Three Wild prospects, defenseman Louie Belpedio and forwards Alex Tuch and Jordan Greenway, were recently named to the roster for USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp, taking place in Lake Placid, N.Y. from Aug. 1-8.
On the heels of completing Wild Development Camp at Xcel Energy Center last week, this opportunity allows the Wild prospects an immediate chance to display what they learned during their week together in the State of Hockey.
Brad Bombardir, the Wild’s Director of Player Development, knows a critical trait he expects to see in these players – no matter where they are training or playing – is a dedicated, professional work ethic.
“[There is a level] of honesty in the work that has to be done to give yourself an opportunity to play at the next level,” said Bombardir. “There’s a whole other level of work ethic that has to be done if you want to play in the National Hockey League and we tried to instill that in them.”
Over the course of Development Camp attention was focused on different areas that require extra effort to make the jump, including proper nutrition, enhanced power skating, and a diversified approach to strength training that must incorporate on-ice body movements and burst.
Kirk Olson, Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Wild, spent Development Camp leading the young men through specific off-ice warm-ups and exercises. Olson’s philosophy stresses explosiveness and quickness in training the body to be more efficient and more athletic, while only adding muscle and weight that makes sense to a player’s overall game.
“I’m never going to add size to a player with the result being them slowing down because hockey is a sport based on two-second bursts, followed by stops, starts and turns,” said Olson. “The ‘big’ that they can carry successfully while maintaining their speed, maintaining their quickness, maintaining their explosiveness – that’s of utmost importance to me.”
Olson recognizes most players at Development Camp have already learned to lift weights and do appropriate conditioning as part of their offseason regimen. Yet in addition to that work, he believes the players who put in extra time and effort with high-intensity interval training like jump training and ground-based plyometrics (both of which were incorporated into Development Camp workouts), are the ones who will stand out on the ice.
“That’s what we focus on and that’s what I hope they leave here with: The value and the importance of making sure you pay the price off the ice.”
The American trio of Belpedio, Greenway and Tuch will likely be joined by Wild prospects from Finland and Sweden. Both countries will announce rosters in the upcoming weeks.
For these young hockey players, a chance to shine on the international stage is right around the corner.