was on the ice each day as a guest instructor.
“Some of the stuff we’re doing out here, believe it or not, it does translate into the NHL game,” said Rivers, who played in two separate stints with the Blues (1995-99 and 2006-07). “When they see some of those things going on (in an NHL game), they’re going to identify that and relate to it.”
The camp was originally organized by Hitchcock’s wife, Corina Kelepouris, a retired professional golfer who recently began playing hockey. Kelepouris also plays with the Edge and several co-ed teams.
“I’m obsessed with trying to get better, and I was looking for hockey camps and hockey schools to go to,” Kelepouris said. “I’d been taking some lessons with Sean (Ferrell). Hitch said ‘why don’t you just see if Sean will do (a camp), that way you can stay in town.’ It just came together really quickly and there was a lot of interest. It was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done.”
Ferrell said the camp was based on fundamentals, such as skating, puck control and shooting.
“We left a lot of the X’s and O’s for Hitch to cover. It’s his area of expertise and when he talks, people listen,” Ferrell said. “It’s a real good experience for them to get a little bit of everything.”
Both Ferrell and Rivers work with XHockeyProducts, a company owned by former Blues defenseman Bryce Salvador. XHockeyProducts provides equipment and tools for youth and professional hockey players in addition to putting on several hockey camps throughout the year. Regarding the adult hockey skills camp at the IceZone, Ferrell said he was constantly amazed at the participants’ commitment to improve.
“I don’t think it matters what age the students are at one of our camps, but when you’re running an adult camp, they enjoy it and there’s passion for it. The sport at this age level is growing by leaps and bounds in St. Louis.”
Added Metzger: “Sean and Jamie were great. They were a ton of fun and they worked us hard, but they broke down the skills and gave us the opportunity to improve our individual play. And there’s nobody in the game like Ken (Hitchcock), so it’s a wonderful opportunity. I couldn’t have asked to be taught by better coaches.
“You wouldn’t think that when you wake up and go to work that when you get off work, you’re going to get on the ice with people of this caliber, so that’s great.”