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Pro Shop to Pro?

Pro Shop to Pro?

All kids love coming to summer camp.  When Scott Hartnell was training for the NHL he spent his summers at MN Hockey Camps.  Now he and his wife run the Hartnelldown Foundation that pays for 40+ kids to come and play at MHC every year.  Scott Hartnell just signed to play with the Nashville Predators.

He has personally changed Ayo Adeniye’s life; 4 years ago, Ayo’s coach set him up with the Hartnell Down Foundation. Ayo has loved every second of it. 

Ayo has played hockey since he was 3 years’ old, he tried playing lacrosse but he just didn’t feel the same passion that he has for hockey.

“Some people say the I’m playing the wrong sport,” implying the 6’5” young man should be out playing basketball but Ayo is now 18 and will be playing for the Columbus Ice Hockey Club this upcoming season where he must decide what the next step in his hockey career will be whether its going pro or seeking a Division 1 scholarship.

Ayo now works in the MHC Pro Shop to pay for the tuition of camp and to learn how to manage a job and camp.  Ayo said that this was his first real job and that working there has added another level of work ethic that he never could have imagined in addition to all his daily work outs.

Ayo plans to continue to coming to camp and work in the pro shop until his hockey career is over. 

 All of this was made possible by MHC and Hartnelldown Foundation. Donations are always welcomed at http://hartnelldown.com/site/donate/

Never One Path

Never One Path

Just South of Minnewawa Lodge­­––located in the small town of Nisswa, Minnesota––you will find the city of Dodge Center, Minnesota.  Home of the recognizable camp counselor, Mark Huber. Mark is on his fifth year as a counselor here at Minnesota Hockey Camps. He started working at the camp back in 2011 when he was just entering college at the age of 21. After taking a couple of summers off, he’s back in action here at camp, making the kids daily experience’s more enjoyable.

 Mark grew up playing hockey for youth teams around his small town.  Many of Mark’s hockey influences come from his mother’s side. Her family lived in White Bear Lake, MN and all four of her brothers played college hockey, which made their family holidays revolve around playing hockey. He played for a county team, since his high school Triton High School was too small to have a team of their own.  Mark received numerous honors and awards throughout his high school career, such as the High School Hobey Baker in 2007, and was named the senior captain of his team.

 After graduating high school in 2007, Mark wanted to take his skills to the next level but he wasn’t positive what was going to be offered to him. “I didn’t know a lot about the process of playing junior hockey, then going to college,” Mark recalls. That summer was spent finding out what organization was right for him. “Every weekend I was trying out for a new team. It was a crazy summer, let’s just say that.” He tried out for six teams (three in the NAHL and 3 in the MnJHL) and was cut from all of them. Finally, an opportunity to play led him to a trip to Las Vegas for a try-out with the Stars in the Western States Hockey League and a spot on their roster. As he was packing his car to drive to Nevada, the team folded because of a lack of finances. Mark however caught a break with a juniors team in Minnesota. They offered him a three-day tryout and he made the most of it, getting a second chance to play on a team called the St. Paul Lakers.

 Mark’s next goal was to play college hockey. Two colleges were interested in 2009 after recruiters saw him at the MnJHL Christmas Showcase. He eventually went with St. Mary’s University on an academic scholarship but soon realized his expectations weren’t being met when it came to the skill level offered at the University. He explains, “At the time I thought they were recruiting me for a Varsity spot but actually had recruited 50 players for 28 spots. It was disheartening. I still had to try out for the team and I didn’t know that coming in.” Mark made the 28-man roster but was placed on the Junior Varsity. Having never dressed or played on the Varsity he ended the season playing 13 games on Junior Varsity with 11 points. “I loved the campus and the classroom atmosphere, but I didn’t want to be a JV player for four years.”

After he completed his freshman year with St. Mary’s, Mark made the decision to move from D-III NCAA to D-I ACHA hockey at Iowa State University. It proved to be the best thing he could have done for his college career. “It wasn’t a hard decision to make,” he says “it was all about finding my fit.” He moved from regular scratches early in the season to the first line, landing power play time with the Cyclones. Mark says the biggest benefit of Iowa State came from its size – there were more opportunities. “We’re playing 50 games at Iowa State instead of 25 games and the stands were filled with fans at every home game. I traveled a lot more than I did with St. Mary’s.” He noted that players in club hockey have skills comparable to the D-III level “People don’t know a lot about ACHA hockey and how much talent there is in that league.” Mark Said.

Huber not only led the Cyclones with an “A” on his jersey in 2012-13, he ended up one of Iowa State’s leading scorers, finishing third in points with 29 on the strength of 11 goals and a team-leading 18 assists. Huber achieved it while only playing occasionally on the power play, as he was instead used regularly on the penalty kill. This helped establish himself as an impact player and as one of the team’s top point getters as a junior.

After Mark graduated college in 2014, he found his way to Williston, ND to work in the oil field which was booming at the time.  He worked as a Well-head technician which was a hard-blue collar job that pushed Mark each day to make sure his machines and co-workers were running safe and smoothly.  Mark however had other plans about what he wanted to do in his future, and it was quite the opposite of what he was currently doing in the oil fields. 

 Mark wished to pursue a career in acting, which meant it was time to pack his bags, and head to Virginia Beach, Virginia to get his newest interest started.  Mark has now been featured in the television show House of Cards, as well as a recurring role in Fox News channel “Legend & Lies.”  Getting into the show business is tough but Mark seems to be doing just fine for a hobby that he picked up out of the blue.  He plans to further his acting career little by little, while having fun doing so. He even has a page on the popular app IMDb, so if you would like to learn a little more about his acting career, then that is a great place to start.

 It just goes to show that you don’t have to be an NHL player to be special in our books; we focus on developing great people.  You never know where life will take you, whether it be to the oil fields of North Dakota, to the beaches of Virginia, our success stories all started at Minnesota Hockey Camps.  We pride ourselves on building outstanding citizens, and Mark Huber could not be a better example of that.


A Palmer Moose

A Palmer Moose

A car, two planes, and a van sounds like a lot, but that’s what it takes for a nine-plus hour trip to get Keith Armstrong III from Palmer, Alaska, to Minnesota Hockey Camps. Palmer is a town of about 7,000 people, and like most towns that size anywhere in Alaska, everyone knows everyone. In Keith’s case this is even more so since he can trace his parents’ families back to being founding members of the town.

This is Keith’s first summer at MHC, but he has fully embraced the challenge, spending the first four weeks of the summer working on himself and his game. Keith is training at MHC after his coach, Steve MacSwain, sent him to the same place where he himself had been a camper – Minnesota Hockey Camps. 

Along with the normal necessities everyone brings to camp, Keith had a special envelope to bring with him; an 8”x10” photo for MHC’s Wall of Fame in The Gym. “My coach gave me a picture of himself and said, ‘Give this to Chuck Grillo for me,’ so I put it into an envelope and put it in a safe place in my bag.” 

The picture of Steve MacSwain is one the MHC family has wanted for a long time. Steve has played all over the world, including the University of Minnesota, Italy, the Swiss-A league, and the WCHL. He has also coached in some of those leagues, including for the WCHL’s team in Anchorage.

Keith started skating at the age of five, but his first time on the ice wasn’t the greatest. “I was crying the whole time I was out there.” When asked why, he said, “They were figure skates. The next time on the ice I had hockey skates.” 

The MTA Events Center is home to the Palmer Ice Arena where Keith plays.​ Having an indoor​ ice rink in a small town (so small in fact, the biggest news for five days was that a KFC is opening next year) is a great luxury to have, especially when the drive to the next nearest rink in Anchorage would take an hour. 

Keith’s dad grew up loving hockey and wishing he could play, but he didn’t have the opportunity. So given the chance to get his son involved early in life, he was glad to take it. Keith shared that when he was starting out, “My dad was like, ‘Yeah, this is going to be a long time thing.’” 

It turned out to be a true statement, with Keith playing ​every year since that day in Palmer​, except for one when his town had no U16 team. Now, Keith is 17 and getting ready to start his senior year at Palmer High School where he’ll play for his school’s team, the Palmer Moose.