Lose your edge on hockey skates, and you’ll eat ice. Pretty much literally.
If you lose your edge as a team, you’re probably in for the same fate.
That’s why the parents and friends who make St. Michael-Albertville Hockey and North Wright County RiverHawk Hockey roll put their heads together to create a dry land training facility for players wanting that competitive edge.
And now, after a few months of hard work and cooperation with Acceleration Minnesota, the NWC/STMA Dry Land Facility is in full swing. The facility, located next to the laundromat along 60th Street Northeast in Albertville, is humming.
“It’s been a pretty exciting couple of months as we’ve opened the doors and really watched this thing try to take off,” said STMA Hockey president Kurt “PapaHawk” Sjelin. “Now that we’ve made it available to the teams, we’ll really have this thing going year-round for the players who want to work on their strength and ability.”
The facility really has three phases: First, a treadmill that rolls synthetic ice. Players can work on their stride, speed and muscles. The ability to incline the ice to an angle really tests the muscles that make a skater fly. Second, there is a synthetic shooting area. With targets and slots, kids from mites to Bantams can work on accuracy and power. Finally, in the mezzanine area, is the turf field for plyometrics training.
“Really, as a coach, you can only work in so much into a practice session, especially when we’re a community with one rink indoors and ice time is at a premium,” Sjelin said. “So if you can come over here and work on those three areas, you can cover more ground.”
“We’re lucky to have this as an organization. It gives our kids a new advantage,” she said.
For April and May, when the ice is usually out of the STMA Arena in Albertville, coaches will bring in upcoming teams for rotational or “circuit” training, where five to six players will get instruction at each station. This can go on throughout the summer, until travel teams begin competition again later this year.
“After 10 years of trying to get a second sheet at our facility, we made this as part of the agenda,” Sjelin said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not still going for additional ice. We just know that this is a way for our kids to continue to build strength, speed and ability, and that’s something every coach needs. So it wasn’t too tough to get everyone in the club on board with this. It’s pretty exciting.”
The club is using fundraisers, such as last month’s “A Knight to Remember,” as well as charitable gaming (pull tabs) at both Neighbors and the 152 Club in Albertville, to continue to raise funds of an expansion at the STMA Ice Arena. If successful, Sjelin said he could see the equipment and space moving to the arena full time.
“It’d be nice to have it under one roof, but for now, it’s just a few hundred yards away. It’s not hard to slip in here before or after practice and get some additional work in, which is why we like the spot,” he said.
The club also thanks Dennis Solberg, who worked as the contractor during the renovation of the space. And Tony Christensen works as the supervisor of the dry land site part time.
“It’s really been a great effort. We’ve got a great partnership with Acceleration, who works with the kids on the training, and it is just ramping up even more quickly than imagined. So it’s great,” Sjelin said.
Check out the video, below, of how the treadmill works. If you’re on a tablet or mobile device, click here for the clip.