Hal Gill And AJ Mleczko Hosting Hockey Camp Next Week
David Creed •
AJ Mleczko and Hal Gill both had very accomplished hockey careers. Mleczko, a Nantucket native, was a key player for the USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, which won a gold medal in 1998 and a silver in 2002. She is in the New England Women’s Hall of Fame and was the second recipient of the Patty Kazmaier award, which is annually given to the best female college hockey player in the United States.
Gill played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League, including eight with the Boston Bruins, and won a Stanley Cup in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He amassed 184 points in 1,104 NHL games while playing sturdy defense on his team’s back ends.
The two began training together in the mid to late 90s, and now they are joining forces to help island hockey players work on their abilities with a hockey camp that will run from July 25 through July 28.
“Everyone knows hockey is fun right? That is why you play the game, but I feel like there is an underlying skill development that makes it that much more fun,” Gill said. “I get really excited when I start to work on edge work and break down the skating. I love getting down to nitty gritty of skating, using edges, making good hockey players even better skaters. It is fun to teach that because it isn’t all about going out and scoring goals because everyone wants to do that, but the skating stuff, the little minutiae that makes a good player into a great player is what I have been having fun with.”
Mleczko held camps years ago when the rink had first opened its doors. She said the plan is to begin this camp small, see what does and does not work, and evaluate from there. She said this has been in the works for a few years.
“Hal’s fault, totally his fault,” Mleczko joked. “Hal and I have been friends forever and he has been saying how we have to do this. We don’t want to do a full-day camp because we are on Nantucket and people want to be doing other things like going to the beach, so we made it more like a clinic. We are going to evolve based on what people want.”
The camp will have two sessions. Group one will be from 10-11:20 a.m. while group two will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. Groups will be divided by age and talent level. The cost for the four-day camp is $250., equating to just over $60 per session.
Gill said he loves being around the kids because every time he is on the ice with them, he can see them figure things out and show them that it is the little things that matter.
“That is ultimately what AJ and I learned later on,” he said. “Early on in our careers we just went out and played. Now there is so much more skill development and so much skating, it is fun to pass it on to the younger generation and see how good they can become. It is so fun to see these kids get better and teach stuff I didn’t know as a kid. I had to retool my skating ten years into my career.”
He added that the chemistry between the two makes him believe this camp will be a success.
"Our whole worlds have come back together," Gill said. "We are both trying to raise kids, coach hockey, and both trying to broadcast. She has become my go-to. If I have a question about kids or broadcasting or anything going on in my life, it is likely mirrored in her life which is kind of crazy and she can assist me in so many ways. Only fitting we would do a camp together.”
You can register for the camp by clicking here. You can learn more about Mleczko and Gill by clicking here.