Fitness tests set the tone for Ice camp

Veterans and prospects put through their paces before the official opening of training camp on Wednesday.

Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill holds court with a few of his players during veterans fitness testing on Tuesday at the College of the Rockies track.

Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill holds court with a few of his players during veterans fitness testing on Tuesday at the College of the Rockies track.

Despite all the sweat and groans on Tuesday afternoon, Kootenay Ice veterans and prospects completed the first part of training camp before it officially opens on Wednesday.

Rotating through various stations and ending with 200-metre sprints at the College of the Rockies track, the players were put through their paces in fitness testing in advance of on-ice sessions that will make up the rest of training camp through the week and weekend.

The veterans started the day in the morning, while the prospects had to battle through the heat in the afternoon.

Kootenay Ice athletic therapist Cory Cameron said the tests are a way for the coaching staff to monitor the fitness levels of their players. The veterans were required to send in test results at various points in the off-season, and Cameron added that those numbers will allow staff to see how their players are trending coming into camp.

“We’re looking for changes from the end of last season for returning players, positive and negative changes, so we may have to address some issues if there are some negative changes in any of the areas—strength, weight, body fat percentage,” said Cameron.

“We’re also looking for positive results, guys that put the time in, in the offseason, to get better and prove to us that they were going to come back and work hard this season.”

Tests included pull-ups for upper body strength, a medicine ball throw and lunges.

“It shouldn’t be very difficult, to be honest with you, based on how often they do it,” added Cameron. “The tests aren’t that extreme, there’s some really basic stuff we do that measures upper-body and lower-body strength, explosiveness and flexibility, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.”

The tests moved from the depths of the arena to the College of the Rockies track for the 200-metre sprints, which was undoubtedly the most intense part of the process.

Divided up into groups, the players had to complete 10 heats in under 30 seconds, with a two-minute rest in between.

The old days of players coming into training camp out of shape are over, said Cameron, adding that off-season programs have evolved over his last 10 years in the business.

“That’s kind of the old hockey thought-process, is coming to camp to get in shape,” said Cameron. “These guys are all putting in a lot of time and effort in the offseason to come to camp in the best shape possible, so they’re putting in effort with personal trainers, strength coaches at home away from us, to come into camp in the best shape possible.”

On-ice sessions begin on Wednesday at Western Financial Place, with a veterans practice at 9 a.m.