Krivo School of Hockey Elite teaches lessons on, off the ice
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With practice four days a week at 6 a.m., players with the Krivo School of Hockey Elite arrive at their real school bright-eyed and ready to go.
Most other kids have only been awake a short while.
Krivo School players are a determined bunch. Would they rather sleep in? Sure. Or would they rather set the alarm for 5 a.m. and be on the ice an hour later? You bet.
“I love the game,” said a second-year player on the Pee Wee Minor team.
“As a parent, you have a built in barometer to ensure your kids love the game,” added a parent of a Squirt Minor player. “Getting up at 5 a.m. for a young kid can be hard, but in two years, there has not been one day where our child wanted to stay in bed versus going to practice. He loves the Krivo program.”
Andrei Krivokrasov is the founder, director and coach of the program, which is now in its fifth season. Each year since 2011, the registration numbers have grown – a testament that Krivokrasov is doing things the right way.
“I started my program to provide that development for players through my vision and what I learned in Russia,” explained Krivokrasov. “My father, Vladimir, is a coach in Russia and I have the same passion for the game as he has. So I took after him. Our mission is to provide world-class skill development and to prepare players for their future hockey career. Our goal is not only developing athletes for competition, but most importantly, prepare them for life. Being a good member of society is much more important than being a good hockey player. Everything in the real world is earned through hard work and I try to install that work ethic in my hockey players – hard work isn’t optional.
“Krivo School of Hockey Elite is not for everyone, I have to admit that. However, our numbers are growing because we focus on results. Developing skills to be a complete hockey player is our main goal – skating, stickhandling, passing and shooting. Without these fundamentals, in my opinion, hockey players will not be successful in the future.”
Krivokrasov’s reputation is also one that comes with results and a vast knowledge of the game.
Just ask another member of the Pee Wee Major team – a player who has been in the school four years running.
“The experience with Coach Andrei is like no other,” the player said. “He teaches you great hockey and helps you grow. He does lots of great drills that make you want to get better at every practice. He teaches you to work hard, never give up, always work hard for practice and games, you always can be better, and to battle.”
That player’s parent is equally immersed in what Krivokrasov is teaching.
“Andrei does a terrific job of developing skills at the 11U age group,” said the parent. “Skating and puck possession are integral to the game and he works very hard at it. The ability to compete at a high level and play against top competition is a selling point. They get a lot of instruction during the season being on the ice at least four times a week. The kids are taught the right way to play the game, both physically and intellectually. His passion for the game is translated to the kids.
So what initially attracted you to Krivo and what has kept you here?
“The opportunity to compete with and against top competition initially attracted us,” continued the parent. “A number of our son’s friends were also joining the organization and he loved the idea of being able to play with talented, hard-working kids. The fun, the amount of practice and ice time, hard work, discipline, and development has kept us interested.”
Then again, even players and parents that have moved on from the Krivo School still rave about the program.
“I knew I would become a better hockey player, so getting up early never bothered me,” said a former player with the 2002 birth year team. “I knew Andrei wanted me to be the best I could be and he pushed me to work hard in every practice and game. The biggest and most important things I have learned from Andrei were skating and the importance of working as a team.”
Practices are full-ice, which helps with real game scenarios. This helps with game stamina and allows the Krivo players to be competitive. Teams don’t share practices.
A parent from the Pee Wee Major team that has been involved with the program for four years sees the compassion and dedication in Krivokrasov.
“Andrei understands that he has a tremendous responsibility not only to his players, but also to the game,” the parent said. “He is keenly in tune with the importance of long-term development and age-appropriate skill training. While Andrei is teaching our kids to be better hockey players, he is also teaching and reinforcing good life lessons. Simply put, his product and his love for growing our kids has kept us here. He is providing our kids the foundation that they will need as they grow with the game.”
“Our son’s development over the past two years with Coach Andrei has been massive,” noted a current Mite parent. “He’s a much better skater (forward, backwards, edges, transitions) and he’s faster and stronger.”
Even the 2010 birth year players, Mites this season, see the benefits to playing for Krivokrasov.
“I get up early so I can get better at hockey,” said the Mite. “I want to play in the Olympics someday. I think Andrei is a cool guy. He is a great hockey player and coach and he has taught me that you can’t play hockey if you can’t skate. Passing is just as important as shooting.”
That Mite’s parent said Krivokrasov’s commitment level stands out above all else.
“Andrei is very committed to all of the players on the team and he gets to know each player personally,” noted the parent. “He knows their favorite professional players and he even knows their preferences for skates and sticks. During the initial tryout, we immediately noticed a higher level of commitment and discipline on the ice. Krivo players are ‘good kids’ and teammates. In addition, it was obvious that the Krivo programs simply had better skaters. Each kid was performing at the level of the best players in other programs. I was blown away watching his Squirt and Pee Wee team practice – simply amazing.”
Looking ahead, Krivokrasov will be putting added focus on the learn-to-play program for those aged 3-5 and his goaltending school.
“We pride ourselves in the commitment to the goal of the program,” said Krivokrasov. “Everyone buys in to working toward same goal, and that is achieved through hard work from both families and players. Building a great environment, great experience for families and players, chemistry between parents and players – these things are must. Most of all, I’m proud of every player and families that shows up to work every morning at 6 a.m. on the ice. This type of effort and commitment will create a great athlete/hockey player, a good student in school, successful employee or a business owner.”
Krivo School of Hockey Elite always welcomes new players at tryouts, especially those who are looking to compete at the highest level and participate in an intensive training and player skill development program.
Tryouts for the 2016-17 fall season begin Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May, 22, for Mites and Monday, May 23, and Tuesday, May 24, for Squirts and Pee Wees.
For more info:
Krivo School of Hockey Elite
— Matt Mackinder