By Kevin Rempel
Fresh out of selection camp, my teammates and I took a trip up north last week to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. We spent a week together there as we practiced for our first tournament of the season coming up on November 25 – December 4 in Calgary, the World Sledge Hockey Challenge (WSHC).
I was pumped. Last year towards the end of the season we went to Winnipeg for a week to practice and made some serious progress that carried over into the WSHC where we swept all five games in the tournament. (This might get confusing, but there are two WSHC’s in 2011. One from the end of last season, and one from the beginning of this season)
This year’s plan is to do the same. First we are refreshing ourselves with last year’s work and teaching it to our two new players, Kieran Block and James Gemmel. Secondly we are now ready to add some new sauce in the mix.
16 hours of ice time in five days is a lot. By the end of the week I was definitely sore and tired. However, this is great preparation to mimic a tournament where you also get exhausted, and have to perform at your best right down to the last minute of the last period.
Getting proper sleep and nutrition while I was there was super important. I was constantly taking naps at the hotel and chugging water to stay hydrated. These camps are work, but I love it. I trained hard all summer long, and it’s paying off. I now have greater endurance and my times all around have improved. Nothing beats hard work.
I’ve also taken on the mental side of the game as a particular challenge this year, paying more attention to studying drills before I get on the ice and visualizing everywhere I go. In the car, eating dinner, lying in bed – anywhere I have a chance to I try and visualize myself pulling off a drill perfectly and doing the right thing on the ice. Being in the right place at the right time is key.
Thursday was our day off there and we spent our time going to schools in groups to share our stories and educate them about the sport of sledge hockey. Yellowknife gave us some of the biggest crowds of kids ever to come watch us practice, and I think we were definitely the talk of the town for some while after each school heard of us playing nearby.
Saturday was an open ice session for the public to try sleds and again. Almost 200 people showed up jumping in sleds and giving it a shot around the rink.
Back home now I’ve had to take almost a week off. Even with all the rest I took I still got sick. This week is looking good though and now it’s less than four weeks until Calgary.
If you’re in the area come check out the Cruisers Cup tournament this weekend in Brampton, November 4 – 6. Details with the schedule can be found on my website at www.kevinrempel.com. It’s a mix of national talent and other high level players.
Also be sure to mark on your calendar that on December 3 the Gold Medal Game will be broadcasted LIVE on TSN at 6 p.m. EST. See you after Calgary!