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Developing hockey talent: Former local hockey player excited to help the next generation | News, sports, jobs

Developing hockey talent: Former local hockey player excited to help the next generation |  News, sports, jobs

 


The BR.ICE Hockey Development poster offers players skill development, strength training, advice and video coaching. Founded by former Houghton Gremlins and Michigan Tech Huskies hockey player Raymond Brice, BR.ICE aims to help develop Copper Country skaters and goaltenders. (Photo provided)

HOUGHTON – Houghton native Raymond Brice, former Gremlins star and former captain of Michigan Tech hockey team Raymond Brice, is back in town for the summer. Unlike previous summers when he returned to train for the upcoming season, Brice is doing something different this summer.

He has started a new company called BR.ICE Hockey Development. With BR.ICE he wants to provide a dedicated service to hockey players with the aim of nurturing their skills and talents.

While he just announced he would retire from professional hockey at the end of the 2023-2024 season, Brice has been considering something like this for a while. In fact, he credits another former Huskies player as a driving force who helped him hone his vision.

“(It's) something that when I was in England I started looking into guys that I knew were playing,” he said. “I've played with a lot of guys who do this kind of thing, and I'm just exploring and searching. I spoke to Jamie Phillips. He gave me very good advice. He's been chasing me for years to do it here.”

Brice admits that much of the motivation for starting a consulting/coaching firm like BR.ICE comes from his own experiences growing up in the Copper Country.

“When I think back, this is something I wish I had growing up, or resources I could turn to with valuable coaches and guys who have been there and done that,” he said. “Tyler Schlast did a good job for me growing up, but he had a lot to do with other things himself.

“So this is something that I hope can provide valuable resources and learning tools for the kids all summer long.”

Brice, who has seen much of the world through hockey, has seen similar projects helping players in larger areas with more resources.

“If you look at other places in the US, at big cities, their hockey development has gone crazy,” he said. “Facilities dedicated to summer training. We've got NHL guys coming back to coach their kids all summer to make money, pro guys, you name it. We really never had that, so I think it was something that was necessary. It's something I hope to grow up here.”

Kids in BR.ICE will take the ice for the first time on Wednesday and Brice is excited to meet and learn from players including Connor Hannon, Marcus Gloss, Blake Pietila, Tyrone Bronte, Corey Markham, Brian Hannon, Jake Crespi, Brendan Datema , Camden Markham, Eli Mikesch and Max Fredrickson.

Brice wanted a staff with a diverse background, and he certainly has that, from a high school coach of 25 years, to former NCAA hockey players, to players just starting their journey into college hockey.

“We try to have a diverse background,” he said. “Tyrone came from Australia, he gets the opportunity to work with these kids who have never been on the other side of the world, in Australia or whatever. So I hope to bring different perspectives because the game is changing and everyone sees it in their own way.”

It's also a nice perk to offer goaltenders the opportunity to learn from an All-American goaltender.

“I find it super exciting” Brice said. “When I think about it, we really hired one of the best coaching staffs for this kind of thing, and probably in all of Michigan. I think we have some guys who are really working. With a guy like Blake Pietila, the kids have the opportunity to work with an All-American goaltender, which is super special, and gives kids a personal connection, someone they can look up to now. The kids see the route those kids went, and they learn from them, and it gives them the opportunity to pursue their dreams and hope to one day be in those shoes.

BR.ICE will focus on skill development, but the key difference from a traditional hockey school is that it is tailor-made for each player.

According to the About Us section of BR.ICE's website: “At the core of our approach is our commitment to providing high-quality on-ice skills development, tailored to the unique needs of each individual. Through expert coaching and personalized training sessions, we enable our customers to excel in every aspect of their game.”

How Brice and his staff will accomplish this is through a combination of on-ice drills, but also by helping players understand the importance of on-ice work.

“We hope to be able to give lessons off the ice,” he said. “By working with a visual training or a visual training age called Visual Edge, kids get a chance to see what that's about and all that,”Our mission is: Empowering the next generation of ice hockey players of all ages. Through comprehensive on-ice skill development, on-ice coaching and targeted advice, we deliver a holistic approach to player growth and success in the sport.”

Brice's vision for BR.ICE is that it can be a resource for players for several years to come.

“What we really want to see in the long run is a kid who comes in at six and leaves at 18 and is a much better player than he would have been because he had the opportunity to work with us to work. ,” Brice said. “We understand the market here in the region and we hope to be able to provide affordable resources to these children.

“I hope to be able to give advice if a child has questions or whatever. We kind of want to be that face, and if they decide to work with us or whatever, we can offer those things as well. But it's really meant to give back to the area, and provide a (resource) that's needed here.”

BR.ICE will have two different development styles at work this summer: a weekly series of skill development sessions, for both players and goalkeepers, and a summer development camp, which will last two different weeks in June.

During the development sessions, BR.ICE staff will work with individual players, which will help develop their skills.

“Many of our exercises are individual,” he said. “We're going to have 2-on-1 drills and combat drills, but they're called skill development sessions for a reason. Look at some of the best players in the world, they do exercises that an 8 year old could do, but they just do them at a faster level.

“So what I say to the more advanced kids: 'Just push yourself a little bit, okay? Add a small stick handle here. Add one more move here, okay? Try to get that puck through. Now, take it a step further. ''

The expectation from Brice and his staff is that the skills they work on with players can benefit players of many different skill levels and help them maximize their potential. At the same time, he admits that it won't always be easy to see growth, as the difference in a player's game will change less the closer he gets to his end goal.

“You look at more details of what their development or their game is, to make them even better players,” he said. “Because when you start, your development is like this, (then) boom, you become so much better and faster than when you start. But as you get older and better, you get less (growth). The part that you are going to develop is getting smaller and smaller, because you are close to that peak.”

Brice is very excited to be able to bring his experience and knowledge back to the Koperland in this way.

“I find it super exciting” he said. “I think it will be great to see how the kids respond to camp all summer with those connections, and to see how much we can grow it next summer as well.”

Brice said he has about 150 players signed up for the summer program, and another 100 for the hockey camps. Parents and players interested in all that Brice and his staff have to offer can visit https://www.bricehockeydev.com.

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