Last month, APTN debuted an excellent new documentary series from Nish Media called Skindigenous. Now Nish returns to APTN with the sixth season of Hit the Ice.
This 15-episode season of Hit the Ice, returning Saturday at noon ET on APTN, once again focuses on Indigenous midget and junior hockey players from across the country. The goal of these 16- to 18-year-olds?Â To showcase their skills in front of scouts from the Canadian Hockey League and U.S. universities in hopes of landing a spot on one of those teams. The squad’s head coach?Â Ex-NHL coach and player John Chabotâ€”a member of the Kitigan Zibi First Nationâ€”who played with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, coached and assistant-coached for the New York Islanders and coached in the QMJHL.
Saturday’s return catches up with players as they undertake the first of a gruellingÂ 14-day training camp at the Jonathan Toews Community Centre in Winnipeg. The open tryouts attract boys from across the country, including Tobias Commanda-Odjick, Cody Savey, Taylor Redmond and Corbin Mariash.
As for Chabot and his team of coaches, theirÂ aim is to get the players out of their comfort zone and see how they react. What’s supposed to be a light skate gets serious pretty quickly as the coaches lay down ground rules that set the tone for the rest of the day.
Hit the Ice is not only an opportunity for Indigenous youths to snag a place on a Canadian Hockey League team or at a U.S. universityÂ but the chance for viewers to gain some real insight into what it takes to be a hockey player in this country. It was a real education for this former summer soccer player to see the extensive drills, long hours and off-ice conditioning needed to break into an elite team. Kudos to the producers for including the office discussion between the coaches; their explanation and breakdown of not only the practices themselves but individual players’ strengths made for one heck of a great first of 15 episodes.
Hit the Ice airs Saturdays at noon ET on APTN.
Images courtesy of Jeff Griffin.