Dorozhenko quietly leads ‘Next Generation’
Boris Dorozhenko is the first to admit: His methods aren’t for everyone.
Part skating coach, part skills instructor – yet 100 percent optimist – Dorozhenko is plenty confident that once people see his way of thinking, players (and their parents) will be willing to give his unique methods of his aptly-named “Next Generation” hockey a try.
Describing Dorozhenko’s instruction methods is hardly easy, but John Kosobud – himself a former college and minor-pro player – gives it a shot (while also urging anyone intrigued to see for themselves by clicking the “Video” tab at NGHockey.com).
Kosobud explains that a strong focus on “core balance and edge control, creating a center of balance directly over your heel rather than toes” is key to the delivery on skating instruction.
“Most of what he teaches really focuses on that strong heel,” Kosobud said. “He does a drill where you learn a controlled walk on the outside edge of your skates.”
Kosobud also describes the unique nature of how Dorozhenko manages his players on the ice.
“I don’t know a single hockey school where kids who are playing juniors are on the ice at the same time as Mites,” he said. “The little guys emulate and learn from what these big guys are doing, and by teaching the younger ones the older kids get a stronger grasp – and it makes them better.
“That’s why it’s ‘Next Generation.’”
Coming to North America from his native Ukraine a decade ago, the list of players to learn and develop under Dorozhenko’s watch continues to grow.
From Arizona alone, names like U.S. National Program star Auston Matthews, Calgary Flames draft selection Austin Carroll, Buffalo Sabres second-round pick Brendan Lemieux and Eastern Hockey League up-and-comer Hector Majul have all been mentored by Dorozhenko.
Dorozhenko’s reach extends far beyond Arizona; he’s worked extensively in Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia, along with serving as the skating coach for the Ukrainian National Team at one time.
“Over the course of the last 17 years, I’ve worked with players who’ve moved on to the highest levels in hockey, including Canadian juniors, European professional and the NHL,” Dorozhenko said.
Dorozhenko likes to joke about his trips back and forth across the pond and how his methods are accepted from continent to continent.
“In Europe, it’s, ‘Look what North Americans are doing; they’re so smart,” he says with a laugh. “Then here, in the U.S., they say, ‘Look what Europeans are doing; they’re so smart.’”
To Kosobud, who credits his own son’s hockey transformation largely to Dorozhenko’s tutelage, a player’s willingness to commit to his training methods pays dividends.
“I put my kid in his camp his first year of Pee Wee,” Kosobud said of his son, Carson, 15, a former Phoenix Firebird now playing in Minnesota. “He hated it; it was that hard. His legs were so sore he could barely stand up the next day.
“They didn’t see a puck for the first three days of camp, and they were on the ice for three hours a day.
“But as time went on, (Carson) loved it. By the end of the week, he saw results. Players can feel it and see the results and say, ‘OK, this feels good.’”
Kosobud supports the art of Dorozhenko’s method so much so that, today, he helps Boris organize camps across North America. That included Next Generation’s recent winter school last month in the Valley, as well as four separate weeks of camps this coming June at Arcadia Ice Arena in Phoenix.
Other camps this year are slated for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Fargo, N.D.
– Brett Fera