Philosophically, youth hockey in Finland is approached a lot in another way than in america. And for former Aspen Junior Hockey govt director Shaun Hathaway, making an attempt to promote the Finn methodology to the native membership coaches and fogeys was tough.
Now the director of Staff Colorado, Hathaway plans to deliver the partnership AJH had with the Finnish Ice Hockey Affiliation (FIHA) to the remainder of the state’s membership groups.
“Finland actually is main the world by way of greatest practices and a number of the most modern analysis,” Hathaway mentioned. “The arduous half was making an attempt to get our coaches to embrace it, to get our dad and mom to embrace it, and I feel having it on the state stage the place we’re now going to be dealing immediately with hockey administrators and packages, it’ll have extra of an affect and will probably be much less making an attempt to persuade the dad and mom, and particularly the coaches, that that is groundbreaking info.”
Hathaway first brought FIHA to Aspen for the 2016-17 hockey season, when Finland’s youth hockey supervisor, Kalle Valiaho, spent the winter right here sharing concepts and serving to prepare younger Aspen Leaf gamers. A yr later was the beginning of a deliberate 10-year relationship that will bring in Finnish student-coaches to Aspen every winter, one thing it’s finished every of the previous three seasons.
Assist Native Journalism
This similar partnership is now transferring statewide, as FIHA lately shaped what they’re calling a “collaborative partnership” with the Colorado Beginner Hockey Affiliation (CAHA), with assist of USA Hockey.
“With Shaun working with us on the state stage, it was only a pure evolution of this system to deliver it to the state as properly,” mentioned CAHA president Randy Kanai. “Simply watching what’s occurred the final three or four years since Shaun has been doing it in Aspen, there is no such thing as a query. When Shaun introduced it to the state stage, it was a unanimous thumbs up.”
Contemplating the state of the world among the many novel coronavirus pandemic and different logistical hurdles of taking this partnership statewide, this coming winter received’t embody any teaching swaps just like the Aspen program had. As a substitute, it’ll largely be a sequence of webinars on many alternative matters that will probably be out there to the state’s membership packages, together with AJH, ought to it take part.
The hope is that by the second yr of the statewide partnership, CAHA will be capable of bodily usher in Finnish coaches for the season, and probably ship some American coaches to Finland.
Golf equipment are in no way required to adapt to the Finnish mannequin, however could select to take what items they need and apply them to their very own packages.
“We’ll proceed to develop this system because it evolves over the course of the following couple of years,” Kanai mentioned. “It’s at all times an uphill battle with our teaching staffs … the vast majority of individuals are old-fashioned, proper? They assume the old fashioned method is one of the simplest ways and I’m satisfied, particularly on the youthful age ranges, smaller ice surfaces are a lot better for ability growth.”
Each Hathaway and Kanai agreed the important thing to creating the connection work is overcoming these philosophical variations. It begins with the aggressive mindset — the Finns focus extra on ability growth versus competing on the youth ranges — and precisely the way to implement that on ice. Increasingly more, Finland is utilizing half-ice or cross-ice play with kids 10-and-under as a substitute of skating the complete size of the rink.
They usually aren’t simply doing this for practices, however precise in-season competitions.
“In case you do this over right here, it might be blasphemy to have a recreation that doesn’t seem like the NHL, that doesn’t seem like it does on TV,” Hathaway mentioned. “I type of liken it to a soccer participant, a 10-year-old, taking part in on a 100-yard discipline for soccer. To switch that discipline and to have that participant play on a a lot narrower discipline and a a lot shorter discipline, that helps all of the athletes versus simply the quickest children that may run across the finish and rating all of the touchdowns.”
Regardless of a comparatively small inhabitants of about 5.5 million — roughly the identical as Minnesota, which has produced extra NHL gamers than another state — Finland is likely one of the world’s hockey powerhouses, together with Canada, Sweden, Russia and america. Whereas hockey is taken into account the favourite sport amongst Finns by way of viewers — just like soccer or baseball within the U.S. — Hathaway largely credit their distinctive method to youth coaching for his or her worldwide success.
On prime of directing Staff Colorado and training a AAA bantam crew out of Colorado Springs, Hathaway was lately named the ADM coordinator for Colorado. ADM, or American Improvement Mannequin, is what USA Hockey makes use of for its long-term growth plans in youth hockey, which it filters down by means of its affiliate membership packages, like in Aspen.
AJH at the moment is within the late levels of discovering a brand new director after deciding earlier this spring to move on from Hathaway, who had led this system the previous seven years.
“If I can make the most of my new function as ADM Colorado coordinator to assist Aspen out and the brand new director they rent, that will be a win-win,” Hathaway mentioned. “It is sensible for USA Hockey and Colorado and will definitely hold issues going and hopefully Aspen will probably be concerned sooner or later, as properly. That’s my hope, as a result of there’s undoubtedly quite a lot of profit. However to have this go to your complete state, what an incredible alternative.”