Must Have Game Skills

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Did you see Minnesota Hockey’s most recent online article about “Must Have Game Skills for Forwards”? Mark Loahr, head coach for Totino-Grace’s boys’ high school hockey team, who is one of only 12 coaches with more than 500 wins in Minnesota high school hockey history says this. “We do a lot of 1-on-1 battles along the wall”  “And we do it in open ice too – learning to control the puck in a small area in open ice. “We try to do one of those drills at least every other day. We do a lot of small area stuff, especially as the season goes on.”

Does your skater need to further develop this area of their game? ESP Hockey’s 3 on 3 leagues naturally provide that exact environment and your player will have great fun building that important skill.

11 Straight Years of Growth

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So how is it ESP 3 on 3 has experienced eleven straight years of growth when economically speaking it probably shouldn’t have happened.  There’s only one way that could occur in these challenging times and it boils down to overall value.  When you measure cost, puck time, action, sheer fun, and playing against similarly skilled competitors, ESP 3 on 3 is simply unmatched. Our past 2015 season featured 50 teams spanning 4 girls levels and 6 boys levels with the perfect amount of ice hours that allow it to compliment AAA or in season sports participation. The unique benefits of 3 on 3 on a right sized rink help build a complete player and many parents and coaches want it as the final piece of their off season hockey development puzzle.

As our Bantam A group from last season moves on to HS we will replace them with another 5-6 team group that will fill our Bubble B Squirt level.  As for the other levels we will be looking to add two new teams to our 2015 U10’s moving next winter to U12 and two new teams for U15 girls moving to HS next winter. Those will replace our highest girls level of 2015, who are now embedded within their HS teams this current winter. We anticipate there may only be 1 team opening in what will be 2016’s U12A, Bantam A, Bantam B, & PWA, Peewee B, and Squirt A levels with our 90% historical retention rate so coaches should contact us early to reserve a team slot at those aforementioned levels…

Girls Deserve Ladies Only Leagues

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How many times have you seen off season hockey venues mix girls with boys together because they don’t have enough girls to form ladies only levels?  If you’re tired of their excuses, we’d like to invite your daughters to join us in ESP Hockey’s All Girls 3 on 3 Leagues this spring and fall… We won’t tell you it’s easy to build girls only levels because it’s not. There are far fewer girls’ teams in Minnesota and Wisconsin than the boys have and the teams are often smaller but we don’t let that prevent us from doing the work required to make it happen. These leagues will provide young women with the social environment, the skill match, and the commitment to girl’s hockey they deserve.

We currently have limited potential team slots available at all levels, but we primarily need individual players to fill existing teams at the Bubble A U10 level, the Bubble A U12 level, and the Girls HS level. Please contact us to see if your player is a skill fit and we will look to place them on a team that will help them improve their game, have some fun, and make some new friends in the process…

The Ideal “Second” sport.

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Other than Ice Hockey, is your son playing a second sport?  Is it soccer, football or baseball? Those sports do provide some benefits in helping your skater become a well- rounded athlete but the biggest bang for your buck, when choosing a second athletic venue to compliment hockey, is playing Lacrosse.  So why is Lacrosse the fastest growing second sport for hockey players?

  1. Similarities of offensive schemes, hand eye, type of body contact, cardio.
  2. No Football or Soccer Nazi’s…  Definition:  Coaches who punish players who are absent in order to attend alternative sporting events like hockey.
  3. The still great potential for playing lacrosse in college.  My own son played for the North Dakota State Bison last season but only played a year of JV Hockey in HS…
  4. Politics has not yet ruined it.
  5. Never too late to start… There are numerous players who start playing lacrosse at 12-13 years old who make their HS teams a few years later.

So check out lacrosse in your community this winter and give your player more than a second sport to play.  Give them one that will truly enhance their hockey skills when they’re off the ice and on a field…

The Missing Factor to the Summer Hockey Equation

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Wondering what you can add as the final piece to a summer / fall hockey puzzle that will best prepare your athlete for fall tryouts.  We have a limited number of 2014 fall team openings at several levels if you’d like to add 3 X 3 to your skaters athletic plan.  You can’t imagine how much the game will slow down for your athlete when they step on to the “big ice” after playing on the studio sheet for a couple of months.  Their confidence, and their ability to execute (with more time and space) will make their game seem both precise & effortless to tryout evaluators and it will occur through all the touches, corner battles, shots, and passes our 3 X 3 continuously provides, not to mention the quick thinking & quick feet that ESP’s version of 3 X 3 demands.  Not sure if you can put a full team into place?  There will likely be single player openings available at most levels if you’d like your athlete to play this fall but he’s a little short on buddies to bring along.  You can contact us through the register page on this site and we’ll be excited to help find a spot for a full or partial team, or a spot on an existing team in need, to accomodate your player for the fall season…

Skating is Not Enough

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Is your player a good skater?  Mine was a gifted, graceful, effortless skater… The fastest player on his final year B1 Bantam team and the fastest player on his JV team a year later.  Not just fast either, fast and smooth.  His coaches and teammates commented on it often.  He also had a great attitude and was committed to the fore-check & to back-checking. So why did he get cut after a year of JV under his belt going into his junior year?  Simply because skating isn’t enough to play high level hockey.  He was unselfish to a fault never wanting to make mistakes when the puck was on his stick. He became an accurate passer by giving up the puck all the time, but he was not the creative, confident possessor of the puck he needed to be to continue playing at a higher level. The ESP 3 X 3 helped him substantially, but you have to want to be that player who controls the play and who is willing to put in the time in the garage and on the outdoor rinks too, shooting and stickhandling hours at a time, in order to be comfortable, confident and skilled with the puck on your stick when it’s crunch time.  For those players who want to lead a team skill wise but need to improve on that part of their game the ESP Bubble 3 X 3 leagues are a fun place to do it. They’ll still need garage work but this will add the ice, the game speed, and the opponent into their equation. There are so many touches, shots, & passes on the small rink that it elevates the skill progression rapidly all while having great fun playing in Minnesota’s best 3 X 3.  If you believe skating is enough to play HS hockey or beyond you may want to rethink that. Unless he’s the next Derek Boogaard the NHL will be looking at the skating and the skills. We learned the hard way that one out of two is not enough…

Balancing Fun and Development

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Each spring for the past 3 years I have had discussions with a local coach about building a team for play in our 3 on 3 bubble kid leagues.  He has always opted for skating, shooting, or stickhandling camps, along with a practice heavy AAA team which was always a little above his kids skill pay grade…   This spring he notified me that he’ll be doing neither the heavy development nor 3 on 3 because his son has quit hockey.  Told his dad it wasn’t fun anymore.  Just a friendly reminder about the idea of balancing out fun and development.  Skills don’t matter much if they won’t be used any longer… ESP Hockey’s 3 on 3 leagues are a great way to provide that balance for your players!  We have limited team slots still available at a few levels but they will fill quickly with only 4 weeks remaining before the season launch.  Contact us if you have a group of boys or girls who might like to play before all slots are filled.  There may be openings for individual players to join existing teams as well at some levels if that is your situation…

Blog Coming Soon

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Stay tuned for updates on all things hockey beginning spring 2014.