Nov 13, 3013

“Black Aces” players, coach, hope NHL futures are in the cards

Coach Cyril Bollers, right, with Josh Burnside, who now plays for the OHL Mississauga Steelheads.


October 25, 2013

Josh Ho-Sang – a diverse star in the making

 Josh Ho-Sang (left) celebrates a goal.  (Photo: Tim Cornett, WindsorSpitfires.com)


May 29/2012

98 Skillz Black Aces 2012 Cougar Classic Champions

May 29/2012

Congratulations to all those players drafted in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection Draft.  For this group that played at one time or another with our Skillz program,  its a true accomplishment for all your hard work and dedication thus far.   Now the real hard work begins!

1.      Joshua Ho-Sang
2.      Robert Fabbri
3.      Jeremiah Addison
4.      Dante Salituro
5.      Liam Herbst
6.      Jaden Lindo
7.      Daniel Desousa
8.      Jared Walsh
9.      Ryan Verbeek
10. CJ Garcia
11. Michael Cramarossa
12. Brendan Lemieux
13. Chad Heffeman
14. Ryan Taylor
15. Cordell James
16. David Miller
17. Stuart Ilekys
18. Connor Graham
19. Kegan Blasby
20. Salvatore Filice
21. Theo Lewis
22. Justin Wain
23. Greg DiTomaso
24. Kevin Groulx
25. CJ Bollers
26. Chad Burrows
27. Boyd DiClemente
28. Drake Board
29. Alex Campbell
30. Danylo Znacko
31. Quinn Syrydiuk

May 12/2011

Congrats to all the boys who were drafted in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection Draft.
Just a little recognition for all your dedication and hard work.
I'm going to try and name all the boys who have played for Skillz at one time or another... If I forgot someone, I apologize in advance... my memory is fading :)

1. Darnell Nurse

2. Jordan Subban

3. Bo Horvat

4. Stephan Harper

5. Adam Bateman

6. Jordan Dekort

7. Alex Fotinos

8. Carter Verhaeghe

9. Bryson Cianfrone

10. BJ Salerno

11. Evan Morse

12. Jimmy Lodge

13. Aaron Berisha

14. Daniel Nikandrov

15. Corey Foster

16. Joshua Sterk

17. Patrick Murphy

18. Marselis Subban

19. Thomas Welsh

20. Tyler Hill

21. Aidan Wallace

22. Josh Burnside

23. Charlie Graham

24. Dylan McLaughlin

25. Ian Edmondson

26. Ryan Kirkup

27. Brycin Morrison

28. Landon Schiller

29. Michael Giugovaz

30. Josh Pace

31. Alex Annecchiarico

32. Mikey Soucier

33. John Woolsey

34. Mark Friedman

35. Dylan Sikura

36. Marco Azzano

37. Matthew Nestico

38. Brett Sharples

39. Braxton Andrews

40. Ryan Coulter

41. Leonard Dziemianko

42. Justin Bailey

43. Tyler Hore

44. Troy Crema

March 18/2011

CJ Bollers, Director of Skillz Hockey has been chosen to be one of the coaches at the OHL U-16 program of Excellence Evaluation Camp in Barrie may 13-15, 2011


The Under-16 Program is designed to introduce high performance hockey being Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence and the Ontario Hockey League to players and their families.

“We are pleased to have a number of professional instructors and guest speakers to conduct the in-class seminars,” Ontario Hockey League Commissioner David Branch.

The OHL Under-16 Program of Excellence is a development weekend designed to educate and inform players and parents and on-ice officials. This program is being conducted this year across the province in  Kitchener, Oshawa, Barrie, Windsor and Sudbury.

June 20/2010

What is a Black Ace?

We’re glad you asked. Because, if you’re interested in what a Black Ace is, you’ve seen or heard of us.

First of all, A Black Ace is an elite player in the SKILLZ Hockey program, a Toronto-area Hockey program designed to supply those athletes less fortunate than others a chance to play the game that has been a birthright to all Canadian children.

The name comes right from hockey lore itself.

Eddie Shore, an Honored Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was owner of the AHL Springfield Indians.  Shore bought the Indians in 1940 after his playing days with the Boston Bruins. He started to to call the players who were working their way back into the line-up of his club, his 'Black Aces.'

These were players who were coming off injuries or were being punished.  They had run out of luck as far as Shore was concerned.  Former Boston Bruins coach and current color commentator for Hockey Night In Canada, Don Cherry, was one of Eddie Shore's most celebrated 'Black Aces.'

"Anyone who crossed Shore became a 'Black Ace,' one of the many extras he kept on the squad - but wouldn't dress for punitive purposes.  The Black Aces had to work extra hard in practice and were always available to play should any of the regulars enrage Shore even more.  In addition to scrimmaging with the team, the Black Aces were required to do odd jobs around the arena such as painting seats, selling programs, making popcorn, and blowing up hundreds of balloons before the ice shows." From "Grapes: A Vintage View of Hockey" by Don Cherry with Stan Fischler:

Several players entering the NHL or nearing promotion to the League have gone through the SKILLZ program, including Wayne Simmonds of the Los Angeles Kings, Chris Stewart of the Colorado Avalanche, Anthony Stewart of the Florida Panthers

The idea was the brainchild, in part, of former NHL goaltender Kevin Weekes, but is continued today by a group of coaches dedicated to the championing of minority players and those less fortunate players who would not have the opportunity to afford the chance to play hockey. Cyril Bollers, the president of SKILLZ today, see this as a great chance to further a pipeline of minority youth to the junior ranks, Canadian and American college programs and to the NHL.

“It is about giving them an opportunity,” said Bollers. “They see that hard work and dedication, combined with having the high-level coaching and the chance to play against some of the best programs from North America allows them to hone their skills to the elite level.”

“I remember Kevin came out to the (SKILLZ) camp with Anson Carter, another NHL player, and we were all very excited at meeting two black players who were in the NHL,” said Simmonds, who quickly has become an enthusiastic participant in NHL Hockey Is For Everyone initiatives. “I just want to be able to give back.”

 “If you saw the list of the kids who went through SKILLZ, it's pretty impressive,” said Eustace King, Weekes' agent, childhood friend and former goalie at Miami (Ohio) University. “Fred Brathwaite was involved. I went there, too. Kevin Weekes, Jamal Mayers and Anson Carter, that's my peer group. Rane Carnegie, Trevor Daley and Raffi Torres all went through there. Mike Zigomanis trained in the same gym and they were guiding him at 16. They just continue to help each other. Kevin played a major role because he wanted that role, he wanted to help kids.”

Weekes has great admiration for Willie O'Ree, who became the first black player in the NHL in 1958 and has been director of youth development for NHL Hockey Is For Everyone since 1998. He has seen O'Ree work tirelessly but with great joy with children in his clinics.

"Willie is a perfect example of that, not only for what he was able to accomplish, being a visionary in playing in the League, but for having that as his goal," Weekes said. "More importantly, the tens of thousands of kids he's had the opportunity to impact.”

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