Friday, July 17, 2009

Drake partners with North Stars school

When the inaugural class graduates from next week’s Dallas Drake Hockey School & Traverse City North Stars Future Prospects Camp, it’ll be better on offense, improved in the defensive zone – and more acutely aware of what it takes to reach the next wrung on the hockey ladder.

The camp, slated for July 20-22 at Centre ICE arena in Traverse City, will teach hockey skills and schemes, as well as strategies for advancing to the upper echelons of the sport. Between three of the instructors – Dallas Drake, Anthony Palumbo and Mike Stapleton – there is a combined three NCAA championships, nearly 30 years of NHL experience, and Drake’s 2008 Stanley Cup title with the Detroit Red Wings.

“These players are at that age where they’re trying to play at the next level – high school, midgets, juniors, college – and all are looking to gain an advantage in that quest,” offered Drake, who played 15 seasons with the Wings, Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues after winning a collegiate crown with Northern Michigan in 1991. “We’re guys that have been around the block, and might be able to throw some different ideas and concepts at them to help enhance both their abilities and opportunities.”

Palumbo, who is entering his third season as North Stars head coach-GM, captained Lake Superior State to the 1989 NCAA title and was an assistant coach for the Lakers squad that claimed the 1992 championship.

“Ultimately, this camp is about sharing our on-ice expertise, but also to help them (campers) understand what it takes to move on in the sport,” Palumbo explained. “The idea is to give them a little taste of what to expect along the way at the different levels.”

Stapleton, currently an assistant coach with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie (Ont.) Greyhounds, played professionally for 17 years, including stints with the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Jets/Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks of the NHL. He finished his playing career in Finland before joining the coaching ranks. He spent 2005-06 as an associate head coach with the North Stars before moving on to the OHL.

“Between us, we have knowledge of high school, juniors, college, and there are two NHLers out there who have seen a lot of things at the highest levels of the game,” Palumbo continued. “I think you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find a camp in the area with that pedigree of hockey experience to impart. We’re excited to get at it.”

The camp will feature an intensive three-day regimen of drills and conditioning, off-ice discussions that range from nutrition to collegiate topics, dedicated plyometrics and flexibility sessions and even outdoor competitive non-hockey activities.

“We’ll work on the skills in both the offensive and defensive zones, breakout strategies, and we’ll throw some situational play in there,” said Drake, who spent his first season removed from the NHL as a pee wee coach in the Grand Traverse Hockey Association. “We’re going to give them a plan to fall back on when they get out there and something comes at them they haven’t seen a lot of. We’re trying to provide them with a blueprint for how to handle things on and off the ice.”

Drake photo from 2008 Stanley Cup victory parade by Matt Mackinder


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