I was in Grade 6 at Riverside Community School and about 10 or 11 years old when I first started going to the Hockey Canada Skills Academy at Carlton Comprehensive Public High School in Prince Albert, Sask. Mr. [Mark] Odnokon is the instructor for our hockey program; he is a very nice and hard-working guy who has taught us about hockey skills and development.
He pushed us to go past our comfort zone and helped me and my friends reach our goals. We were at the Art Hauser [Centre] every Thursday – on the ice by 8:30 a.m. and off the ice by 9:30. I was always excited to be on the ice because I got to learn new things every time my class and I went to the Art Hauser. Even though it was only an hour, Mr. Odnokon taught us many things while we were on the ice; he taught us how to use our edges while skating, how to protect the puck and how to always keep our head up.
Every once in a while, he would surprise us by bringing a member of the Prince Albert Raiders to teach us new things, which was pretty exciting. On special days, Mr. Odnokon would let us play a full game for the whole hour we were on the ice, against kids that were bigger and older than us. The older kids were way better, but that didn't stop us from having fun.
As I grew older, my choice was to go to Carlton for high school so I would be able to be part of the HCSA in Grade 10. Now that I am older, Mr. Odnokon has been teaching us a lot more about stick-handling on and off the ice, and about cardio and how to keep our bodies in shape for hockey.
Recently, Mr. Odnokon brought two veterans from the Raiders to come skate with us – Cole Fonstad (before he was traded) and Justin Nachbaur. I got to have a good talk with Justin about the Raiders and how they won the WHL championship last season. After we had our talk, Justin was kind enough to teach me more about my edge work and stick-handling; it was pretty exciting to have someone like him help me push me to be a better and more skilled hockey player.
In the hockey program at Carlton I get to experience a lot of new things, I am able to push myself to be the hockey player that I am today. It has only been a month and a half this season, but I've developed new skills on and off the ice.
Mr. Odnokon is a great teacher and an even better person. I'd like to say a big thanks to him for allowing me to be in his class and for everything he's taught me in the past few years. My HCSA experience has been great and I wouldn’t change one thing about it.