Springtime fun all around with Rivermen youth hockey program
Friday, May 22, 2015 - Submitted by BCHL Media
Though their season ended March 10, the Langley Rivermen sweater is still being seen in rinks around the Lower Mainland because four teams of spring hockey players are proudly sporting the blue-on-blue crest.
Rivermen bench boss, and 2014 BCHL coach of the year Bobby Henderson is heading up a team of 2003-born players while his cousin Bert, a Rivermen scout, is guiding a group of 2008-borns and also working with the 2006 team. Former BCHL forward Mitch Fyffe is leading a 2001 team.
It’s an initiative with huge upside for the Rivermen but also for the kids. Henderson gets to work at the grassroots level with players he may one day be calling to his BCHL training camps and the kids receive the tutelage of individuals who played and coach at elite levels. The emphasis is on skills and enjoying the game.
“I think the big thing is that you remember hockey is a game and it’s supposed to be fun,” says Henderson. “In the BCHL season, it’s so competitive and it can get intense. A big thing is to remember to enjoy being there.”
That may seem obvious but can be revelatory to young players who may face a great deal of pressure and a shortened bench when the score gets close, even at the atom and peewee levels.
“With some teams, you have kids that play a lot of minutes and other kids that leave the rink not feeling so good about themselves,” says Henderson. “We just go with the next five out, next five out after that. They all get power-play time, all get on the penalty kill too.”
Each of the teams will participate in tournaments and exhibition games this spring. Practices are three days a week and are devoted to skill development. When games come around, wins and losses are a secondary focus.
For players learning the game, and their parents hoping to provide a positive experience, making decisions about where to play and what the options are in the older teen years, the Rivermen spring hockey program is useful there too. The variety of Junior hockey options can create confusion but Henderson and the other coaches are able to offer their expertise.
“We want to make sure that all the kids are educated on their options down the road,” says Henderson. “We let them know that with the combination of hockey and education, you can’t go wrong with the BCHL.”
This spring, the four Rivermen teams have acquitted themselves in impressive fashion. The 2001 team recently won the prestigious Challenge Cup.
“Just the way they conduct themselves in the rink, at tournaments – representing the Rivermen, they feel like part of the family,” says Henderson. “They’re all enjoying it.”
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