Eric Burton, The Hockey Writers – Andy, can you explain to the readers what Breakaway Hockey School is?
Andy Brink, Breakaway Hockey School: Breakaway Hockey provides a place for youth players to improve skills through on-ice and off-ice training. We provide specialty camps (skating, shooting, stick handling, etc.) and also provide AAA teams.
EB: How long has Breakaway Hockey been in business?
AB: This is our 26th year. Breakaway Hockey was started by Dave Snuggerud when Dave was playing for the Gophers and he would continue the camps in the summer when he was playing in the NHL. I joined Dave in 2001.
EB: Your mission statement says that Breakaway Hockey helps players become better “all around” hockey players. What does that mean?
AB: Our philosophy has always been that the players should be playing other sports and becoming good athletes. We encourage our players to take breaks from hockey to do other sports. Also, we are teaching our athletes that they need to focus on all aspects of development, nutrition, fitness, strength, and mental training. Our Breakaway athletes are focusing on all aspects of long term development.
EB: What do you tell players that have inspirations of taking their game to the next level (college, professional)?
AB: It is great to work with young players that have the highest of aspirations. As players mature, they learn that there will be a lot of adversity along the way. How they respond to the adversity they face will ultimately determine how far they go. Not everyone develops at the same pace so patience is important.
EB: I noticed that you have had a few college and NHL hockey players help coach during the summer, who are some of the players that have helped you?
AB: We have had a lot of former players come and instruct our AAA players and hockey campers. Thomas Vanek, Hudson Fasching, and Nick Mattson are just a few of the many players that have helped instruct at our camps.
AB: We have a group of 1995 birth years that played AAA hockey with us for several years. A number of those players have already been drafted. Hudson Fasching, Ian McCoshen, Michael Brodzinksi, Connor Hurley and a few more. Some of them will be draft eligible this year like Luc Snuggerud and Steven Spinner both of whom will be playing for Nebraska Omaha next year.
EB: Are any of your ex-players currently in the NHL?
AB: Not yet. But within the next five years we will have quite a few former Breakaway AAA players that will be competing for spots. Our oldest players were either drafted last year or will be draft eligible this year.
EB: North Dakota defenseman Nick Mattson trained and worked at Breakaway Hockey, how has Nick developed as a player?
AB: Well, I wish I could watch Nick play more games but I was really impressed how he ended the collegiate season this year. He seemed to play a lot of minutes and play in every situation. Confidence is everything for a hockey player and he seemed to play with a lot of belief in his game at the end of the year.
EB: What has impressed you the most about Nick’s game the last three seasons? What do you like about his game?
AB: His skills are fantastic: Skating, puck handling, vision. As a youth player he was dominant in Minnesota hockey. I know there is so much more structure at the collegiate and professional levels but the game still comes down to great players making plays. Nick is capable of making special plays. I would like to see him continue to jump into the play more and shoot more from the blue line. You have to get the puck to the net to be a great offensive defenseman at the D1 level.
EB: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
AB: It was my pleasure.