Summer at Kreitzberg Arena

The Elite Hockey Training Center

Happy campers: Elite Hockey girls boarding camp, July 2013.

Happy campers: Elite Hockey girls boarding camp, July 2013.

Most Members of the Norwich Family are well aware that from October through March, Kreitzberg Arena is the proud home of Norwich University men’s and women’s hockey. However, every summer since 1999, the rink has also served as a venue for one of the top youth hockey camps in New England: The Elite Hockey Training Center.

NU Men’s Head Coach Mike McShane helped bring Elite Hockey to Northfield through his association with his colleague George Crowe of Dartmouth. George’s daughter Patti now runs the camp as the executive director, with McShane serving as the Norwich site director.

Many former Cadets have worked for Elite over the years, headlined by Norwich Men’s Hockey standouts Keith Aucoin ’01 and Kurtis McLean ’05. Recent alumni-coaches and counselors include D. J. Fimiani ’09, Eric Tallent ’10, Chad Anderson ’11, Owen Carpino ’12, Igor Martinez ’12, Mollie Fitzpatrick ’12, Julie Fortier ’12, Kelly Fisk ’13, Colin Mulvey ’13, Zac Fulton ’14, and Shane Gorman ’14.

This summer, rising senior Bryce Currier ’15 enters his fifth year as an Elite Hockey counselor. “I needed a place to train during the summer so I chose this route,” said the Essex Junction, Vt., defenseman. “I’m also a physical education major, so it fits in well with my academic field.”

As a counselor, Currier is responsible for his charges 24/7, from eating meals in the mess hall, to swimming in Goodyear Pool, to sleeping in the dorms. “The aspect I enjoy most are the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Currier says. “You also can’t beat the facilities here,” he adds, “with every team getting its own locker room and space in the dorms.”

Former Cadets star—and now NU Women’s Hockey assistant coach—Sophie Leclerc ’10 has a long history with Elite Hockey. Like Currier, Leclerc was a counselor for four years, but for the past two summers she has been a member of the coaching staff, giving her a chance to work with the kids during on-ice practices and off-ice shooting drills. “It’s great to get the chance to work with a whole range of skills and make the dream of playing hockey at the next level happen for some kids,” Leclerc said.

The camp has been a fertile training ground for youngsters who have gone on to compete at the collegiate level: Elite alumna Annie Pankowski, one of the last players cut from the 2014 US Olympic Team, will enter perennial powerhouse University of Wisconsin this fall. But no matter what their skill level, “the kids really like the campus, Kreitzberg, and the school,” Leclerc says.

Leclerc and Currier agree that the highlight of each session is the end of the week, when the squads participate in a playoff-style tournament to close the camp. “Everyone wants to win the championship, and the winners celebrate like it’s the Stanley Cup,” Leclerc says. “We’re mostly here, though, to make sure the kids are having the best time they can. I think 95 percent of them tell me they had the best week of their lives and can’t wait to come back next year,” Leclerc adds. “They go from being homesick on Monday to not wanting to leave on Friday.”

This summer, Norwich is hosting three sessions for boys and one session for girls. For more information, visit elitehockeycamps.com.
–d.d.

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