Darien and New Canaan youth players attend hockey summer camp in Stamford
It was a good week to be a youth hockey player in New Canaan or Darien.
That's because the North American Hockey School Summer Camp came to the Terry Connors Ice Rink in Stamford, attracting players from several towns, including New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Norwalk.
Making the event all the more special for the young players was the presence of New Canaan native Max Pacioretty, who plays for the Montreal Canadians.
"I'm loving it. The best part is probably meeting the coaches," Darien's Hudson Ely, 9, said. "They're really nice and today we got to meet Max Pacioretty."
In addition to Pacioretty, the coaching staff also boasts Drew and Stewart MacKenzie. Drew MacKenzie was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres and is entering his senior year at the University of Vermont, and Stewart MacKenzie is attending Trinity College next year.
Pacioretty himself indicated that helping young players is an ideal way to spend his offseason.
"Growing up playing hockey here - even was I was younger - it wasn't as big as it is now," Pacioretty said. "It's good to come out here and show these kids that there is hope coming out of this area with hockey. Since I've come to these camps, I've realized how big hockey has picked up here and it's good to see."
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Pacioretty went on to say that young players can benefit greatly from attending summer hockey camps.
"It's good to always get as much information about the game as possible," Pacioretty said. "There's a lot of good coaches around the area. There are a lot of good camps around and it's good for kids to get out there and learn everything they can about the game at a young age."
"These kids are learning the skills of the game, and when they learn those skills, they have more fun playing the game," Hughes said. "Our main goal is to grow their passion, teach them the game and have fun."
The week-long camp, which runs from 9 a.m.-noon daily, provides young hockey players with an opportunity to hone their hockey skills, as well as gain an appreciation for the game. Campers are able to take part in drills which focus on power skating, shooting, defense and goalie skills.
"It's been great. The kids have been working hard all week. They're learning some new skills and they're starting to apply them," Hughes said. "We build on it as the week goes along and the kids love it. Parents have been telling me that the kids are getting up early and they can't wait to get here, so that's a great sign."
According to Hughes, the camp is building to a large scrimmage on Friday, which is expected to be one of the highlights of the camp.
After Wednesday's session, campers also said that they would be interested in participating in similar hockey camps in the future. Many also added that this camp was undoubtedly assisting them in becoming better all-around hockey players.
"I really like doing the scrimmages because it's just like playing in a game and I love games," Darien's Gavin Levine, 8, said. "I probably will do another camp like this because it's a lot of fun."