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National Girls Hockey Academy coming to Skaneateles

— Skaneateles has one of the few high school varsity girls’ hockey teams in the state. Soon, the town itself will be home to an elite girls’ hockey academy that will draw players from across the United States and Canada.

The National Hockey Academy, an accredited affiliate of USA Hockey, intends to have two teams for girls ages 19 and under, to play hockey at a tier 1 level, with a structure and experience similar to that of a preparatory school. Academy players would mostly live in Skaneateles and attend either Skaneateles public schools or the Manlius Pebble Hill private school, and be full participants in the local community while also focusing on their hockey skills eight months of the year.

“There’s hockey here, there’s rinks, it’s a beautiful area: What better place to do this than Skaneateles?” said NHA Director and Skaneateles resident Robert Brown during a presentation to the Skaneateles School Board of Education. “This might be good for the school and for the community.”

The NHA will have a maximum of 40 students, grades 9 through 12, who will play between 60 and 80 games during a nine-month hockey season running September through May. An average of 7.5 hours will be spent on the ice each week, including practice, games, skill development and power skating training.

NHA will be consulting and working with current and former players from both the U.S. and Canadian national and Olympic women’s teams. The names of those players, and the ultimate director of hockey, will be announced in 2012 once recruitment is completed.

The NHA has discussed ice rink availabilities with administrators of the old town ice rink and at the YMCA, and has identified times when the academy could practice and play games without conflicting with schedules of the Skaneateles Youth Hockey Association, Skaneateles Figure Skating or the high school girls’ hockey team, Brown said.

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