Austin Coldwell has spent a good portion of his 27 years traveling long distances to learn and play hockey.
The Vancouver native went from youth hockey to junior hockey to college at the University of Anchorage-Alaska to the professional minor leagues. His only real time playing close to home was at ages 15 and 16 for the Fort Vancouver Pioneers at Mountain View Ice Arena.
Now that his playing days are over, Coldwell has opened his own training program — Austin Coldwell Premier Hockey, or ACPHockey — with the goal of not only developing young players but giving them the option of staying close to home to learn the sport.
To make that happen, Coldwell not only coaches at Mountain View Ice Arena, he uses his ACPHockey gym with its 224-square foot synthetic ice surface.
“No one here is doing this,” Coldwell said of his artificial surface that has been in place since January. “I wanted to start training players and developing players here. It creates more opportunities.”
That’s the case for 11-year-old Rylan Oster. He’s part of the Junior Winterhawks program.
“We’ve had take so many trips to Canada on weekends,” said his father Rory, who is the athletic director at Camas High School. “It was great that we found Austin.”
Synthetic ice is like a hard plastic cutting board put together like a puzzle with interlocking pieces. It is treated with a lubricant that gives the ability for skates to slide and yet remains dry to the touch.
The bonus of a synthetic ice surface is it can be placed anywhere at any time of the year, hot or cold, without electricity.
Coldwell explained that the purpose of utilizing the synthetic ice along with the real thing is to develop the smaller details of the game.
“Skating, edgework, lots of movement,” he said. “Lots of applied pressure to the skate and stick handling as well. We try to work on very technical, very small details here in the gym.”
On the real ice at Mountain View, Coldwell has players work on broader hockey skills and positional work.
“We have hypothetical situations, show players why they are working on a particular skill,” he said.
To share his work with athletes, Coldwell utilizes social media by posting videos on Instagram (@ACPHockey) and Twitter (@ACPHockey77) from his workout sessions and camps with the hockey players. His website www.acphockey.com outlines the program.
“You can learn how to use the whole body efficiently. It’s an application for game day,” Coldwell says of his program. “It’s just hard work. No secret there.”
Coldwell is already seeing his hard work pay off, not only in keeping players close to home, but also looking to expand his gym into a bigger space in the coming months.