From page 26
Learning how to bale on the ice and master the skills
of skating, shooting, passing and checking paid off rather
handsomely for ohn Tucker, an original partner of tra ce who
has returned as the hockey director. Tucker is well known in
the Tampa ay community as well as the hockey world, having
spent 12 seasons in the Naonal Hockey League, mostly with the
ualo Sabres, and being part of the Lightning’s epansion team
in 1992. He also played in apan and played and coached in taly.
f greater importance to enson is Tucker’s penchant for
being able to work well with young hockey players. At the behest
of enson, he returned to tra ce following a four-year snt
coaching the ualo r. Sabres.
“He’s etremely good at what he does and he’s very
thorough,” enson said. “He can relate to the kids in a way that
haven’t seen before.”
For his part, Tucker is happy to be back coaching in Tampa.
“Aer four years in ualo coaching at the U-20 level, it is
refreshing to come back to the youth level and help young players
learn and improve their skills,” Tucker said.
At tra ce, enson said there is a new focus on training at
the young ages with a learn to skate program. And by being a
non-prot organiaon, hourly rates for pracces, clinics and
games are kept at a reduced rate while euipment is donated for
some who cannot aord it.
“The Lightning helps us out tremendously and ’m etremely
proud and ecited about the relaonship we have with them,”
enson said. “We’re making sure we get the younger kids who
want to skate and bring them to the rink. And we’re trying to
build a big rec program.”
Added elanger, “t’s been fun to see the development of
the younger kids. love the game and love to teach it.”
Tucker is fully aware of how much the Lightning values
being involved in young players and he is glad to be a part of the
renewed focus on recreaonal players as well as beginners.
“Taking a step back and looking at how hockey has grown
in the area, along with seeing the commitment the Lightning
has made in creang new players with their programs, we are
ecited about reaching out and increasing our presence in rec
and beginner’s hockey,” he said. “As a coach seeing travel teams
dominate prime me ice hours our thought process is to change
our scheduling to create more me to help the beginner players
gain their condence and improve their skill levels.”
With Tucker and elanger leading the way, along with
contribuons from former Lightning players like Stan Neckar,
assen ullimore and hris Dingman, enson said, “We pride
ourselves on having ualied and professional training.”
While the rec program has gone from virtually non-eistent
to 30 players in November “ think there’s a huge market for
rec players,” enson said compeve hockey also has a place
at tra ce.
The Tampa Scorpions, a travel organiaon of mites-midgets,
pracce at that rink. The Scorpions are armed with three naonal
tles, which brings notoriety to tra ce. The unior ulls also
“t’s brought us a lot of recognion,” enson said of the
travel teams. “The Scorpions aributed a lot of their success to
playing on a shorter surface.”
Lastly, the newest addion to tra ce is a ,00-suare-foot
gym that oers weight training and cardiovascular programs.
nce again, though, it sll comes down to tra ce being
uniue in its smaller rink concept.
“Any conversaon with eperienced coaches comes back to
small area games, escapes, one-on-one bales, beang checks
and opponents to the net,” Tucker said. “A great eample is
watching three-me Stanley up champion and two-me league
MP Sydney rosby play. He dominates down low below the
hash marks and this is essenally what small area games teach
you. ou’re thinking, reacon, puck control and increase far
more uickly than playing on a larger surface.”