Seeing the growth of youth hockey over the past six years is what Total Ice Training Centre owner Tyrel Lucas considers his biggest reward.
Tyrel and his wife, Kayla, opened the unique facility — dedicated to training and conditioning hockey players of all levels, as well as other athletes — in the spring of 2012.
Tyrel had been enjoying a successful playing career spanning the BC Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, university and semi-pro in the Central Hockey League, but a serious ankle injury forced him to put a halt on his playing career.
And with a young family taking shape in Tyrel’s hometown of Williams Lake with his wife, Kayla, the duo decided to continue on with their passion for the game by opening what Tyrel called a “dream” facility in the lakecity.
The three-on-three-sized ice rink, plus state-of-the-art training facility, has been evolving since and has seen many local athletes pass through its doors and on to success in the sport, including playing at the junior and university levels following their respective minor hockey careers.
“That’s probably been the coolest part,” Tyrel said. “Seeing those kids grow up. Some of these players were just little kids when I opened and now they’re playing junior and major midget.”
Tyrel and Kayla offer various hockey programs at Total Ice for players of any age, along with specialized coaching, conditioning and training for those wanting to take their game to the next level.
“Seeing the results of the players has been the most rewarding,” he said.
Total Ice partnered with the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association in 2015 to offer up ice time for the association’s initiation and novice programs, and it’s a relationship that Tyrel said has helped give young players a running start in the sport.
“[WLMHA president] Todd Isnardy, he’s been a big supporter of that and we’ve seen the benefits of it,” Tyrel said. “We’re just trying to make the sport better for everyone. We’re not just focusing on the top-end players, we’re training all the kids to be better.”
One thing he’s seen in Williams Lake that other minor hockey associations in the North Central haven’t been able to achieve, is a growth in enrolment numbers.
“Most of the associations in the north are on the decline,” he said. “We’re going up.”
As just one example, Tyrel said 40 players tried out for this year’s atom development team — up from around 25 in previous years.
“It shows we’ve got kids at that level hungry to play competitive hockey,” he said.
With the facility now available to players year round, and Total Ice offering hockey schools during the summer, as well as three-on-three leagues in the spring, Tyrel said he’s seen more players start taking advantage of the opportunity.
“I grew up here and we didn’t have that,” he said. “You’re off those summer months and when you go to those camps in the fall you’re really fighting for a spot. But now, right from the ground up, we’ve got a great partnership with the WLMHA.”
All of the association’s rep teams visit the facility once a week for dry land training, and the initiation division is run entirely out of Total Ice. The associations’ novice division, meanwhile, sees two novice teams a week play at the facility.
“We try to help the coaches right from the ground up with coaching mentorship programs to get all their skills up and to refresh them on everything,” he said.
Tyrel added Total Ice’s evolution has been steady over the years, and staying up to date on current training and conditioning instruction, is something they pride themselves on.
“We’re staying current with on-ice skill development and programs for everyone,” he said. “And we’ve got something to offer everyone.”
They offer private lessons, several hockey camps throughout the year, skills clinics, goaltender training, introduction to hockey camps and have their own state-of-the-art skating treadmill to help players improve their skating. Total Ice also plays host to various men’s and ladies’ three-on-three leagues throughout the year.
Off the ice, Tyrel and Kayla offer what they call Total Strength and Conditioning Programs — structured fitness group classes, along with group fitness classes for the general public.
Total Ice Training Center is located at 4535 Cattle Drive off Mackenzie Avenue.