Makaric Keeping CK’s Top Hockey Players Sharp In Windsor

Brett Brochu (London Knights), Deni Goure (Owen Sound Attack), Kyle Makaric, Dane Fox (Nurnberg Ice Tigers), and Beau Depencer (Hill Academy) at a recent skate

With the shutdown of Chatham-Kent’s arenas, the areas top hockey players had to look elsewhere for ice in order to keep their skills sharp.

Enter former Chatham Maroons head coach Kyle Makaric.

“With the current restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus, offseason training looks very different for these hockey players. We have been permitted to skate in Phase 2 and the only rink open down here is Central Park Athletics. They have been great at keeping everything clean and ensuring everyone is fit to skate every time we show up.”

Makaric was the coach of the Chatham Maroons until midseason this year, and formerly with the Windsor ‘AAA’ program, has had great success teaching and promoting local athletes.

Chatham-Kent hockey players training with Makaric this offseason included Seth Griffith, Dane Fox, Kyle Hope, Brett Brochu, Deni Goure, Brennan Feasey, Lucas Vanroboys, Grayson Ladd, Dylan Schives, Brady Stonehouse, Ryan Gagner, and Beau Depencier.

“Despite these guidelines this hasn’t stopped guys from getting on the ice and getting to work.”

The players themselves are as thankful to Makaric for providing the skills sessions, as he was for the opportunity to get back on the ice doing what he loves.

“The skates we’ve been doing with Kyle have been really good, we’ve been doing some good drills that’s been helping me get back up to speed,” said Grande Point’s Deni Goure who recently finished his rookie OHL season with the Owen Sound Attack. “It’s been tough getting some ice during COVID so this has been good to be able to come to these skates to stay in good shape and to keep getting ready for next season.”

The sessions have been focusing mainly on individual skill development, with players skating twice a week with Makaric since July 7.

“This group goes twice a week and we focus mainly on individual skill development,” said Makaric. “Many types of shots, passes and skating patterns that reflect game scenarios. We work on position specific skills and have them focusing on details needed to be at the top of their game once camps open.”

Makaric sees the value in the various ages in the group, with younger prospects learning from veterans like Griffith, Fox, McEwan, and Hope.

“The training has been effective in preparing me for the season with skating and my skill work,” said Kyle Hope, who will return to play professionally in Denmark this year.

Dane Fox, who will play in Germany’s DEL with the Nurnberg Ice Tigers this year echoed Hope’s response.

“I’ve enjoyed working this summer with Kyle. Even with the pandemic, I feel confident entering next season,” said Fox. “Training in Windsor helps with game-like movements and dekes. I think it’s great for handling the puck while keeping your feet moving and not picking up bad habits.”

The group have been doing Power Edge Pro (PEP) training, which is one of the most valuable skill systems available.

“The skates in Windsor have been terrific and Mak (Makaric) has done a great job orchestrating them,” said OHL alumni, and University of New Brunswick hockey player James McEwan. “Obviously throughout this pandemic there has been a lot of hula hoops to jump through and trying to skate and get ice was one of them. But Mak was nice enough to vouch for us CK guys and get a group of us down there to work on some skill development. It’s always nice to get some of the local guys together and go down and skate together.”

As much as the younger players have appreciated skating and learning from veterans and pros like Griffith, Fox, Hope, and McEwan, the older players have also found it exciting to see some of Chatham-Kent’s budding stars.

“It’s always nice to see the next string of local talent and see what kind of player they are,” McEwan said of prospects like Goure, Gagner, and Depencier.

“And I’m sure they appreciate us older guys asking them to come out and skate too.”

Makaric, who also serves as an assistant coach with the University of Windsor Lancers men’s hockey team, has been impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm of this group of players, who has faithfully made the trip from Chatham-Kent to Windsor all summer.

“The one thing I will say about this  group is how willing they are to get better each session. They drive 45 minutes to an hour a few days a week and when they get here they just work. It all stems from the culture created by the older guys,” Makaric said.

“They treat every rep with the intensity and attention to detail that is needed to be an elite player. It’s a great example for the younger guys playing Major junior, or Junior B to follow and it makes the sessions very rewarding for them when they push each other and push themselves.”

With the opportunity to improve this offseason under the tutelage of Makaric, and with Chatham-Kent’s top players mutually pushing each other, it looks like CK’s men’s hockey talents will hit the ice this Fall without missing a stride.

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