The facility, located at a warehouse at 10-12 46th Road, began offering clinics at the end of February. Coach Ladislav Majkus said the staff wanted to work out the kinks of running the first-of-its-kind training facility in New York City before spreading the word.
“We were trying to be hidden as long as possible,” Majkus said. “We had almost 380 people going through the door to our clinics and that’s just the players.”
L.I.C.-ICE offers personalized and team-focused hockey training for hockey players as young as 6-years-old. Each class is capped at 10 students and the eight coaches conduct off-ice and on-ice training. Majkus said off-ice training is important for developing players to improve their agility and stability. The training practiced at L.I.C.-ICE resembles Crossfit but the students do not use weights.
“Any sport is a very complex thing,” Majkus said. “You have to become an athlete and have the ability to before you can do anything else. Kids can challenge themselves and move themselves to be better athletes.”
The coaches at the facility want to duplicate the training that NHL players go through and provide children with an alternative to the “sad” state of a typical gym class, he said.
The facility is equipped with a 2,300-square-foot ice rink and a 1,600-square-foot gym featuring free weights, squat racks, stationary bikes, bosu balls and more. The two locker rooms measure 110 square feet each.
The programs are designed by Coach Jimmy Iucci, a well-respected coach in the travel, high school, junior and pro levels. The six-week sessions consist of three practices for two hours a week. They are split between one hour on-ice training and 45-minute off-ice training sessions.
“The sports is about developing an athlete, not just someone who knows who to skate or score a goal,” Majkus said. “That only gets you so far.”
Though parents have been asking about learn-to-skate program, the coaches are focused on sharpening the skills of existing hockey players. Majkus said the staff is not yet equipped to handle a program like this just yet.
Majkus, who has 10 years of coaching experience overseas and the United States, came to America three years ago from the Czech Republic. He acted as assistant coach and head coach of the Czech Republic’s premier league, HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga, and currently coaches the North Park Hockey Association’s Peewee A-Team.
Majkus is also a personal coach to several NHL players including Tomas Fleischmann of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The process of finding a space and developing the programs took about a year, he said, and Long Island City was chosen as the location because it is centrally located and offers perks for parents, who sometimes have to wait three hours before picking up their kids.
The facility is three blocks from public transportation and near restaurants on Vernon Boulevard. It gives parents a “chance to decompress” and even take a trip into Manhattan while they wait, Majkus said.
Parents and kids from as far as Yonkers, Connecticut and Long Island have come seeking lessons and the coaches will also bring in NHL players to play with students and give them advice. Majkus said the coaches strive to provide a fun and educational experience so the students ask their parents to bring them back, not the other way around.
“We don’t want to burn them out,” Majkus said. “You want them to ask to come back. [We’ve had a] huge accomplishment [in that] parents are amazed that kids are asking to be brought back.”