Through The Eyes of a Mountain
By Kyle Mountain
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania native and Malvern Prep’s Kyle Mountain, currently plays for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. He’s played junior hockey for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs of the EJHL. Kyle was an attendee of Philadelphia Flyers Prospect Camp earlier this summer. He reflects on his time at camp with the organization.
Photo credit to Chicks Who Give a Puck
One of the reasons I love hockey is because of the places it has taken me. I’ve seen some amazing cities, met some amazing people , and had some amazing opportunities because of hockey.
But one of the most significant opportunities I’ve had was being invited to the Philadelphia Flyers Prospect Camp this past summer. Of course, being invited to any prospect camp would’ve been great, but to be invited to my favorite team’s camp – the team I’ve been cheering for since I was a little kid – was a pretty amazing feeling.
I knew that preparing for this camp would be really tough – there’s a reason the Flyers are a hard-nosed, gritty, physical team. Their off-ice conditioning is amongst the most intense and demanding in the league, but that’s what makes them successful. With about two weeks left of training before camp I received a call from Jim McCrossin, the Flyers Strength and Conditioning coach. He explained to me the plans and expectations of the off-ice training and testing. He said it would be hard but fair, and that the program places a big emphasis on strength and conditioning. With that in mind I trained accordingly for the next two weeks, hoping I’d be ready for whatever they threw at me.
Upon arriving in Voorhees, NJ, I was introduced to the players and staff, and the night we got there we were taken to the track for the “Cooper Test.”
If you don’t know what the Cooper Test is, consider yourself lucky.
The Cooper Test is when you run as far as you can in 12 minutes. It’s also worth mentioning that camp took place during the hottest week of the summer, with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees all week. So filled with apprehension and dread, we went to the track and ran the Cooper Test – what a great way to start off the week. The following morning we did an on-ice wind-gate test to determine out blood lactate levels as well as our anaerobic capacity and recovery time. We went in groups of three and the drill was simple: we’d start on the goal line, go to the far blue line, go back to the red line, go all the way to the far goal line, then back to the goal line we started at. The catch was that we had to do it three times with 90 seconds of rest in-between sets. It’s an extremely hard test but it’s also very revealing. They were able to determine how quick we were able to recover as well as how consistent (or inconsistent) our times were as we got more and more fatigued. Also, they took blood samples after each set to determine how well our bodies are able to produce and spread blood as we get fatigued. Like I said, the Flyers are second-to-none when it comes to conditioning.
The next day we finally got to play some hockey. The group was split into two teams – Orange and Black. Each morning one team would work with the Flyers skating coach while the other group did a flow practice, and after these practices we would scrimmage. I was able to learn a lot during these scrimmages because of the variety of players I was playing with and against.
Some were major junior players, some were college players, some were AHL players; some younger and some much older. I was able to use these games as somewhat of a measuring stick to see how I did against these different players and how I needed to improve. I’ve used those games as learning tools to this day and they’ve helped me become a much better player.
Amid all the workouts, fitness tests, lectures and on-ice training and competing, there was some time for fun. We played a lot of softball during the week so we’d be prepared for our big game in Stone Harbor.
It was fun to be able to hang with the guys away from the rink and playing softball was a great way to loosen up and get to know guys. It was determined in a hurry that most of us would be better off sticking to hockey, and as you can imagine, it was fun to see some guys struggle at the plate and in the outfield.
As good a goalie as Sergei Bobrovsky is, he might be the worst softball player you’ve ever seen. Watching him play was great for a good laugh, however we couldn’t make fun of him because he didn’t understand any english whatsoever, so I’m not sure if he even knew how bad he was despite our efforts to communicate it with him.
Overall the camp was great – it was really challenging but it was also a lot of fun. I can’t speak highly enough about the Flyers’ staff, from the trainers to the members of the front-office.
I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have been able to attend the camp and I hope I’ll be lucky enough to attend more camps like it in the future.