By Josh Howald
There were so many smiling faces, it almost looked like the last day of school.
Garrett Meurs of the Lake Erie Monsters with some of the young players at his hockey camp in Kincardine last week. From left are Jack and Gray Charbonneau and Madden Walden. (Josh Howald photo)
More than 100 young hockey players were on the ice last week, taking part in the Garrett Meurs Hockey Camp at the Davidson Centre in Kincardine.
And Meurs, a Ripley native, had a smile as big as any of the youngsters. The Colorado Avalanche draft pick who had 14 AHL points last season, was sporting an ear-to-ear grin as he chased down the players in a game of torpedo to wrap up a 90-minute on-ice session at his second annual hockey camp in town.
Many of the players were locals, but there were also youngsters from several other centres who came to be a part of the camp. The players were split into three groups, with the youngest group consisting of players aged 5, 6 and 7-years-old. The youngsters gravitated to Meurs and his instructors, which makes sense - Meurs is just 21 and still has a lot of kid in him. His hockey camp wasn't about developing elite level hockey players, or whipping young players into mid-season shape.
"It's just all about having fun," said Meurs, who will head to his third NHL training camp this September.
"I just want all these guys to have as much fun playing hockey as I did when I was their age."
It seemed as if the players were, with plenty of laughter and jokes going back-and-forth between instructors and students. Garrett McFadden of the Guelph Storm, just back from training camp with Hockey Canada's under-18 team was on the ice every day with Meurs, as was future Ferris State player Ryker Killins, who will play one more season for the Stratford Junior B Cullitons before heading south on scholarship. Joining them, among others, at times was former Kincardine Bulldogs coach Jeff Alcombrack, former CIS player Julie Hamilton from Lucknow and a handful of local Junior and minor hockey players.
"Everything has gone really smoothly again, and it has been a great time," said Meurs, noting that Doug Kennedy is responsible for the bulk of the camp's organization, which allows him to focus his concentration on the young hockey players.
"I really appreciate the work all of the staff did, and I think everybody had fun, including us."