It’s finally here!!!! The moment all winter sports fans wait 4 long years for the Winter Olympics! And for all of the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey fans, the 2018 Olympics will be very special indeed.
For the first time since the 1998 Olympics, the Men’s team will be comprised of non-NHL players. In 2017, the NHL announced that it would prohibit any player under NHL contract from participating in the 2018 Olympics. Many of the fans I’ve spoken with are upset about not being able to watch their favorite American born NHL players vie for the Gold. But it is my opinion that we are going to watch some new young, talented, and relatively unknown players play some very inspired hockey.
Think about it, what young hockey player doesn’t dream about playing in the Olympics? The 2018 U.S. Men’s Ice hockey roster is mostly AHL, NCAA, and European League players under the age of 25. These guys are hungry, with a lot yet to prove about who they are, and why they have what it takes to play in the NHL. These are the players who are still “on the bubble”, grinding it out in their respective leagues, doing everything it takes to make that final cut.
I can personally vouch for the 3 players that I worked with while they were part of the National Team Development Program (NTDP). Jordan Greenway -Boston University (NCAA), Chad Kolarik-Alder Mannheim (DEL), and Troy Terry – Univ. of Denver (NCAA). As part of the NTDP training curriculum, these 3 players literally put in 1000’s of hours of EXTRACURRICULAR WORK. I’m talking about the hundreds and hundreds of hours above and beyond the 10 hours per week of on-ice hockey practice. Highly focused time spent in the weight room, on the skating treadmill, and other dry-land training protocols (strideboards, skating-specific exercises, elite balance training, mental toughness training, etc.). I know for sure that all 3 of these players would tell you that their 2-year stint at the NTDP was a huge piece of their successful rise in ice hockey.
So, while you are sitting around with family and friends taking in this year’s Winter Olympic games, put some thought into what it takes to get there. What are YOU doing to be the best you can be? Millions of young ice hockey players dutifully show up to practice and to the games, but only about 1000 players make it to the NCAA or Junior level. Have you ever really thought about that? Right now, your child is one of SEVERAL MILLION kids playing ice hockey in the U.S., how do they make it into the elite 1000? What can you do as a parent to facilitate your child’s chances of playing at the highest levels?
Being an excellent skater is probably the single most important skill to work on. The best skaters on the team get more playing minutes, power play and penalty kill opportunities, and the coaches can depend on them to come through in the big games and the overtime games. Once players are 13 or 14 years old, strength training becomes extremely important as well. The physicality of the game and the power and speed required to play at the higher levels cannot be achieved without spending time in the gym with a qualified strength coach. So, while you’re watching the Olympics this year, get online and seek out skating professionals and/or strength professionals near you. Figure out a CONSISTENT schedule for your child to participate in on-ice power skating lessons, the skating treadmill, or time with a certified strength coach. And remember that it is going to take 100’s of hours done consistently over 5-10 years. Rome wasn’t built in a day…
Preliminary Rounds-Feb. 14-18 (U.S. is in Group B) (all times are EST)
Feb 14 US vs. Slovania 7:10 am
Feb 15 US vs. Slovakia 10:10 am
Feb 17 US vs. Russia 7:10 am
Qualification Playoffs-Feb 19-20
Quarter Finals-Feb 20-21
Semi Finals-Feb 23
Bronze Medal game-Feb 24 7:10 am
Gold Medal game-Feb 25 1:10 am
Preliminary Rounds-Feb 10-15
Feb 11 US vs. Finland 2:40 am
Feb 13 US vs. Russia 7:10 am
Feb 14 US vs. Canada 10:10 am
Quarter Finals Feb 16-17
Classification Game Feb 17-20
Bronze Medal game Feb 22 2:40 am
Gold Medal game Feb 22 7:10 am