Glenwood Springs players hone skills at camp |

Glenwood Springs players hone skills at camp

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted Photo By Larry MacDonald

URBANDALE, Iowa – They sleep, eat and play hockey all in the same place. It’s their home for a month.It’s Metro Ice Sports Facility in Urbandale, Iowa, where five young members of the Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association are finishing up an intensive camp that’ll go a long way in polishing their game.Glenwood Grizzlies Alex Parrish, Levi Fetterhoff, Boris Kulwiec and Robert and Mark MacDonald earned invites – by way of regular-season scouting – to the Greeley-based Mountain States Renegades’ annual camp.Renegades coach Tim Knox is the man behind shuttling the select group of youngsters – who hail from Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and elsewhere – up to the Iowa facility, which shares owners with the Greeley rink that houses the Renegades program.

“We spend 12 to 15 hours on the ice, we have off-ice training and we go compete,” said Knox, summing up the camp regimen. “We have kids from Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, the Loveland area, New Mexico, Wyoming, Greeley.”Knox’s campers toil through quite the schedule. They rise from their cots at 6 or 7 a.m., gear up and run through an on-ice session. Then it’s time for a little off-ice skills session. “We’re just shooting on concrete ice,” said Parrish, who along with Fetterhoff, Kulwiec and Robert MacDonald, is a member of the 1994 birth-year Renegades select group.From there, it’s outside for dryland training, where campers run sprints or, sometimes, a hill behind the rink. All in the Midwest’s notoriously oppressive humidity.”It’s really humid and hot,” Fetterhoff said. “Our dryland training outside just makes us sweat a lot. It’s really hot.”After lunch, it’s to the classroom to work on X’s and O’s, followed by a return to the ice for another skate session and more dryland training. Next in the routine is dinner and an hour-and-a-half scrimmage.

Of course, a little free time is sprinkled in between all that, but hockey is clearly the center of life for Knox’s campers.On weekends, Knox takes campers to Triple-A level tournaments to compete as select teams. So far, they’ve been to Fargo, N.D., and Blaine, Minn.It was at the latter tourney – the Schwan’s USA International Hockey Cup Invitational – that the ’94 Renegades group collected a title by running the table through five games.That included a seemingly impossible come-from-behind win in the championship game. Down 4-1 to a team from Wisconsin, the Renegades rallied for four goals in a 3 minute, 18 second span to win – in regulation, no less.”I’ve never played in a game like that,” Kulwiec said. “Literally, my heart stopped. I just couldn’t believe it.”It’s competition like that that’s rendered the Glenwood crew ecstatic to be afar – save a bout of homesickness or two – honing their hockey skills.

“It’s such a different level of hockey,” Robert MacDonald explained. “It’s so much more intense, so much more physical play. … Everything is so crucial. You can’t make mistakes. It’s cool to play with guys the same speed, same strength.”Coming from an area where hockey is still relatively raw makes the Iowa experience that much more critical in the Glenwood youngsters’ development.Added Kulwiec: “It’s a lot faster than back in Glenwood.”Each Glenwood camper has seen his game improve drastically over the past four weeks. Camp ends this weekend.”Since I got here I’ve been getting a lot better,” said Mark MacDonald, Robert’s younger brother and a member of the ’97 Renegades. “They’re teaching us everything – stick-handling, shooting.”And, for a group of kids dreaming of one day playing hockey at the highest level, such a camp is a necessity.”It’s the experience of a lifetime,” said Robert MacDonald, whose father and grandfather grew up playing hockey. “It’s a taste of what it takes to get to the next level.”

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