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Canucks hone skills at Richmond rink
For young hockey-starved fans, it was like Christmas in August. They excitedly bounced around outside a Richmond Ice Centre rink Friday, occasionally calling out "Bieksa!" when the star NHL player skated past.
The Vancouver Canucks defenceman flashed them a few smiles, flicking pucks in their direction before getting down to business.
Joining him on the ice for a conditioning session with skating coach Derek Popke were Jason Garrison, Chris Higgins and Dale Weise.
Popke said more and more NHL players are moving away from group training sessions and moving to individual or small group instruction to hone their skills. He began working with Garrison, once a member of the Richmond Sockeyes, and other players have since come on board.
"They want to use the off-season to improve their individual skills leading into camp," he said. "If you can give them a little detail on something that will give them that extra inch to get ahead of the competition in the league, that's what they come here for."
The Canucks' Prospects Training Camp and the Young Stars Classic Tournament begins Sept. 4 in Penticton, while veterans report to Rogers Arena Sept. 11.
The team's first preseason game is Sept. 16, while the regular season begins Oct. 3 in San Jose against the Sharks.