The U20 academy team in Minnesota
Thursday, 09. November 2023 |
The U20 academy team in Minnesota"Good teams, good opponents, good games - that's what we're looking for."// #NextLevelDas U20 Akademieteam der Red Bull Eishockey Akademie war vom 30. Oktober bis zum 7. November beim 2023 IIS International Invitational Showcase in Minnesota, USA.
This trip gave the players the opportunity to prove themselves at international level and gain valuable experience.
"It was a cool experience for the guys and also a highlight of my coaching career since I've been a coach at the Red Bull Ice Hockey Academy," said Manuel Latusa, former EC Red Bull Salzburg professional and Head Coach of the U20 AKA. "My team was able to see how hungry the players in the USA are and how hard they work to achieve their goals. It was a great opportunity for us to see what is possible at the highest level."
The challenges that come with such a trip, especially the faster pace of play on the smaller ice surfaces in the USA, put the team to the test. However, they overcame these with flying colors. Latusa praised the team's ability to adapt quickly to the change in pace and compete at a high level. "At the first training session, a few players were very close to the boards because the ice was smaller," recalls Latusa. "But the lads were then able to adapt very quickly and put in an impressive performance."
The U20 academy team also had the opportunity to attend an NHL game and meet Austrian NHL player Marco Rossi. Another highlight was meeting Thomas Vanek, a former Austrian NHL player, who watched one of their practices, gave motivational words to the team and organized a visit to the Gophers University of Minnesota for the boys. Former Red Bulls pro Ryan Duncan also stopped by and visited the Red Bull Ice Hockey Academy team.
The U20 AKA with Austrian NHL player Marco Rossi at the Xcel Energy Center
Helmut de Raaf, Director of Development at the Red Bull Ice Hockey Academy, emphasized how important such trips are for the players' development: "The tournament in Minnesota is a big highlight for our players. Many of them have never been to the USA before and were able to experience North American ice hockey and the different culture up close. They will certainly remember this experience for the rest of their lives.
For de Raaf, the trip was also a valuable opportunity to give the players new stimuli and create highlights. "Good teams, good opponents, good games - that's what we're looking for. And we managed to offer all of that to the U20 AKA in one intensive week."
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