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Hockey clinic draws 98 players
Visiting coach praises Beau-Del talent

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Teaching situations, not systems, was the goal at the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association's 18th annual hockey clinic last month.

NNSL photo/graphic

The bantam group gather for a photo at the end of the 18th annual Inuvik minor hockey clinic. On the far right is coach Doug Russell. - photo courtesy of Marsha Branigan

"With the younger kids, we work on their skill development, give them a basic understanding of the game, but from the peewee on up we try to teach them more of the game," said coach Doug Russell, who's from Alberta but has been making the trip up to Inuvik for the hockey clinic for 17 years.

"The game is the same no matter where you play it around the world. It's how much time you have with or without the puck."

Ninety-eight players took part in the clinic from Oct. 20-23, from novices up to midget level. They came from Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk and Fort McPherson.

Russell should know hockey pretty well, being the father of both Kris Russell on the Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Russell on the Colombus Blue Jackets.

"Up here, the better players have a lot of time with the puck, but if you go down and play competitive hockey somewhere you have no time, you've got to make quicker decisions, so everything we base our drills on is to take away their time and space for them to react quicker and to read the play better," said Russell.

The skill level in the Beaufort Delta is very high, he said.

"We've never ever doubted that," said Russell. "From the first time I came up here, I couldn't believe how high the skill was. That's why I say we don't spend a great amount of time teaching skill. Its' 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."

And beyond the skill, Russell said he loves the community.

"I love the kids," he said. "The parents are outstanding. There are tremendous people in this town. I could go on and on and on."

He even ran into a former student of his, whose six-year-old son took part in the clinic this year.

"We're getting second generations we've been here so long," said Russell.

He looks forward to his next visit.

"For those who haven't been to Inuvik, it's an outstanding community," he said. "I'm overwhelmed. I just can't say enough good things about coming up here."

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