Young hockey stars looking to take their game to the next level will no longer have to travel out of the Elk Valley to do so.
The Fernie Academy has launched a new hockey academy, the Fernie Academy Fury, where youth from around the world can come to attend high school and pursue their hockey dreams, simultaneously.
Sparwood’s Daryl Boyle, now a star defenseman on EHC Red Bull München, is an example of a local athlete who was forced to move out of the Valley to pursue a higher calibre of hockey. He and his brother moved to Lethbridge when Boyle was 12-years-old.
“The big push really was to give a higher level of hockey to kids that are from the Elk Valley, and a place that they can play, and stay home,” said Fury head coach, Mike Carlsen.
“A lot of kids in the Elk Valley that have to leave are going five, six hours away from home, and really that’s what we wanted to do. Provide kids a chance where they can get a high education, and combine it with their love of hockey. And hopefully not have to leave home to do it.”
This hockey academy, similar in concept to the Notre Dame Academy in Medicine Hat, the Okanagan Hockey Academy, as well as the Pursuit of Excellence Academy, gives youth from around the continent a chance to play hockey and attend school. At present, Carlsen has youth on his team from as far as California, Powell River, and northern Alberta.
This year, two Fernie youth, one Sparwood, and two from the Crowsnest Pass are in the lineup with students from grades 10 to 12.
Youth attending the program will earn their physical education marks through playing hockey on the team. In addition, traveling for games with the team exposes them to a variety of scouts, which sometimes presents drafting opportunities.
Two weeks ago, the Fury traveled to play in Blaine, Minnesota, and the following weekend, to Olds, Alberta. In the new year, they travel to Detroit. This season they will play between 50-60 games.
“It’s a pretty intense schedule for them,” admitted Carlsen. “They skate every day, they work out every day. It’s a 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. job for these guys. It’s their passion, and at the end of the day I use their passion for hockey to drive them in the classroom and get a higher level of education.”
Carlsen has been coaching professional hockey for 17 years, and before this played in Europe on a pro team. He recently moved with his family from Fort McMurray to pursue this new career.
Assisting Carlsen on the bench is assistant coach and Fernie Academy Alumni, Max Sombrowski. Fury Hockey Director is Chris Moulton.
Sombrowski graduated from the Academy in 2013, and says this is a very special addition to the school.
“All of these boys having this opportunity, I think it’s a pretty special thing,” he said. “It’s good to keep hockey in the community, and at a high level.”
When Sombrowski was attending school, hockey schools were just starting to surface. In conversations with his mother and head of the school, Jocelyn Sombrowski, she stressed that she wanted to be able to provide others with this opportunity.
“I think it prepares them a lot better for the future,” said Max.
“They have a lot more opportunity; they get to go in the weight room, they get a lot more ice time, and they get to also have mentorship from coaches and people that have already been through that circuit.”
Many of the Fury players will be affiliating with the Fernie Ghostriders going forward, and several have already played games with the Junior B team. Some Fury players have been scouted by the Western Hockey League, and Junior A teams.
Any youth between the ages of 6-18 interested in TFA Fury U17 High Performance Boys Hockey are encouraged to reach out to Mike Carlsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.