By RYAN MCCRACKEN on August 14, 2020.
Local goaltenders have been putting in work for a potential upcoming season at this week’s World Pro Goaltender camp, held at the Family Leisure Centre.
COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for young athletes, but World Pro Goaltending head instructor Marcus Beesley says the camp’s young netminders haven’t missed a beat after having a global pandemic complicate a prolonged off-season.
“It’s been really impressive,” said Beesley, who has been helping operate camps in Medicine Hat for four summers, and has been running them for the past two. “Even with the COVID layoff, a lot of these goalies have come back in way better condition, which is a testament to their commitment to the game on and off the ice. And their skills have clearly improved. That’s not just from a one-week camp, that’s clearly because they’re dedicated athletes year-round. It’s been really good to see those improvements, and just seeing them growing as people too has been really rewarding.”
Beesley says the weeklong camp has been operating in three separate groups, but numbers are strong considering the circumstances.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with it, but it’s definitely been different with the regulations and protocols that we have in place,” said Beesley, adding lunches are separated and no equipment can be shared between players. “That’s been a little different in terms of camaraderie of the group and everything, but not necessarily a bad thing. They’re still getting the same content on the ice, the class is still the same, lunch is a bit different obviously.”
Beesley added the first two groups are full camps that include ice sessions, dryland conditioning and in-class analysis. Group 3 is not a full camp, but features one ice session and one class, which focuses on video of NHL goaltenders, as well as video taken of netminders in action at the camp.
“The on-ice portion (for Group 3) is more focused on specific skills, so we do a lot of slides on one day, we do a lot of desperation saves on one day – that was today,” he said. “We try to focus on one area and each drill pertains to it in some way each day.”
From a coaching standpoint, Beesley said it’s been a highly rewarding week at the FLC, helping the region’s rising talent sharpen their skills while providing a safe outlet in a summer nearly devoid of sports.
“To be in Medicine Hat and see these goalies – not only at this camp but throughout the year at our clinics that we do – is very rewarding and different, and fun,” he said. “Even with the COVID situation we’ve been able to have a safe and fun camp … I think people trust our safety protocols, trust that we’re being responsible and want to get back on the ice.”