Nova Scotia Voyageurs…

Remember the Vees? Back in the eighties they were a force to be reckoned with. An AHL team based in Halifax from 1971 to 1984, the games were awesome… bringing much excitement to the city not to mention handsome hockey players on the streets of downtown!

Two years ago, with permission from the Montreal Canadians to use the Voyageurs name, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs Hockey Program began offering Spring Development. Young hockey players throughout Nova Scotia on the ice to learn new skills with instruction second to none… a pure focus on development rather than games.

The coaching staff are professional coaches throughout the area including Chris Donnelly (Head Coach for 2011 Canada Winter Games, former associate coach with the Halifax Mooseheads and more importantly former bouncer to Brandy’s where many years back he’d let me skip the lineup), Bob Mayo (Goalie Coach for 2011 Canada Games and Major Midget Coach), Bill Short (General Manager of Game Breakers Hockey Training Facility and Major Junior Scout), Keifer House (Director of Top Shelf Hockey and former Director of Maritime Hockey Academy) and Tony Breau (Assistant Coach for the Dartmouth Subways.)  Also helping with the program’s philosophy to have fun, develop players and teach sportsmanship… though currently hobbling around the rink with a broken ankle and unable to lace a pair of skates is Darrel Young (Atlantic Scout for the Vancouver Canucks.)

The smiles on the kids’ faces are infectious.  Second only to the smiles on the faces of the coaches enjoying each and every player on the ice.  Teaching respect and teamwork… taking players aside for individual pep talks… telling them specifically what they did right or wrong then throwing an arm around them with a hearty laugh… followed up a few minutes later with a “that looks better!” or a “there you go!”  Building confidence.

My son has never received such high calibre of coaching in the eight years he’s been on the ice and while I don’t want to take away from the numerous coaches who’ve brought him this far… this is really something to see!  I’m seeing a difference in just a short period of time and he’s loving it!  Always happy to learn and thrilled to play.  Working hard.  Sweaty and gross at the end of every wonderful, entertaining, jam packed session with a grin on his face as the helmet comes off whether he did something right or wrong… animated in retelling the story of his teammates pelting him with ice in the dressing room as they’d all had to drop and do push-ups for his “banging his stick on the ice” but in fairness to him… he REALLY wanted that puck!  Lesson learned… teamwork!

The Nova Scotia Voyageurs program is making a difference.  Believe me… I’m sitting in the rink a few days a week and while admittedly I don’t have a sweet clue when it comes to coaching… even I know that if these kids were to use just a small amount of what they’re being taught and put it in a game… what a fabulous game it would be!!!