Heinz's school gets kids hooked on hockey

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Herald Stout got hooked on hockey in an unorthodox way -- by watching his young daughter.

Initially hesitant to learn a new sport after age 40, Stout relented and picked up a pair of skates and a stick.

"It looked like so much fun," Stout, 45, said. "I started in the C League. As I improved, I got drafted into the B League. But I enjoyed all the people in C League, and they didn't have enough goalies."

Stout plays goalie so he can play in Steamboat's adult C League and he skates in the B League.

On Tuesday, Stout was listening to instruction and trying to stop slap shots from players more than 20 years his junior on the second day of the Rick Heinz Hockey School.

The camp for goalies and players continues through Friday at Howelsen Ice Arena.

"Mostly, it is all skill development," instructor Brent Scott said.

The camp includes five instructors for 33 skaters, an excellent ratio for on-ice and off-ice development. Scott spent 14 years playing minor league hockey and two as a professional coach in the Canadian Hockey League.

Scott, who's from Calgary, has been in Steamboat for instructional camps in previous years, and he looks forward to spending the week in Northwest Colorado and seeing the same skaters return.

"A lot of the kids here have gotten a lot better," Scott said. "They have picked up the game."

The Rick Heinz Hockey School employs players of all levels, including professionals who spend the offseason working at camps. In addition to Scott, several of the other instructors in Steamboat have played college or minor-league hockey.

Members of the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team also were on the ice Tuesday, helping run stations and taking shots at the goalies.

Steamboat players aren't the only ones in town this week.

Chase Crawford, 9, of Denver, came up for the clinic. He has been playing hockey for three years.

"I wasn't too good at being a player, I guess," Crawford said, citing his reason for being a goalie, but that doesn't mean he is a terrible skater. "Goalies don't have to be the fastest, but they have to be the best."

Crawford hopped off the bench in full pads and demonstrated two stances he has been working on this week -- the butterfly and half-butterfly.

Scott laughed. Coaching professionally doesn't compare to teaching children.

"After five days, seeing what they learn is great," he added. "You can motivate them easy because of their love of the game."

Stout is a testament to the addicting nature of hockey. Putting on pads and learning a new sport can be tough no matter a person's age, but there's a reason why people do it.

"On a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the NHL, we are probably a 0.3," Stout said. "But we probably have more fun."

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