Former IceHogs helping local kids grow their hockey games


Some local kids have the right idea to beat the heat this week. They’re spending a lot of time on the ice at the Riverview Ice House.

The Rockford Park District’s youth hockey program is holding two camps. One is a fundamentals camp for inexperienced players. The other is an elite camp for players who have played on travel teams.

The kids are learning from some top instructors including Bailey Larson of Belivdere North who plays collegiately at Colgate University. Two former IceHogs who are part of the park district staff are also helping the kids. One is Oak Hewer. The other is Raitis Ivanans who not only suited up for the IceHogs’ old UHL franchise, but he also played in the NHL.

“These kids are lucky,” says Hewer. “We’ve got lots of coaches. Great coach-to-kid ratios, and they’re all working on their game having fun.”

“They’re good listeners,” says Ivanans. “It’s a lot of fun having these kids on the ice. Hopefully they’re learning stuff and with it having a lot of fun playing the game, skating shooting.”

Ivanans remembers attending youth camps himself when he was young.

“Oh yea. I started a little later at seven. These days kids start earlier, but for sure yea I remember all of the camps. The off-ice stuff we used to do. It sticks with you kind of forever all of the fun stuff and making memories with friends.”

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