This year’s Elite Edge Hockey Showcase, held in June at the Southern Ice Arena in Franklin, Tenn., not only avoided the sophomore jinx, it reached all-star levels.
Featuring more than 70 top 1987-1991 born players, the 2006 edition of Elite Edge could be considered even more of a success than its first goround last year. Participants this year included players from Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Huntsville, Atlanta, Florida, Louisiana and Kentucky, plus prep schools in Indiana, New England and Pennsylvania.
"It was a great week. I really believe that we are attracting the best
players possible," said Brandon Walker, camp director. "By that, I mean we are getting the players who are already among the best, but they also have a mindset and a work ethic that is pushing them to be the best."
This year’s camp included visits by representatives from several junior programs, including the Marquette Rangers (North American Hockey League), New Jersey Kings (Independent Jr. A) and Columbus Jr. Blue Jackets (Central States Jr. B). Several players from the first edition of Elite Edge moved on to play junior or club hockey. Walker anticipates several from the 2006 camp will do so as well.
"The coaches from these programs were very impressed and excited about the players at the camp," said Walker. "There is some real talent here and great potential for the future. I hope we can continue to get teams here to see these players and help them advance once their AAA or high school
careers are finished."
Players at Elite Edge participated in more than 13 hours of ice time, split between practice and game situations. There were also seminars, video sessions, off-ice training and team building sessions.
Among the special features were a guest presentation by Danny Geoffrion, father of Nashville Predators draft pick Blake Geoffrion, about the options available to young players. Joe Birch, director of player development for the Ontario Hockey League, spoke to the players regarding the importance of education in their hockey futures.
Other coaches included Uwe Krupp, head coach of the German Olympic Team; Dan Wildfong, player and assistant coach of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs; Mike Rooney, president of Western Prospects Hockey Development; and Robert Bouchard, video coach of the Nashville Predators. David Good, the strength and conditioning coach for the Predators, was in charge of the off-ice testing and training provided to the players.
"Along with having the top players from this area, I really believe our group of coaches are the best for any camp around," said Walker. "It is great to have a group so committed to making sure that each player receives the most out of the week as possible."
This year’s Center Ice Magazine award winners were Christopher Johnson, Tampa Bay Titans, the top goaltender; Bjorn Krupp, TPH Thunder, the top defenseman; and Ryan McAleese, TPH Thunder, the top forward.
Next year's Elite Edge camp is scheduled for June 6-10, again at Southern Ice Arena in Franklin. Early registrations will be sent at the beginning of the upcoming hockey season, with invitations for new players to be mailed after the first of the year.
For more information check www.eliteedgehockey.com