Seven young goaltenders in the Rising Stars Camp at MTS Iceplex thought they were in for another day of learning with Andy Kollar and his team of instructors.
But this was no ordinary day.
Joining the netminders (all between the ages of eight and twelve) was none other than Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
“Obviously it’s one of those experiences where it’s nice to be able to give back and be on the ice with the kids, and see how excited they do get when they see you,” Hutchinson said following the one-hour session. “I tried to help them out as much as I could.”
The surprise had been in the works for a few days according to Kollar.
“To have Michael join our group, it was absolutely amazing…. It was amazing to see the kids’ faces,” said Kollar, the Manager of Goalie Development at the Ice Lab.
“I was trying to keep their attention, and as soon as Michael came on the ice they all kind of turned and looked and were putting the pieces together. You could see the looks on their faces. When he came in to talk, it was like they were in la-la land staring at him. It was really cool to see.”
The 26-year-old Hutchinson moved through each of the four stations to ensure he spent time with each goaltender. He applauded the work ethic each player had, adding he really didn’t have to say much before his advice was put into action.
“They’re a lot further along than I was at that age from a technical standpoint,” Hutchinson said. “It was nice to come out and have some chats with the kids, and find out where they’re from, how their summer is going, and try to give them a couple pointers here and there.”
Today’s session was the end of the five-day camp, which had a different theme each day.
“Day one was tracking, day two was recovery, day three was net play, day four was lateral movement, and today’s day was battle instincts,” said Kollar. “We have two ice sessions a day, one classroom, one dryland, and they get a lunch here as well. We’re trying to provide a full-day practice plan for these kids.
“I’m pretty sure the kids were sleeping good every night.”
Hutchinson gave advice on everything from angles and screens, to breakaways and odd-man rushes. But if there was a common subject on the ice, it was equipment.
“One of the goaltenders out there had my stick and had a couple questions,” said Hutchinson. “They’re always interested in the equipment that you wear, and why you wear things a certain way. So there was a lot of goalie gear based equipment chat out there.”
As the head instructor, Kollar is used to all that chatter.
“It’s funny, these young kids, they don’t know each other the first day,” he said. “The last day, we can’t get them to stop talking to each other.”
For more information on the Rising Stars Camp or the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Development Camps, head to mtsiceplex.ca.