Hockey Pro Returns to PV

Parksville-Qualicum News

July 9, 2004

HAVE SKATES WILL travel. Henry Acres lives all over the world playing the game he loves, but he'll always be a Canadian at heart.

By JAMES CLARKE

Henry Acres has carved out a great life playing the game he loves, so it only makes sense that bolstering the skills and the confidence of young pucksters looking to find their own path would be a perfect fit.

Much travelled, highly decorated and a near legend in these parts, Acres is back from Sweden and his latest posting in pro for the summer - gearing up for the second annual hockey conditioning program that bears his name.

Acres Hockey Training is open to males and females aged 13 and over. Divided into four separate five-day camps, the first slot, July 12-16, is full. There are still spaces available in the other three - July 19-23, July 26-30 and Aug. 2-6, but space is limited.

"I started this endeavor to give back to the community some of the joy that hockey has brought to me," the amiable 29-year-old, NCCP Level II coach offered rink side recently, "and to help local kids realize that hockey can take you as far as you're willing to go with it.

"Hockey's provided me with such a great life - I'm paid to play the game I love, and I get to travel all over the world and meet fantastic people. You have to set your goals and believe in yourself," he said, then made the point that confidence is crucial in hockey, and that "you have to pay attention to the little things, just like in life."

Parksville, he points out, has a long history of high performance hockey development (enter Howie Meeker); a tradition being carried on by himself and Heath Dennison (Dennison's Power Skating School runs Aug. 16-20).

A finely tuned program that covers everything from strength and speed to mental work, Acres Hockey Training is unique to the Island. The dry land portion consists of weight training at Fitness Connection gym in Parksville, and core, power, speed, quickness, agility and outdoor conditioning training at Qualicum Beach Community Park (behind Ravensong Aquatic Centre). All on-ice sessions are at Oceanside Place.

Born in Palmerston, Ontario, Acres, an only child, moved to Parksville at the age of 17 in 1992 (his mom, Betty Ann, taught at Ballenas). A technically strong, hard nosed defenseman known for his ever present smile, Acres played for Parksville’s Jr. B Generals on and off for three seasons from 1992-1994. In 1993 he spent a half a season with the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL), and played a half a season with the Victoria Salsa (BCHL) in ‘94.

From 1999-2002, Acres attended Mount Royal College in Calgary. His most memorable campaign on the ice as a Cougar came during the 2000-2001 season when he was named ACAC All Conference and helped lead the Cougs to provincial and national championships.

He spent the 2002-2003 season in Florida with the ACHL’s Jacksonville Barracudas, then took his game to Australia that summer where he helped pace the Newcastle Northstars to their first ever Australian National League playoff championships title.

Last year he became the first Canadian in over 30 years to lace up for the Asploven Hockey Club Div.1 Beavers, and helped steer them to their first ever playoff championship. He’s signed on for another tour next season and returns in late August.

As for his Acres Hockey Training, the program was developed by Acres with help from MRC head coach Scott Atkinson, with input from Don McKee, head coach of the Odessa, Texas Jackalopes (CHL). Between them, Atkinson and McKee bring over 50 years of hockey coaching experience to the table.

Cost of the camps are $200 for weeks one or two, and $300 for weeks three or four (more ice time), with $50 discounts given to those who sign up in pairs.

“Watching the recent Generals evaluation camp, I stepped behind the bench the final afternoon for a hands-on approach and was very impressed with the talent there,” said Acres. “But talent only takes you so far, and the desire to improve daily are important factors that scouts and coaches look for.

“I met Henry the day after he moved here,” well known Parksville coach Ken Kimmel offered Thursday. Kimmel’s son Mike and Henry became best friends. Kimmel, who has over 25 years of coaching under his belt, was at the helm when Acres played for the Gens.

“He was easily the most talented player on our team that year,” said Kimmel, then pointed out that the following year when Henry and his son made the jump to Jr. A with the Salsa.

“He’s a dedicated hockey man and just a great human being,” said Kimmel. “If any kids have aspirations of going to the next level, Henry’s going to show them what it takes."

For more information on any hockey matter or to enroll, contact Henry Acres click here