Young minor hockey players aren't the only ones learning valuable lessons on the ice at Ryan O'Byrne's Charity Camp at the Ian Stewart Complex this week.
Juniors from the Western Hockey League and B.C. Hockey League, who are assisting O'Byrne as instructors, are picking up vital educational skills regarding community, volunteering and the passing on of life tasks from the Colorado Avalanche defenceman.
"I've been fortunate to have people in this community volunteer their time when I was growing up to help me get to where I am," O'Byrne said after Tuesday's morning on-ice session. "That's part of it.
"All these younger, junior guys helping out, like Keegan Kanzig for example - I worked out with him a bit this summer. If you go on to play in the NHL, or where ever it is, we're fortunate to have long off-seasons and lots of free time, so it's about paying back people who have helped you along the way."
Kanzig, a six-foot-five, 240-pound defenceman with the Victoria Royals of the WHL, is one of many assisting O'Byrne this week.
"He's a successful guy who has made it to a league that I eventually want to play in," Kanzig said of O'Byrne. "It's great that he gives back.
"He's worked so hard to get to where he is and he appreciates this community, the support he gets from it."
So jumping on board was an easy decision for the 17-year-old Kanzig, an Athabasca, Alta., native whose family now resides in Fort Saskatchewan, just northeast of Edmonton. Kanzig remained in Victoria for most of the off-season to work on his training with Jeff Compton.
"I really like the community and this is a good chance to give back and help some of the kids who came out to watch our games," added Kanzig.
Sam Grist, of North Saanich, is a 19-year-old defenceman who is heading into his third season with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. Having grown up playing his minor hockey in the Penninsula program and the Victoria Racquet Club, he knows well of O'Byrne's career.
"He's amazing," Grist said. "I like to watch him closely and take notes about being a leader and giving back. It's a great quality."
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