Three big names from the NHL archives have teamed up to create a comprehensive hockey training facility in Centennial.
Canadian natives and residents Eric Lacroix, David Clarkson and John Mitchell recently opened the Drill House Sports Center at the Family Sports Center, which houses the Avalanche Training Complex.
Lacroix, son of legendary Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix, also created Lacroix Hockey – a hockey-specific advisory entity located one floor above the 8,000 square foot training complex that sits on the south end of the rink is Family Sports.
“We merged the two ideas,” Lacroix said. “Lacroix Hockey advises families in the muddy waters of youth hockey, whether they are 10 or 18 years old. I just feel like there’s a niche there with sitting with parents. Each child has their own path. And we will also have charity functions — some events through Lacroix Hockey to honor my father’s legacy.
“It’s something I wanted to do, and David and John wanted to work out. Now it’s more accessible for kids to improve.
Drill House, which buys ice time from Family Sports, has its own locker room, a 100-foot-long strip of artificial turf, three stickhandling and shooting bays (two with synthetic ice for accommodate skates), as well as free weights, squat racks, and the same kBox and Keizer machines used by most NHL teams. The facility will also soon include a recovery/physiotherapy room, as well as a video room.
Mitchell, who wrapped up his 548-game NHL career with the Avalanche in 2017, has coached with the triple-A Colorado Thunderbirds in recent years. He and Clarkson, along with the ACES Athletic Academy in Littleton, acquired a franchise from Canadian company Okanagan Hockey. Colorado’s first-team Okanagan will be under 14 and train at Drill House with other youth organizations, including the Thunderbirds, double-A Arapahoe Warriors and Team Colorado Women’s Team.
“I helped coach some kids over the summer, and they practice here at 10 a.m., then skate at this rink at 3 p.m., then get treatment somewhere else at 7 p.m. All day is busy and they’ I travel everywhere,” said Mitchell, 37. “So we really wanted to create a one-stop shop where you train, skate, get advice, strength training and recovery.
Drill House is a therapeutic adventure for Lacroix, Mitchell and Clarkson, the latter having moved to Castle Pines after wrapping up a 570-game NHL career in Columbus. Clarkson, 38, has been heavily involved with the Thunderbirds but is now thrilled to bring the Okanagan model to Colorado – a model that focuses on off-ice training.
“I need that. Hockey is part of my life and teaching kids is what I love,” said Clarkson, who is also the Florida Panthers’ player development coach. need and I feed on it. It’s important to stay active, connected and give back.
Drill House includes Jason Kelly, co-owner and director of fitness, and Mikey Garrity, lead trainer and instructor. Former NHL players Ken Klee and Derek Armstrong will also be in attendance.
Clarkson said no young hockey player will be nurtured by someone without significant NHL experience. Scott Masters, a former Panthers, Blues and Avalanche video coach, is Lacroix’s right-hand man upstairs.
“We teach what we know. We don’t teach the stock market,” said Lacroix, 50, who played for the Avs from 1996 to 1998. “We teach hockey, and then we have the right coaches in Mikey and Jason.”
Drill House has already signed summer groups with active players from the NHL, minor leagues, colleges and area juniors. Avs captain Gabe Landeskog, who is recovering from knee surgery, practiced at the facility last week while the NHL club was on the road.
It won’t be uncommon for a 12-year-old or a 40-year-old beer league skater to train alongside someone like Landeskog.
“For me, a recreational kid who wants to play travel and wants to work in the summer, that’s great. It’s just as rewarding,” Lacroix said. “Of course you want to work with the kid who wants to go to the NHL or to college or play in the juniors, of course it’s fun. This is what we do. But it’s also fun to have a recreational kid because their goal is to be on a B team or an A team. We’re adding classes to accommodate everyone.
Drill House/Lacroix Hockey could feel like family. For the Lacroix, yes.
“For me to be here, to use my old man’s name and honor his legacy and make sure he’s not forgotten, so to speak, is important. I need it,” said Eric Lacroix.
For more information, visit the Drill House website at drillhousesportscenter.com.