Photo by Diane Cox
Two goalies trade off taking shots on each other in the goal at the East Alton Ice Arena.
EAST ALTON – Hockey’s heating up the East Alton Ice Arena this summer. General manager Larry Thatcher said there’s no freeze on the action.
A multiple skills youth clinic started earlier this month and will run through July 31. It features four activities: stickhandling and power skating, shooting and scoring, defenseman skills and checking, plus small-area games.
“It’s specialized training,” Thatcher said of the skills clinics. “You customize your summer hockey program to fit your needs and focus on individual skills.”
Edwardsville coach Jason Walker and Toledo Walleye defenseman Tyler Elbrecht are serving as the instructors.
Thatcher also has 3-on-3 competition for high school players. It debuted July 13 and will run until Aug. 23. And there are Senior league games going. Each team is playing 10 times.
“We’re running the skills clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” Thatcher said. “We start it at 11 a.m., so it doesn’t have a conflict with kids doing other things later in the day or at night. It’s convenient for them and we have quality coaches.”
Walker enjoys coordinating the skills clinics, open to players of all ages.
“Each week, we are doing a different schedule,” Walker said. “Everybody likes to shoot and score goals, but there are a lot of things we talk about and do. I think it’s especially fun for the little guys.”
Hunter Longer, 12, of Collinsville said he’s having fun absorbing the finer points of the sport. He’s concentrating on improving his shooting and scoring skills.
“I learned that if you are going to score, you have to shoot the puck quickly,” he said. “You also have to know where to shoot it. It (the clinic) has been helpful for me.”
Walker said the clinics blend together, even if they are specialized ones.
“Skating is kind of the foundation for everything,” he said. “Overall, the kids get to practice religiously and get in their reps.”
Thatcher figures the 3-on-3 competition will grow in popularity. Games are being played on Saturday or Sunday nights. They have no-check, no-offside and no-icing rules.
“It’s a new program we are putting together. It’s wide-open hockey and a conditioning game,” he said. “It’s sort of like roller hockey.”
He said he got the idea from a hockey enthusiast in Pittsburgh and the style seems to be catching on nationwide.
“The 3-on-3 league is Pittsburgh has 28 teams,” Thatcher said. “Each team needs nine guys and they will skate in three shifts. There’s a line change every 45 seconds.”
For information on any of the Ice Arena doings, contact Thatcher at email@example.com or call 444-1112.