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Emmetts host hockey camp

DULUTH - Derek Nesbitt stood just outside the crease.

It's not an unfamiliar spot for the Gwinnett Gladiator forward who scored 69 points in 71 games last season. But this time, the goalie barely came to Nesbitt's waist.

Nesbitt was offering instruction to the pint-sized netminder as part of the Pro Tech Hockey camp that runs all this week at the IceForum in Duluth. Nesbitt has been teaching at offseason hockey camps for the last six or seven years and this summer he's helping out the Emmett family.

Rick Emmett, the Gladiators veteran defenseman, his father Jim and uncle Steve have been offering hockey camps in Gwinnett for the last three years. Their company, Pro Tech, has been teaching kids hockey fundamentals for many more years than that, but since Emmett started playing for the Gladiators, they incorporated Gwinnett into the schedule.

"Controlled chaos we call it," Rick Emmett said with a laugh before getting serious about what the camp does for local youth players. "We wanted to get in here and bring a program that we really believe in.

"I think kids need a little bit of variety and we wanted to bring our program here because we're confident and think we can help out the kids in this area."

Over 50 kids signed up for the weeklong all-day camp. They spent three hours on the ice each day, working on skating in the morning and puck drills in the afternoon. It also included dry-land training and classroom chalk talk.

"We saw an opportunity and the IceForum was nice enough to let us in and give us a chance," Emmett said. "Here we are in our third year and two of the three years have been sold out. It's been pretty good for us so far."

Emmett was able to take advantage of the fact that several Gladiators chose to stick around Gwinnett for the summer. While Nesbitt was working with a couple young goalies Tuesday afternoon, Jon Awe and Josh Bennett were outside the IceForum playing street ball hockey with another group of players. The Gladiators equipment manager, Patrick Houlihan, was also out on the ice Tuesday giving instruction.

"It's good for people to see the Gladiators with how strongly the team is tied to the community," Emmett said. "The guys enjoy doing it and it's a good fit for everybody.

"It's nice to have a couple guys come and it really helps with the quality of the camp."

Bennett lives here with his wife, while Awe and Nesbitt enjoyed the area enough to stay rather than returning home. Both are training at QST in preparation for next season, but were happy to lend a hand with the Emmetts' camp.

They probably would have been doing something similar at home anyway. Most players will coach at hockey camps or conduct private lessons (as Nesbitt is also doing locally) while training in the offseason.

"I've been working camps since I was probably like 14 years old, whether it was just pushing pucks around for older guys or whatever," said Nesbitt, who is a free agent weighing his options after a successful rookie season. "Since I'm here, I thought I might as well help (Emmett) out."

Jim and Steve Emmett run Pro Tech camps all year long and Rick Emmett joins them during the summer. The age range at this week's camp is vast, from Rick Emmett's youngest son, 5-year-old Payton, to 16 year olds.

"We really key on power skating," Emmett said. "The NHL game all we talk about now is the speed of the game. Skating is the most important thing in the game of hockey right now. That's something our camp has always focused on, before the rule changes and now."

On the Web: www.protechhockey.com.