Hockey has undergone a number of changes in the last decade. One of the most pronounced has been the realization of the importance of skating ability.
One would only have to view a few NHL Classic games on the hockey channel to visually see the difference in skating prowess of NHL players of yesterday versus the players of today.
While the Bobby Orr’s, Gilbert Perreault’s, Guy Lafleur’s and Marcel Dionne’s were exciting skaters with great speed and acceleration during the 70’s their dominance was augmented by the average skaters who would in many cases be considered poor skaters by today’s standards.
Former Atlanta Thrasher, now New Jersey Devils Ilya Kovalchuk is known for his powerful strides as much as for his goal scoring ability.
USA Hockey (the youth hockey governing body in North America) and most successful youth hockey programs have emphasized skating and as a result continue to make strides evidenced by more and more United States born players competing at the NHL level.
In Atlanta the Thunder organization is offering a Skating class called TPH Overspeed designed to concentrate on skating.
The class which will be held on June 23-24 will be conducted by Keith Rowe and Karlis Zirnis.
Both Rowe and Zirnis have an extensive on ice background:
Growing up in Detroit, Michigan Rowe played his youth hockey on elite level Detroit youth teams, and was named “Mr. Hockey” as the state’s top amateur player in 1999. Keith played his Junior A hockey in the NAHL where he was named to the league’s Western All Star team in 2000-01. He went on to play four years of Division One NCAA hockey at the University of Alabama Huntsville. After his college career, he played professionally for the Amarillo Gorillas of the Central Hockey League (2005-08) and served as the Gorillas’ team captain.
Karlis Zirnis was born and raised in Riga, Latvia where he played for Latvian Hockey Junior Club until he was 17 and won the Latvian Ice Hockey Championship in 1995 He Played in the World Junior Championship U-18 in 1995 and U-21 in 1996 and 1997. Karlis then went on to play in the North America Junior Hockey League for the Gaylord Grizzlies and eventually earned a scholarship to the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) During his college hockey career Karlis won the College Hockey America conference his sophomore and junior year, was named pre-season player of the year in 2002/2003. He is on the all-time top 20 scoring list. Following a successful career at UAH Karlis played professional hockey in the Central Hockey League (CHL) with the Colorado Eagles During his 2003/2004 season.
Karlis was the rookie scoring leader with 37 assists and 60 points Karlis also was invited to the try-out camp for the Latvian Olympic team and played games for team Latvia.
Both men will be on hand to work with AAA, AA, and A level players on improving skills and advancing to the next level of youth competition.
According to Thunder management “Skaters will be challenged every session with qualified instructors concentrating on balance, agility, speed, explosive power and stride efficiency. The class is for those who are serious about improving their skating ability.”
TPH will alo hold n identical session in Huntsville, Alabama.