USA Hockey Magazine

September 2015

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30 PHOTOS BY Harry Thompson; USA Hockey Magazine Archives; Art Berglund BY HARRY THOMPSON W ith its majestic peaks, lush green valleys and vibrant downtown community that's a mix of Rodeo Drive and Main Street, USA, it's easy to say that every day is a great day in Aspen, Colo. And just a short drive from town sits the Lewis Ice Arena, where for one week every August it is definitely a great day for hockey. It's been that way for 50 years, ever since Bob Johnson teamed up with Art Berglund to create the Bob Johnson Hockey School. Over the years it's been a who's who of the American hockey com- munity, from legendary coaches to up-and-coming counselors to an impressive lineup of campers who have gone on to scale the highest peaks of the game. And now, 24 years after the passing of the beloved Badger Bob, the hockey school that bears his name continues to flourish thanks to a family effort that most certainly would make the Johnson family patriarch's heart swell with pride. From Bob's son Mark and his five kids, to his daughter Sandy, her husband Tim McConnell and their sons, the Bob Johnson Hockey School is a family affair that proves that blood is thicker than frozen water, and their passion for the game is thicker than blood. The camp, which also does a week up the road in Vail, has survived tough economic times, rising costs in one of the country's most exclusive areas and the changing face of the hockey community by sticking to its core values of providing a quality learning experience in a positive and fun setting. "The criteria for the week is to make sure that they have a good experience and have fun with what they're doing. So whether they come back next year or when they step on the ice in the early fall with their respective teams they're looking forward to it," said Mark Johnson, the 11-year NHL veteran and star of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team who spearheads the effort to keep his father's legacy alive. In an era when hockey schools are slowly going the way of the wooden stick, the Bob Johnson Hockey School thrives thanks to a few fundamental core values. One is ice time. By the time the seven- day camp concludes on Saturday, the 120 campers who come here from all over the U.S. will spend more than 25 hours on the ice. "These kids get more ice time in one week in the summer than they will all season," said Berglund, the general manager of numerous U.S. National and Olympic Teams. The daily curriculum is divided into various sessions that focus on power skating, individual skills and team play. There are also spirited scrimmages that are infused with the infectious enthusiasm of Tim "the Voice of the Rockies" McConnell on the PA system. The list of camp alumni reads like an all-star roster, from the likes of Olympians such as Jim Johannson, to NHL stars Phil Kessel and Paul Gaustad and a host of college players. Olympic speed skater Eric Heiden once attended the camp, to which long-time college coach Bill Selman turned to Berglund and said, "There's no way Bobby Orr skates any better than that kid." Several years later Heiden lit up the speedskating oval in Lake Placid and won five gold medals. The Bob Johnson Hockey School Still The Gold Standard As It Celebrates 50th Anniversary SEPTEMBER. 2015 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM Family Tradition Fifty years after Bob Johnson and Art Berglund started the Bob Johnson Hockey School, Mark Johnson (above) keeps it going with the help of his family and friends.

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