ALUMNI SHINE AT PREDS CAMP
Date: Jun 28, 2019
By BROOKS BRATTEN
There’s an on-ice session during day one at the Elite Edge Hockey Showcase that draws the eye.
Mixed in among the orientations and introductions, classroom talks and the first touch of the puck, an exam of sorts is being taken, but instead of a pencil and paper, it’s all in the chip.
Underway at the Ford Ice Center just outside of Nashville, Elite Edge began its 13th annual running on Monday by incorporating Sport Testing into the showcase for the first time. With hockey moving into the age of puck and player tracking, the tests done on Monday aim to give participants an opportunity to test their speed, quickness, reaction time, skating, puck handling and the like against their peers.
“It’s a pretty cool setup,” Total Package Hockey On-Ice Skills Coach and Mentor Damian Surma said. “People see the sensors light up and say, ‘Oh, what’s that?’”
Upon stepping onto the ice, all players slip on a wristband with a chip inserted, a necessity to receive their test results. Just before skating through the tripods with the red and green indicators, they scan their wristband as a way to let the sensors know they’re up.
From there, players participated in two tests – the reaction and the sprint. For the reaction test, the skaters move through a series of obstacles with the lights – red to go right, green to go left – forcing them to make a split-second decision on which turn to make. As they approach a pair of tripods with light-up indicators at the top, one of them illuminates with a color, and thus determining where the player should go.
For the sprint, players go forward and backwards, with and without a puck, from one pair of sensors to the next to test their speed and skating skills. By scanning their chip prior to beginning the specific test, their results are instantly logged into an online database, which players can then view after the practice is complete.
The opportunity to see those numbers and compare them against other players their age comes with a wealth of benefits, especially when searching for ways to improve their overall game.
After all, the word ‘Edge’ is in the name, and it’s a program such as this utilized by Elite Edge as another way to give its participants every advantage possible.
“This gives these kids a jump-off point,” Surma said. “They see their numbers and they can say, ‘OK, this was my number, now let’s see if I can do better the next time.’ It’s really a guide of how much work you put in off the ice to get better on the ice.”
Surma would know about those off-ice and on-ice skillsets meshing together. A veteran of 13 years as a professional hockey player, including two games with the Carolina Hurricanes that saw him score in his first-ever NHL contest, Surma is familiar with what it takes to play at an elite level – and it’s showcases like this that can help participants do just that.
“A camp like this, it just gets you out there,” Surma said. “Especially now, everybody needs to be seen and everybody always wants to go to this camp or that camp to be seen. The biggest thing is just being in front of people who know about hockey, know about the game of hockey, and that’s what is being put on here for these kids.”
The chances of making it to the NHL one day are slim, but perhaps it’ll be a program like Sport Testing to help one of the kids who skated through the sensors on Monday make it a reality. The watchful eye of someone like Surma certainly helps, too.
“If you’re a coach, that’s all you want to do is help these players,” Surma said. “Kids that want to get to college and play college or play juniors, to maybe be able to give them that chance, it’s very rewarding to be a part of that process.”