Summer training preparing hockey players for upcoming season

A high-performance hockey league in Chatham-Kent is allowing players to lace up their skates this summer as they get ready for their fall training camps.

The teams were selected on Friday for the latest season of the Athlete’s Fuel Cup, an off-season hockey league put on by Athletes’ Fuel Strength & Conditioning designed to help athletes stay mentally sharp while keeping them in game shape. The league includes players as young as 14.

During the competition, every team has three five-player shifts. The three shifts are determined by the age of the players, where they played last year, and where they will play hockey for the upcoming season.

One of this year’s attendees is Kyle Hope — a forward from Blenheim who recently signed on to play professional hockey in Europe. He said they’ll be playing games twice a week.

“The league just helps to put you in situations to be aware with the puck,” he said. “You can skate all summer but until you’re in those situations where you have to make split-second decisions, you’re not used to that.”

He adds the league is an opportunity to make those decisions without the pressure of excessive competitiveness.

Hope will be one of the three captains for this year’s instalment of the league along with NHLer T.J. Brodie, a Dresden-based defenceman currently playing for the Calgary Flames and Seth Griffith – a right-winger from Wallaceburg who plays for the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Having three professionals teach the next generation of talent from the area is helping to highlight how good Chatham-Kent hockey is, said Hope.

“It brings everyone together in Chatham-Kent … there’s a lot of talent that people can come out and see,” he said. “There’s a lot of hockey talent … and to get us all on the ice together is a great opportunity.”

The league will begin July 29.