Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
After a year of operation, the Victoria Puckmaster’s location in Colwood has changed its name to the Island Centre of Excellence (ICE).
Victoria, BC, February 5, 2012 - Walking through the doors of the just over one year-old Puckmaster’s hockey training facility in Colwood last Friday, one would not have guessed that anything new was afoot - players were training on the skating treadmill, two others were working hard in the gym, and a number of others were on the real ice surface getting some one-on-one lessons with their coaches.
However a substantial change happened over this weekend and it is one that will vastly improve the diversity of training opportunities and activities that facility owners Geoff Carrow and Kevin DeJong can offer their customers.
Puckmaster’s Victoria will now be known as the Island Centre of Excellence (ICE) and will be ending its association with the North American wide Puckmaster’s franchise.
In an interview with ISN Friday, owner Geoff Carrow stressed that it will be business as usual at the facility but that ICE will now be able to diversify the hockey programs and activities that they can provide to their clients, as well as offer non-hockey related training to other athletes.
"For the past few months we have been trying hard to work under the Puckmaster’s corporate model, but it has been a struggle and has not worked for us. Too much of our time and energy has been put into trying to deliver that service model when all we really want to do is offer a great place for kids to come and train and play hockey. Adults too, as our adult 3-on-3 leagues are really taking off. We felt we could offer better products and better services – and better hockey - to the people in the community if we did it on our own.”
Adult 3-on-3 leagues have grown in popularity on the 1/3 size ice surface at the ICE facility in Colwood.
Asked if there were certain “rules” within the Puckmaster’s model that were constraining what programs they could offer, Carrow clarified, “I think it was more a lack of direction. There were some things we expected to get from the Puckmaster’s franchise that we did not. We were looking to them for a reputable name and a model that would provide us with a really strong foundation in quality service delivery. We felt we didn't get either of that and if we had to invent ourselves completely on our own anyway, we might as well do it as our own entity, using our own branding and our own programs.”
“Both Kevin [DeJong] and I have huge hopes and dreams for this place and we want to be able to fully express that without being constrained by any other corporate direction, or lack thereof in this case.”
The focus of the new ICE will be on three key components: the 3-on-3 leagues, the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy that will be starting in the fall and their regular slate of ongoing hockey training activities.
With regard to the ongoing training and programs clients are currently involved in, Carrow stressed that there would be little change, “Things will be pretty much status quo and existing clients won’t notice much of a difference initially with their ongoing training. We will however be packaging our products differently in response to what clients have been asking for, so some things will look a little different, but for the most part, the service delivery of the programs will be the same to begin, but over time, if anything, will be greatly improved.”
Saanich Junior Brave rookie Shawn McBride has benefited this season from workouts on the ICE 1/3 size ice rink, as well as dryland workouts this past summer.
While the ICE acronym certainly hints at the hockey training theme, the full name – “Island Centre of Excellence”, indicates that there may be other types of training that ICE plans to offer other than hockey.
Carrow confirms that this is the case, and that it goes beyond just the training of hockey players. “We are attracting a lot of attention, for example, from the medical services community right now and we wanted the name to reflect the fact that we are trying to create a centre for the hockey community specifically, but one that does not just have to do with the physical training of athletes.”
“It also has to do with healing (injury education, prevention, etc.), with career services and with something that can evolve and cross over outside of the hockey community and into other sports. In essence we envision this becoming a privately run community centre but with some pretty high standards and goals.”
No matter what it is called, Carrow, DeJong and all the staff at ICE, have started and continue to run a quality hockey training facility that is greatly benefiting hockey players in the region, both young and old. The skating treadmill provides one of the most unique skating training tools on the entire Island and the small 1/3 scale hockey rink, with a real ice surface, offers a chance for players to enhance their “small area” game skills, as well as have fun 3-on-3 competitions with each other.
The ICE skating treadmill (left) provides a unique training tool for hockey players, while the ICE dryland training facilities (right) will appeal to athletes in any sport.
This author can personally attest to the success of the ICE programs, having coached a team last season that trained all year at the facility and then went on to win a Silver Medal at the BC Hockey Provincials last March. This author’s son – a Midget age goaltender in the Rep program at Saanich - is also a regular client at the facility, working out there in the gym on almost a daily basis and having lost near 35 lbs as a result of the fitness, workout and on-ice programs developed for him by the ICE instructors.
Saanich Braves midget rep goaltender Jason Stewart is a regular at the ICE facility and has lost close to 35 lbs over the past year thanks to the ICE L.I.F.T. dryland program as well as on-ice training with ICE instructors.