The hockey season ended for the Portland Pirates more than a month ago but that doesn’t mean Ray Edwards is done coaching.

Between June 24-28, Edwards will serve as an on-ice instructor for the four-day Champions Hockey Academy at the University of Southern Maine ice arena in Gorham.

The day camp features on-ice practice sessions and scrimmages for players 4 to 13.

What’s the difference between coaching professional hockey players and coaching neophyte skaters?

“With the younger kids the instructions are a little bit more detailed,” Edwards said. “It’s also a little bit more fun.”

In its seventh year of operation, the Champions Hockey Academy was started in Iowa by a veteran AHL defenseman, Marty Wilford, an assistant coach of the Norfolk Admirals for the past two seasons, and the Pirates’ equipment manager, John Krouse.

“You just start with the fundamentals, skating, passing, puck control, shooting,” said Wilford, who recently ran an adult training camp in Las Vegas. “We break it down, and each day we try to incorporate a new thing. Then we watch and learn to see how much they’ve improved over the week.”

Players are divided into three age groups.

The beginner group for ages 4 through 7 includes 75 minutes of on-ice instruction.

“For them it’s going to the bare-bone basics,” Krouse said. “It’s going out and learning how to push, how to shovel stop.”

For ages 8 through 10, the emphasis is on reinforcing good habits.

“Good habits make a good player,” Krouse said. “Knowing where to go when the puck is in a certain position. Being in the right spot. We try to get them into the right habits so it’s second nature to them.”

The session for players ages 11 through 13 is called “Enhancing Your Game.”

“This is for kids who have played for a few years and they’re ready to take their game to the next level,” Krouse said. “It’s a pretty intense camp.”

The two upper-age groups include up to 41/2 hours of daily ice time split over three sessions, and off-ice training segments devoted to strength and conditioning, and chalk talk, Krouse said.

The Champions Hockey Academy also has scheduled four-day camps July 23-26 in Chesapeake, Va., and July 30-Aug. 2 in Ames, Iowa.

For more information about the camp, visit


Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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