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Working with hockey pros chance of a lifetime

For a young hockey player from Humboldt to be part of the first annual All-Canadians Mentorship hockey camp this summer was an unforgettable experience.
Bantam player Reid Gardiner shows the jersey he wore during the Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship camp exhibition game he played in Mississauga, August 6. Reid will be playing in the AAA Midget league next year with the Saskatoon Contacts.

For a young hockey player from Humboldt to be part of the first annual All-Canadians Mentorship hockey camp this summer was an unforgettable experience.
Among the 42 youths from across Canada who were selected during try-outs, Reid Gardiner was one of five bantam-aged players from Saskatchewan who attended the camp in Mississauga, Ontario, August 2-6.
Allstate Insurance sponsored the intensive five-day camp that set out to give the young athletes valuable information about the skills they will need to develop as they progress in their careers in hockey.
Gardiner said the highlight of the camp was the work they did with the coaches for the exhibition game they played on the last day.
On the third day of the camp, Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators and Luke Schenn, defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, arrived to meet and practise with the teams they would each be coaching.
"It was pretty phenomenal, working with the pros," Gardiner said. "They were with us all the time; you could talk to them about their careers."
He said the training focused on different techniques and warm-up exercises, and included a lot of explaining.
"It was pretty difficult at times," Gardiner admitted. "They wanted to perfect everybody's technique. And you had to be sure to do the exercises right, so as not to hurt yourself."
NHLPA members that attended the camp told the boys that the opportunity to gain access to this level of off-ice training at such a young age is a chance of a lifetime.
In addition to preparing for the exhibition game, the camp included sessions with experts who talked about nutrition, fitness, and mental conditioning and how it all affects a hockey player's ability to excel in the game.
"We even had a course on how to manage your finances," said Gardiner, something most 15-year-olds wouldn't be giving much thought to.
The camp encouraged the youths' families to attend selected sessions, something that Gardiner's parents and brother participated in.
It wasn't only all work and no play during the five-day camp. Midway through the week, the players, coaches and parents ended the day with a dinner cruise around the Toronto Islands, offering them a different view of the downtown skyline, as well as a chance to reminisce over the days' events.
Gardiner was enthusiastic about the final exhibition game, where the teams finally were able to put everything they had learned into practice.
"It was more about skill - lots of passing and skating," explained Gardiner, "more like an All-Star game."
Gardiner, who plays centre, said he got to play six or seven shifts per period.
"They rolled the lines pretty steadily," he said. "I thought I measured up pretty well. Overall, I think I was in pretty good shape compared to the others."
In the fall, Gardiner will be playing hockey in the AAA Midget league with the Saskatoon Contacts.