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Published: Tuesday, 8/21/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Camp gives players chance to get better during summer

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Former Toledo Storm player Nick Parillo has turned his post-playing career into becoming a youth power skating instructional coach. Former Toledo Storm player Nick Parillo has turned his post-playing career into becoming a youth power skating instructional coach.
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With temperatures soaring into the 90s for much of the summer, it's hard to picture hockey players working on power-skating skills inside a chilly ice arena.

For much of the last 10 weeks a former Toledo pro hockey player joined forces with the Walleye's current captain to teach a group of elite, young players the fundamentals of the game.

Former Storm player Nick Parillo invited Walleye forward Kyle Rogers to teach at his hockey clinics this summer.

Parillo, who is the founder and owner of Hockey Player Development, said his passion for the sport thrives even during the summer months.

"I've always enjoyed working with kids. After I stopped playing this was something that made a lot of sense," he said.

Parillo, who played the third most games in Storm history, said he ran his first clinic during the summer months after his first pro season in Toledo in 2002.

"But it didn't really become a business until I retired," he said.

Parillo operates the camps and clinics at Team Toledo Ice House in West Toledo and at Tam-O-Shanter in Sylvania.

"We work with people ages 3 to 30 years old," said Parillo, who retired in 2007 after his six-year pro career ended due to a back injury.

Toledo Walleye player Kyle Rogers, left, helped during the 10-week skating camp. Toledo Walleye player Kyle Rogers, left, helped during the 10-week skating camp.
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Parillo invited Rogers to help him with a program aimed at upper echelon players ages 14 to 20 during a 10-week clinic. Rogers said he jumped at the chance.

"I love to help kids develop and reach their goals," Rogers said. "I want to help them get focused and learn the fundamentals."

Rogers, who also helped teach the younger skaters, said he was impressed with the older group.

"I wasn't sure what to expect but the talent here is great," Rogers said. "The kids here are really good."

Most of the 24 players compete at the junior or midget level during the season. They practiced twice a week on the ice. The clinic also included work in the weight room.

The emphasis was working on the basic building block of the sport -- skating -- with a goal to build conditioning.

"I specialize in power skating skills and getting strong on your skates," Parillo said. "It's constantly working on aerobic capacity."

He said a typical shift for a player in a game lasts about 45 seconds.

"You need to be able to sprint on the ice and maintain that high level for 45 seconds," he said. "Most players are good for 25 to 30 seconds. Most players don't know what it is like to be in shape."

He said some have a natural knack for skating.

"But most have to work at it," Parillo said. "It's a very hard skill to acquire. Skating is anything but natural. It's going against the grain."

Rogers, who will enter his third full season with the Walleye, said working on his skating skills helped him earn a spot with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League at the start of his pro career in 2008-09.

"The basics of hockey is skating ability," Rogers said. "It's something every player has to think about. It's quick movement. It's about being able to get up to speed in a couple of strides."

Rogers also was joined by Walleye teammate Kyle Page. The pair played in two games last week that provided a cap to the camp.

"It was great. There was a little competition. The kids were hitting," Rogers said.

Parillo said another former Storm player also serves as an on-ice instructor. Iain Duncan, who played in the NHL, also teaches at Hockey Player Development.

"Just because you play pro hockey does not mean you can instruct," Parillo said. "It took me a long time and I was surrounded by great guys like Iain Duncan."

Parillo said he modeled his new 10-week program after a similar one run by USA Hockey, the country's top development organization.

"They retain more when you're not cramming everything in during one week," he said.

Parillo said Grant Meyer, a 16-year-old from Genoa, opened some eyes at the camp. Meyer plays for the Cleveland Barons midget team.

"He is an up and coming guy," Parillo said.

Northview graduate Tyler Pilmore, who plays for the club team at Ohio University, also has a bright future, according to Parillo.

"He worked his butt off and I'm sure he will play pro hockey someday -- possibly with the Walleye," Parillo said.

He said the campers particularly enjoyed learning from the Walleye captain.

"He's a great guy and the kids looked up to him," Parillo said.

Rogers said the play was crisp at the scrimmage with "tic-tac-toe passing."

"I was impressed," he said. "In the future I would love to do this. After you're done playing, you can't just be done with hockey."

Parillo said he hopes to have more Walleye players involved in his program.

"We had great feedback and great results at the end of the summer here," he said.

Contact Mark Monroe at: MMonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.



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