Fans of Canadian Jewish hockey talent will be familiar with the name Oren Eizenman.
Oren Eizenman skating hard for the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL earlier this year.
The Toronto native is a standout forward with Israel’s national hockey program and last year received favourable appraisal from NHL scouts, when he was invited to the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp before the start of the 2008-2009 season.
While he didn’t make the big league this year – Eizenman, 24, was hobbled with a number of minor injuries that kept him from peak performance throughout the regular season, he said – his time playing for the Canucks’ farm team, the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, was productive.
In mid-season, Eizenman was traded to the Milwaukee Admirals – the Nashville Predators’ AHLaffiliate – and late last month, he helped the team sweep its semifinal playoff series against the Rockford Ice Hogs.
Though he managed just one assist in the series against Rockford, Eizenman’s play evolved this year.
Known more for his scoring and playmaking, Milwaukee’s coaching staff has asked him to become a grittier player with the Admirals.
Eizenman told The CJN it’s a part he’s happy to play.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “My game continues to become more well-rounded. In the past couple of months, I’ve focused more on the defensive aspects of my game, which has led to my coach being comfortable with me killing a lot of penalties, as well as shutting down the other team’s top lines. I think this year has made me a much more versatile player.”
The Admirals continued their quest for the AHL’s Calder Cup with their WestDivision Final series against the Houston Aeros late last month.
While he’s intent on continuing his quest to break into the NHLnext year, Eizenman’s off-season will prove challenging this year as well.
In addition to his hockey career, Eizenman will start his own business this summer with the launch of a hockey camp inToronto geared toward helping kids aged five to 13 improve their game and learn from professionals.
Called the Young Stars Hockey Camp, Eizenman, along with friend and partner, Brandon Luft, are offering two week-long sessions of intense hockey skills training from Aug. 10 to Aug. 21 to “strengthen the Jewish community through a Canadian pastime,” according to the camp’s motto.
Luft said the hockey camp is a “50/50” partnership with the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre’s Centre Camp and is also co-sponsored by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the United Way.
Sessions will take place at YorkUniversity’s Ice Gardens hockey facility, and Eizenman said he’s working on bringing in some “special” instructors, hinting that he may be able to coax some of his NHL friends and colleagues to give some hockey lessons to campers.
Eizenman said he’ll be the head instructor at the camp – where campers will get three hours of on-ice instruction per day – and he’s eager to impart his experience and knowledge to the kids.
“I’ve wanted to do this for awhile. Iwanted to give back to a community that has given me so much,” he said.
“I felt there was a void for Toronto kids who wanted to get better in hockey. They should have the highest level of training possible. When you’re young, you have the potential to develop skills. With kids, you really see huge improvements [over time].”
This is the second time Eizenman will run a hockey camp for youngsters. He had a brief turn as an instructor at another camp in upstate New York three years ago while playing for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers in NCAA Division I hockey.
“I’ve been playing hockey for a long time at a really high level, and this is an opportunity to pass on all the things I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from all the great coaches I’ve had over the years,” Eizenman said of his new camp.
“I hope this experience can help some of the kids realize their dreams as Idid,” he said. “Hockey is the coolest job in the world, if you ask me. If Ican help just one kid get there, I’d be very happy.”
Eizenman added that he hopes his camp will blossom into a sort of farm system for Israel’s national hockey program, and that discussions are underway with Israeli hockey officials to partner with the camp in the coming years.
For more information, visit www.youngstarshockey.com.