Spencer and Evan Bell believe they are the next big names in the long litany of famous hockey families. Although just 11 and 13 years old, the brothers already have jerseys with an NHL logo on it, even if they are just for practice purposes. Perhaps, however, that their participation in the second annual LightningMADE Youth Hockey Holiday Camp is a sign of things to come.
The hockey world, after all, is no stranger to relatives in the rink. Just recently, the game has been graced with the presence of Eric and Jordan Staal, Rob and Scott Niedermayer, and Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The Ruutu, Kostitsyn, Miller and Koivu brothers have also shared the spotlight.
With hopes of one day joining good company, it seems as if the two youngest members of the Bell family are already halfway there.
“Spencer probably,” Evan said of his brother, who according to him, has the hardest slap shot in camp.
And the best skater?
“Evan. He’s fast and he controls the puck really well,” Spencer Bell said in return of the favor stemming from his younger sibling’s compliment.
Slap shots, skating, and some friendly sibling rivalry are a few of the many aspects that Lightning alums and former NHL players Brian Bradley and Doug Crossman incorporate into the LightningMADE Youth Hockey Holiday Camp. Both stress the importance of the basic fundamentals of the game such as passing, shooting, on-ice communication and teamwork, while emphasizing that the camp, albeit highly instructional, should be fun as well.
“We try to mix a little bit of everything,” Crossman said. “It’s important to combine a lot of the campers’ skills with some high-tempo instructional drills that focus on a lot of important techniques of the game. They’re having a lot of fun so far, though, which is a good sign on the first day of camp.”
Unlike other camps that the Lightning youth hockey players have participated in, the LightningMADE clinic is designed to help each individual hone in on a specific skill and improve particular aspects of each individual’s game. At the end of the day, those newly-learned skills are put to the test in a friendly, but competitive scrimmage.
“This is the best camp I’ve been to so far,” Trey Collier said, who has also attended hockey camps hosted by Jonny Murray, Greg Carter and Fred Eaton. “Because it was Brian Bradley’s, I knew it would be better. Some of the other camps are too serious and all you do is skate all day and don’t really learn any of the instruction or do drills. Brian Bradley lets everyone play and actually tries to help you get better.”
Added Bradley: “We try to do things differently. Things that are good for our camp and good for our program. Yeah, there are things that are instructional, but the truth is that these are kids and kids love to have fun. The key is to give back to the community, and I think we’re doing that with youth hockey. I believe that’s what the parents and the kids want.”
As the first day of the LightningMADE Youth Hockey Holiday Camp wrapped up, players skated to the bench to take off their NHL replica Lightning practice jerseys, including Spencer and Evan Bell. Before exiting the facility with their parents, however, the two boys walked into the equipment store inside the Brandon Ice Sports Forum and began flipping through the various team uniforms hanging on the clothes rack. One day, the Bell brothers might deserve another NHL jersey, this time with their names on the back.