The Niagara IceDogs strive to be a positive and active member of the community, not only in St. Catharines, but throughout the Niagara Region, with players visiting schools and talking to students about the importance of education, teamwork and a healthy lifestyle.
This year the Ontario Hockey League team also started a ‘Just Stop It’ anti-bullying campaign, which discusses the effects of bullying and why it is important to stand up to the bullying culture.
The IceDogs were kind enough to allow the Hockey Canada Skills Academy (HCSA) at Westlane Secondary School in Niagara Falls to visit their facility in the midst of a busy playoff run. The Meridian Centre is one of the newest arenas in the OHL, with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, a NHL-style locker room, fitness training centre, video meeting room and a medical area.
Students were also able to see what kind of equipment players were using, what routines players had for warm-up, as well as a glimpse at the press box and a hyperbaric chamber.
Niagara assistant GM Brandon Currie answered a variety of questions from students, including the day-to-day life of an OHL player, travel schedules and bus trips, how team meals work and where players go to school and stay if they are from out of town.
Players also learned about the business side of the game, game-day operations, what it takes to work behind the scenes in the hockey world and what kind of post-secondary courses current employees took to get into their profession.
Overall, it was an incredible opportunity for the students got to see behind the scenes of both the hockey and business sides of a first-class hockey organization.
WHAT IS WESTLANE?
The Hockey Canada Skills Academy at Westlane Secondary School is in its fourth year of operation and growing every year. The HCSA shares students from three different high schools in Niagara Falls and combines them into one course.
The program offers students the unique opportunity to combine formalized hockey training in an academic setting, keeping in mind the overall goal of educating and inspiring students to achieve well in both areas. Students have on-ice skill development two days a week, with the remainder of the week for off-ice personal fitness, classroom theory and healthy living education.
The Niagara Region has a number of great facilities to enhance the HCSA program.
The Human Performance Centre at The Club at White Oaks in Niagara-on-the-Lake is an athletic training centre that trains a variety of sports and levels of players. Students work on speed, agility, strength and coordination training while bonding in a team environment.
Students have also used the Brock University Athletic Performance Centre, learning how university athletes train and maintain proper nutrition. The class worked on speed and resistance training, and received guidance from Vicki Bendus, a world champion with Canada’s National Women’s Team who now works as a strength coach with the national program.