Players dressed in orange, black, white and grey took the ice at the Flyers Skate Zone this past week, but these athletes were not the facility’s usual inhabitants.
Instead, the rink served as a base for the Philadelphia Amateur Hockey Combine, which allowed select 14, 15 and 16-year-olds the opportunity to train and learn from former NHL players.
“This is the second year of the Philadelphia Amateur Hockey Combine,” explained Camp Director and 10-year NHL veteran Todd Fedoruk. “It’s kids with the birth years between 1998 and 2000.
“We want to provide a platform, and a testing format, that allows the kids to kind of gauge themselves as an athlete geared towards hockey.”
This year current Flyers Assistant Coach Ian Laperrière and former Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher all served as combine instructors, aiming to assist the young participants in any way possible.
With both on and off-ice workouts over the course of three days, the combine took on a more serious nature, helping those who are committed to becoming the best players possible.
“It’s like any thing else,” Laperrière said. “If you want to get better at something, you need to practice. That’s what we’re trying to put in the kids’ heads. If you want to get better you have you do the work, and the work sometimes is not fun.
“You have to be willing to do something that other kids won't do,” he added. “Kids are so good today that that little thing is going to make a huge difference.”
Each morning began with combine testing with the training staff, which was followed by an on-ice practice with the instructors and a post-practice review. After lunch, the athletes attended a lecture and concluded each day with games to allow for a more competitive attitude.
“It’s as competitive as the players make it, but we’re here to really help develop their skill set,” Fedoruk said. “There’s a lot of knowledge there among the coaching staff, and we can pass that down to the kids at a young age.”
Dominic Guido, a combine participant, understands the importance of this experience and is preparing to use the knowledge he has gained to further advance his personal play. Having professional coaches help him throughout the combine has also been an added bonus for the young player, which he knows will also help him in the future.
“It’s really cool because a lot of kids don’t get to really experience having professional coaches teaching you a lot of stuff that can help you during the games,” said Guido. “It’s really cool that we get to have professionals teaching us what they know.
“Throughout your life you use the basics, stuff you learned from when you first started skating, and that's really what they’re still teaching us. They’re teaching basics, but they just keep adding on so it makes you better and better.”
While the Philadelphia Amateur Hockey Combine has a major impact on the lives of these young players, it also allows the instructors to give back to the community and help the next generation of hockey players pursue their dreams.
“I think passing on what was taught to me and what I used in my professional career,” Fedoruk explained as his favorite aspect of being involved with the combine.
“That’s really what it’s all about – to help the kids that really want to chase their dreams of playing in the NHL or giving them the opportunity to open doors and areas of life through hockey.”