Hockey training took over the Midnight Sun Complex earlier this month as players of all age levels prepared for a big year.

Doug Russell, right, leads players during the annual Inuvik Minor Hockey Association clinic.
Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

The annual Inuvik Minor Hockey Association clinic saw 110 people take part from Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Tuktoyaktuk.

The clinic brings in southern coaches to teach and train fundamentals with players.

For bantam and midget players, the Nov. 10-14 weekend was a crucial time to hone skills before Arctic Winter Games trials Dec. 7-9.

Beyond on-ice training, players engaged in checking skills in the squash clinics, warm-up and cool-down sessions with a fitness instructor, yoga sessions and nutrition activities.

The bantam tryouts will be taking place in Inuvik, midgets will be in Yellowknife, and girls in Fort Smith.

For peewee players, the weekend also served as an evaluation camp for Team NWT’s peewee team.

“They want regional representation, so we hope to have four kids and a goalie on that team,” said Kelcy McDonald with the IMHA.

Doug Russell returned to coach the clinic this year. The father of Edmonton Oilers player Kris Russell, has been coming north for almost 20 years. He was joined this year by Brian Benning, father of Edmonton Oilers player Matt Benning and brother of Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning.

Russell said last year he was always surprised with the high level of skill in the North.

“That’s why I saw we don’t spend a great amount of time teaching skill,” he said at last year’s clinic. “It’s more about the game, the pace of the game, how you read and react to the game. We just come up here and teach situations.”

The IMHA has been running the hockey clinic for 19 years.

“It’s all been good,” said McDonald toward the end of this year’s. “The kids have been great.”

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