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Van Ryn Teaches The Basics

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
By Brian Goldman for

You can see it at the NHL Entry Draft.

Sam Gagner, who was just drafted 6th overall at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, grew up playing hockey in Coral Springs. Frank “Pacho” Grzeszczak, a Plantation native, now plays in the Ontario Hockey League with the Erie Otters.

You can see it at incredibleICE in Coral Springs.

The Florida JR Panthers’ U16 Tier II team won the Southeast District Championship proving once again that incredibleICE continues its growth of competitive youth hockey in the Southeast United States.

In all, five different JR Panthers squads won the Florida State Championships for their age bracket; U16 Tier II, ’92-’93 JR Panthers Bantam, ’95 JR Panthers Peewee Minors, 96 JR Panthers Squirt Majors, and Mite Majors.

South Florida is beginning to produce some good ice hockey players and part of the reason for this is the dedicated effort of the Florida Panthers and Cats defenseman Mike Van Ryn.

Beginning on Monday, July 9th, Van Ryn will host his third annual Florida Panthers Hockey Fundamentals Camp. This week-long camp intends to teach kids the basics of ice skating and hockey.

The instructors will teach kids how to skate and puck handle. At the end of each day, there are little competitions and mini games. There are off-ice activities as well.

“It’s all about having fun and making better hockey players,” Van Ryn said. “I remember what it was like when I attended these camps. I would definitely have loved this camp if I was a kid still.”

But there is so much more then that involved in the five days Van Ryn gets to spend with these kids. By the time the Fundamental Camp is over, the kids have found a new friend.

“I’m lucky that over the years some of these kids have become my best fans,” Van Ryn said. “I love seeing how they have improved over the winter because we always get kids coming back for a second or third year.”

For the second straight summer, Van Ryn had to undergo wrist surgery. According to him, it’s the only two times he has ever had surgery, but they both have had him in a cast come camp time. Even though Van Ryn is unable to hold a stick, he will still be out there on the ice explaining the fundamentals of hockey to his campers.

“The instructors the Panthers have out there with me are very knowledgable and they help me out a ton with the camp,” Van Ryn said. “This is the time of year when hockey players get repaired and have surgery. I think the kids understand that. I’ll still be out there on the ice with them.”

The effort Van Ryn is putting into teaching the youth of South Florida about the fundamentals of hockey is showing up more and more every day. No matter what Van Ryn does on the ice with the Panthers in the years to come, he will look back in 10 years and see all the players he taught going on to play college and pro hockey.

It is something the Panthers and Van Ryn are proud of and excited to see the results in the years to come.

“The game of hockey is growing here,” Van Ryn said. “I’m just doing my part to teach the game and help these kids have a lot of fun.”

For more information of Van Ryn’s Hockey Fundamental School or any of the other Panthers Summer Hockey Camps please call 954-341-9956.

The Rob Tallas Goalie School will run from July 16-20 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and is designed for goalies 7-17 years old looking to learn from a former NHL netminder. Rob and his team of pro instructors are looking for young goalies who desire to learn more about stance & recovery, net awareness, rebounds & angles, game situations, blocker techniques, and more.

The 2nd Annual NHL Development Camp will take place from July 23-27 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for players 13-18 years old. This exclusive camp is limited to 60 players, and is geared toward the advanced hockey player, focusing on intense drills and team scenarios. Assistant coach Pierre Groulx will lead an all-star staff of Panthers players, coaches and NHL alumni.

All schools run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m daily, and include three hours of on-ice and three hours of off-ice training each day. The Registration fees are $495 for the Fundamental Hockey School, $525 for the Rob Tallas Goalie School, and $495 for the NHL Development Camp. Participants at each school will receive a Florida Panthers hockey school jersey, while early registrations will receive a $50 discount to the Fundamental School or a $25 discount toward the Rob Tallas Goalie School.
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