As we embark on this journey of revisiting the past decade of Pro Hockey Europe, I thought it would be fitting to start at the very beginning. Before the official camps, before the hundreds of participants, I was just a young 18-year-old goalie with a dream.
The NHL Dream
At 18, I was playing hockey in America, living the dream but always hungry for more. The desire to improve, to be the best version of myself on the ice, consumed me. I trained every day, pushing my limits, but I knew I needed more. I needed guidance, someone who could help me refine my skills and take my game to the next level.
The Swedish Connection
Through some friends and contacts, I stumbled upon Magnus Olsson from Blue Crease Goaltending in Sweden. Magnus was a goalie coach, and given that I was a goalie myself, I reached out to him, hoping against hope that he’d be willing to train with me. To my delight, he agreed! The idea was simple: I’d fly him down to Italy, and we’d train together. To make it more feasible, I invited a couple of goalie friends to join in and share the costs.
The First Unofficial Camp
So, there we were, just four goalies, Magnus, a few shooters, and a whole lot of passion. We trained for four intense days. Our sessions began at the crack of dawn, 7:00 a.m., mainly because the ice was more affordable during that timeframe. Those early morning sessions, though grueling, were some of my fondest memories of the camp history. And for those goalies and shooters that were there, we know what the best part of it all was: My mom bringing in fresh made sandwiches in the locker room! We’d train for two straight hours, followed by an off-ice session, wrapping up around noon. The afternoons were ours to relax and recuperate, but those mornings were all about hockey.
It wasn’t an official camp by any means. It was just a group of friends, passionate about the sport, coming together to train. After that week, I headed back to my season in America, the memories of that training camp tucked away in a corner of my mind.
It wasn’t until the following spring that I found myself thinking about that summer again. The memories of training with Magnus and the gang, the early morning sessions, the camaraderie, it all came flooding back. And that’s when I realized that maybe, just maybe, this could be something to keep going.
That summer in Italy was the spark that ignited Pro Hockey Europe. It was the prologue to our story, a story that I’m excited to share with all of you. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into this journey, one memory at a time. 🏒🌅