With only four short weeks until all skaters and netminders are headed to Vancouver to begin Canucks’ training camp, Comets Tales caught up with three fan-favorites to talk about their summer preparations.
The days of coming to training camp to get into playing shape are long gone. Being a professional hockey player is a year-around commitment, wherever home may be. With a minimum of 75 regular season games to plan for, it's a marathon, not a sprint, that they must prepare their bodies for.
For Wacey Hamilton, entering his fourth season skating at The AUD, prepping for the 2017-18 campaign has long been underway. Hamilton skated in 67 games last season, a personal best in his three years for the Comets. Hamilton remains busy at looking to top that by making sure he is well conditioned for the campaign.
"I think I was off for about one month, and by mid-May I was back in the gym,” Hamilton, 26, calculates.
Hamilton's routine began with lifting weights, and by the start of June, skating once a week was added to his repertoire. The following month, by July, Hamilton increased his ice time to twice weekly.
Although hockey is king in Canada, not every community has year-around ice availability. Fortunately for Hamilton, who found the back of opponents' nets 19 times last season (another personal best as a Comet), fully operational rinks are available in his home region of Calgary.
At Edge School, located on Calgary's west end, Hamilton continues to ready himself for the coming season. Among the amenities offered to Hamilton and other pros during the summer months are two NHL-sized rinks.
"There's a good mix of us on the ice," offers Hamilton. "We have NHL guys, AHL, KHL, and Swiss league players, too. When it's time to be in the gym, we're all in there together."
At this point of the summer, Hamilton visits the gym five times weekly, Monday thru Friday, and gives himself weekends off. Each trip to the gym lasts for two hours, with increasing his strength, and "keeping fit" as his goals. Tommy Powers of Empowers Performance leads Hamilton and other professional and elite amateur hockey players to help optimize their summer training programs.
To the southeast of Calgary, in Kimberley, British Columbia, Hamilton's friend and Comets' captain Carter Bancks is well into his summer training program too.
"I didn't take a ton of time off," says Bancks, like Hamilton, is entering his fourth season in Comets' colors. "Two weeks off, and by mid-May I was hiking and practicing yoga three to four times a week."
Bancks, 28, concentrates on "cardio stuff." By June, Bancks took his training activities into a gym. While working on the strength side of his game, a few fly-fishing "breaks" were schedule by the Comets' captain. However, for ice time, Bancks would need to make the four-hour drive to Calgary.
"In July, (Kimberley) has no ice," Bancks explains.
This is the first time Bancks has incorporated yoga into his training regimen to gain strength and flexibility.
"After the season ended, for one month, four days a week I did yoga. When the season was over, my hips were tight, so I did a lot of stretching, and strength oriented isometric holds. The tightness then went away," Bancks, said during a recent telephone conversation.
Making the 243-mile drive to Calgary for ice time this summer gave Bancks time away from the rink to visit with his sister, see Wacey, and other buddies. After making the near 2,500-mile drive to Utica from Kimberly before and after each Comets season, popping in and out of Calgary is a breeze for the captain.
With the season close, and training camp closer, Bancks tells that he is increasing his reps in the gym, and skating becomes a priority. "By September, I'm still in the gym, but I'm not going crazy".
In the Newmarket community of Greater Toronto, Darren Archibald is getting himself ready for his fifth season as a Utica Comet.
After taking a couple weeks off, Archibald prepared his body, before engaging in heavy lifting. "By the second week of June I was hitting it hard with my trainer. We've been working together for the last four years," the seven-year pro explains.
The first half of the summer means Archibald starts off his training sessions with power lifting being central. "You're building your foundation up. The closer we get to camp, the less weights I lift," says Archibald.
He utilizes Olympic lifting, snatches, jump squats to increase his quickness and agility on the ice. Usually Archibald is accompanied by two fellow hockey buddies in the gym, to motivate each other.
Derek Joslin, a veteran of 100-plus NHL games and who is currently skating for Munich in the German Elite League, is one of the trio working together. James Livingston, under contract to Dornbirn in the Austrian League, is Archibald's other workout buddy.
Shooting at a net in his backyard is something different for Archibald this summer, as well. Keeping his routine fresh and challenging is how Archibald believes will lead to a dominating offensive edge this coming season.
Archibald has replaced riding a traditional stationary bike in the gym to riding a mountain bike outdoors. The reason is simple - "I enjoy it more than riding in the gym."
Player’s workouts, just like The AUD's upgrades, have been progressing since last spring. An essential goal for both – ready to deliver when the puck drops for another season of Comets' hockey.
Written by Don Laible