Arizona Rubber

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New AHU youth skills coach St. Clair boasts stacked resume; Thanksgiving Shootout another success

 

colten-st-clair

It was excitement personified when the Phoenix Knights of the Western States Hockey League brought aboard Gilbert native Colten St. Clair as the team’s new assistant coach to work with coach-GM Mike Bowman and fellow assistant coach Kurt Goar.

Fast forward a few weeks later and the Arizona Hockey Union has added St. Clair to the club’s skills coaching staff to work with the rest of the youth program.

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“This addition brings a dynamic and talented mentor to our roster of accomplished skills coaches,” said AHU president Stacy Shupe. “He will provide another level of specialized coaching, techniques, and drills for our players. His skill and experience will bring a new and fresh approach to teaching youth hockey players in Phoenix. We look forward to working with him in realizing those benefits in both the youth and junior programs.”

St. Clair comes to the club with an impressive hockey resume, despite being only 23 years old. Having been born in Gilbert, he not only knows the sport, but understands the hockey landscape in the Valley of the Sun. St. Clair began playing hockey at the age of eight in Chandler and played youth hockey with several organizations in the Metro Phoenix area during his youth.

Over the years, St. Clair’s coaches consistently praised his work ethic and dedication to taking responsibility for his personal growth and development.

One of his coaches, former NHL defenseman Jim Johnson, said, “We started every practice with stride mechanics and proper posture and what I call glide platform. Until you learn to skate with glide platform, you’ll never be able to skate faster than you can run. That’s one of my strengths of having been around the National Hockey League and player development for many years working on these fundamental skill progressions.”

St. Clair learned quickly that mastering the fundamentals was the only way to play at the highest levels.

St. Clair played his junior career in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Fargo Force, compiling 43 goals and 41 assists in 151 games, and his 84 points are still the most in franchise history. He also had five goals and five assists in 28 USHL Clark Cup playoff games. St. Clair then went to the college hockey powerhouse that is the University of North Dakota. During his time at UND, he was part of three Frozen Four teams, including winning a national championship in his final collegiate season of 2015-16. He also won two gold medals playing internationally as a member of Team USA.

“Colten adds an enhanced element of skills and tendency training to the players,” said Shupe. “Every team at high levels has skill development coaches, and we are excited that he will now be lending his experience and skills to our youth players.”

St. Clair himself is equally as excited.

“I am enjoying helping the kids learn more about hockey and focusing on making sure they are having fun as they learn,” St. Clair said. “In order to wake up extra early to practice before school and put in the hours after school, it has to be fun or they won’t want to work hard.”

St. Clair added that his goal at the end of each practice and lesson is to have the players wanting to come back.

“Colten’s confidence and enthusiasm are contagious and the parents, coaches and players are thrilled when he is in the rink,” said Shupe. “It will be exciting to watch as Colten helps coach the next great hockey players from the Valley.”

Shupe also noted that AHU coaches can contact St. Clair directly to work with their teams. He is also offering one-on-one sessions.

For more information or to schedule a training session, St. Clair can be reached at Colten.StClair@phoenixknightshockey.com.

Photo/Russell Hons Photography/UND Athletics

— Jason Prentice

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Another year, another Thanksgiving Shootout success for AHU

shootout_logoFor the past 15 years, the Arizona Hockey Union has been hosting the Thanksgiving Shootout Tournament and each year, it has been bigger and better than the previous year.

The club’s 2016 tournament consisted of over 70 teams from the Southwest U.S. and parts of Canada and had 10 divisions from Mite to Midget.

The Shootout is also one of the only tournaments in the nation that is conducted over the Thanksgiving holiday, but does not schedule games until Friday morning. So although some great Black Friday deals may be missed the AHU teams can celebrate the holiday with their families.

The Union had two championship teams as the Mite White and Squirt White teams both won their divisions.

“The AHU family would like to congratulate them for their accomplishments,” said AHU president Stacy Shupe. “Both teams had tremendous fan support and the kids did great. Way to go boys and girls.”

The Ventura Mariners from Simi Valley, Calif., had a very impressive showing by having a team in all 10 of the divisions.

“This is a tribute to the success of the tournament and the fun that teams have when they attend,” noted Shupe. “The teams traveling in from out of state also have a positive economic impact on the local community and we greatly appreciate all of the local hotel support.

“We also want to thank all of the great volunteers and the AHU Tournament Committee for all of the great work they do. Planning the tournament begins months before the actual event. Once the event kicks off, it’s all hands on deck and the team did an absolutely awesome job.”

Moving forward, the AHU’s focus is now on the Presidents Day tournament in February, which will utilize all 11 sheets of ice in the Metro Phoenix area.

— Jason Prentice