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Scrimmage Camp Wrap Up

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

By Travis White

The Ice Castle in Castle Shannon was invaded last week by a storm of hungry and eager young ice hockey players, for the Pittsburgh Penguins Scrimmage Camp and Girls Hockey School. The Scrimmage Camp, which implies much of its name for players ages 5 to 17 years old, focuses mainly around game situation-related drills along with (you guessed it): scrimmages. The Girls Hockey School, which is very much along the same line with girls ages 5-19, had a very positive showing as well at Ice Castle. Both camps took place the week of June 17th, with the Scrimmage Camp lasting all week until Friday, and the Girls Hockey School concluding on Wednesday night.

Two iconic names with the Pittsburgh Penguins were involved in the Scrimmage Camps: Phil Bourque and Brent Johnson. Bourque, two-time Stanley Cup Champion, participated in over 400 NHL games and enjoyed a professional career spanning over 17 seasons. He is a perennial favorite of Penguin fans, through his continuous presence via the Penguins Radio Network and involvement in the community.

Johnson, who has appeared in over 300 NHL games and holds an impressive career record of 140-112 and is currently retired, was also a favorite among the current generation of Penguin fans. The two former NHL-ers, along with the assistance of notable figures in the Pittsburgh youth hockey community Cliff Loya, Michael Chiasson, and USA Hockey ADM Manager, Michele Amidon, helped produce a great learning environment for the participants and helped them greatly improve over the course of the week.

As previously stated, the Scrimmage Camp employed many different game-scenario-drills, along with scrimmage situations throughout the camp. The camp would start with a short warm up skate, then move into grouping players by age and/or skill /experience. The players then would cycle throughout various stations with different drills, including scoring chances, passing cycles, and defensive scenarios and skating, utilizing many fun and varied activities.

One parent commented: “They loved all the different drills and the small games and, therefore, they never once got bored or tired.”

After an hour on the ice, followed by a 30-minute lunch break, the players returned to the ice and it was time for everyone’s favorite part of camp: scrimmages. The participants played a series of small area games: cross ice, out the corners, nets side-by-side; nets back-to-back, and more – all addressing different full ice game scenarios. Then they played ¾ ice games or full ice games depending on age.

Again, another comment: “I felt that the small games and the variety that were offered during the scrimmage element of the program taught my sons more about the game of hockey than the standard scrimmages that the camp used to incorporate. I stayed everyday to watch my sons play and I enjoyed watching every minute of the camp. I feel that both of my sons grew and improved as hockey players throughout the week.”

The Girls Hockey Camp was organized in a very similar fashion to the Scrimmage Camp, with skills instruction, small area games, scrimmaging, and goaltending instruction. Additionally, the girls also had off-ice conditioning as well.

And except for goaltending instruction, all of the head instructors, assistant instructors and on-ice helpers were females!

Smiles were seen from all around the rink, including one parent commenting, his daughter “really enjoyed the camp and loved all the coaches”.

Both camps were a complete success, with every child having a great time making new friends and increasing their ability to play, all at the same time.

The next Penguins Hockey Development event is Hockey in July, featuring the Mite Jamboree July 12 & 14 and Training Camp with Dan Bylsma, July 15-19.

The Jamboree is sold out. A few spots remain for Bantam/Midget age skaters (no goaltenders). Please contact Mark Shuttleworth at to confirm availability.

Both events will be held at CONSOL Energy Center.

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