SCOTTISH ICE HOCKEY are launching the 2016 National Development Program at Dumfries Ice Bowl this Sunday.
Last year’s program was considered a huge success in a year that saw the U11 Scottish Conference team win the conference championships for the first time.
This year’s program has been expanded and will see 180 of the best junior ice hockey players in Scotland participate in the series of six-hour mini camps, including on and off-ice training as well as video lectures and nutrition training.
SIH head coach Steven Lynch revealed he’s spent a large part of his summer getting things in place and admits to being nervous ahead of Sunday’s first sessions.
He said: “I was brought in by David Hand to be the head coach and coaching co-ordinator for the national programme and it was something that had been missing.
“The more I got into it, the more I realised how much was needed to be done so I spent a large chunk of the summer and the beginning of the season getting things in place.
“Now it all gets put to the test and I’ll admit to being a little nervous, but confident it will work and how it will help the national programme.
“This year was about learning to walk before we can run and doing that, gives us scope to add things and tweak things in the future.
“There was no playbook in what we wanted to teach, so that took time to get in place.
“We’ve put together classrooms sessions teaching the theory of ice hockey and certain systems then they go on the ice and put that into practice.
“There’s still a lot more we want to do in the future and it was important we lay the foundations, allowing us to make it a little better year upon year.
“And I hope everyone gets what they want from it and ultimately enjoy themselves.”
The camps are held at Dumfries Ice Bowl every month and culminate in U11, U13, U15, U17 & U19 teams heading to Sheffield for the EIHA Conference Championships in May 2016.
Also new this season is former Belfast Giants and Edinburgh Capitals netminder Nathan Craze coming in as goalie coach and sports fitness company Think-Fit, run by Nicola Ward who will provide off-ice and nutrition training.
The program also includes Scotland U18 Ladies, who will again be lead by coach Ruth Wallace. Last year Scotland Ladies competed in their first ever competitive tournament finishing in a creditable 3rd place at a girls tournament in Swindon.
SIH’s National Development Chairman Duncan Shearer is looking forward to the event also and is particularly keen to see the new elements that have been added.
He said: “Our teams have had good success in the last few years hopefully we can continue to punch above our weight.
“With that, I’m very excited to see the newly expanded program take shape and a lot of work has gone in over the summer.
“I’m sure the players will really benefit from the new methods and addition fitness training.”