Quebec made men’s hockey history at the Canada Games in Red Deer, winning gold against Ontario. Quebec’s last gold medal dated back to 1987. In the second week of the Games, the women’s team also made it to the final, winning silver after losing against the home team.
Team Quebec’s performances can be attributed to their players’ high level of fundamental skills, such as speed and dexterity, which are cultivated through innovative programs in the province at the grassroots and elite levels.
Grassroots level: Skills before competition
For over 30 years, Hockey Québec has chosen to invest in developing young hockey players’ skills and enjoyment of the game through a program called MAHG (Méthode d’apprentissage de hockey sur glace). What’s special about the MAHG program is that each and every kid in the province must complete 20 on-ice sessions before they can play a single league game. And that is unique.
Elite level: Building well-rounded athletes, not just hockey players
Quebec’s performance in hockey at the Canada Games is also the result of its elite “Building an Athlete” program.
When you aim to build athletes rather than just hockey players, you help them develop more than their hockey skills. You also commit to helping players improve various components, such as their overall athletic abilities, nutrition, mental game, and physical conditioning.
To quote Yves Archambault, Quebec Regional Director, Member Engagement for Hockey Canada:
The MAHG’s focus on skills, speed, and small-area games is also being applied to older players (Pee Wee and up). Skill-focused coaches are becoming more common and coach education is putting more emphasis on teaching fundamental skills. Hockey Canada’s high-performance program requirements are also communicated to all players, coaches, and administrators. Hockey Québec is aware that hockey has evolved into a fast-paced, creative sport that requires a high level of technical and physical abilities.”
The men’s and women’s hockey finals at the Canada Games demonstrate the quality of the athletes Hockey Québec has been developing for years through programs that focus on physical literacy.