A Clipboard exclusive – we get an inside look at North American Junior hockey through the eyes of Mike Gionta. While playing for the Queen City Steam of the Central States Hockey League, Mike will share his weekly experiences with the Clipboard. He doesn’t mind being called the cousin of Brian or Steve, but on the Clipboard he is Mike Gionta.
It started back in June. Actually it started before then on May 17th. That was when the Central States Hockey League draft was held.
I wasn’t expecting to become a part of this, but coach Don Biggs and the Queen City Steam had other ideas.
I got a phone call that afternoon telling me I had been chosen in the 2nd of 20 rounds.
The CSHL is a Junior A hockey league, with teams ranging from Cleveland, Ohio to Dubuque, Iowa. The Queen City Steam is located in Cincinnati, OH. Getting drafted in this league does not guarantee anyone a spot on a team.
Spring Rookie Camp was held on my senior prom weekend. Knowing I had to miss my prom for this team, I was going to make sure that there was not a chance of me getting cut. As the weekend of rookie camp went, I worked my tail off making sure I stood out to the staff. When the weekend came to a close, I found myself with a contract to play on the Queen City Steam for the 2008-2009 season.
I left Cincinnati that weekend with the words of coach Don Biggs in my head: “If you aren’t where we expect you to be by training camp, we will be happy to send you home.”
Ironically, I was never told what was expected of me, funny I know. However this saying has been my motivation to keep going and improving in the off season.
Every week with 5 days of intense training can become stressful on the body and mind. My routine goes as follows.
On Monday, 9am-10:30am I work with a personal trainer for hockey specific strength exercises. Instead of using weights my trainer uses sand bags. The reasoning behind this is that using the sandbags will work the grip muscles in addition to the group of muscles I am working on. When I first heard of the idea of using sandbags I was a little confused because I didn’t think it would be that beneficial, but after doing it I realized that it is one of the toughest strength work outs I have ever done. Afterwards I usually go skate till 1pm, or I will choose to take a 2 mile run on the beach.
Tuesday, I run on the beach around 9am. After that I go lift from roughly 10:30am-12:30pm. This lift focuses on the legs, it is a mix of heavy weight training and ply metrics. Later on at night I travel to Buffalo and skate with the Wheatfield Junior Blades of the Golden Horseshoe Junior “B” Hockey League.
On Wednesday, I go to a power skating coach in Oakville, Ontario from 1pm-2:30pm. The power skating focuses on technique and efficiency of my skating stride. I get a light lift from around 5pm-6pm. The light lift focuses on only core muscle and core stability. Then I skate with the Buffalo Stars of the Empire Junior “B” Hockey League.
Thursday, I do an explosive agility workout with my trainer from 9am-10:45am. By this day I am close to being burnt out, so I take the rest of the day off to relax.
On Friday, I meet with my trainer for another rough sandbag workout from 9:30am- 10:30am.
I have had an occasional summer showcase tournament with various teams on weekends. I am gearing up training camp which starts August 8th. I have never worked so hard for something in my life. I feel that I had made many sacrifices to be able to play for this team. I don’t feel that I could have done this without the support of my family and friends continuing to push me to achieve a higher goal. It takes a lot out of you to work this hard, but having them around makes it a bit easier to fight through.