BECK: FORMER PACK PLAYER, MIKE VERNACE, MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUTH HOCKEY
BY: Mitch Beck, Editor-In-Chief, Howlings
MONROE, CT – Mike Vernace was a terrific contributor in the year-and-a-half that he spent as a member of the Connecticut Whale (Hartford Wolf Pack).
During his 90 games with the Pack under head coach Ken Gernander, Verance potted nine goals, had 28 assists, was a plus-10 and had 37 PIM. He also had two helpers in the Whale’s playoff run in 2011-12.
As a reporter, Vernace was a fantastic guy. He was always exceptionally cooperative and a parent who would have his kids at games when working them, the Toronto native was always exceptionally kind to both of my kids.
After leaving the Whale, Vernance went to Europe to play with the Mannheim Eagles followed by a season with the Rogle BK in Sweden. Vernance came back to the States in 2015-16 and played two seasons in the ECHL with the Brampton Beast and had a brief call-up to the AHL. Last season, Vernance was in Austria with the Szekeshfehervar Alba Volan HC and this season he’s playing in Denmark with Rungsted Ishockey. In 37 games he has 4 goals and 11 helpers, 62 PIM and is a plus-5.
In addition to still living his dream as a professional hockey player, Vernace is also thinking about his future.
The 31-year-old, along with others have started a company designed to give back to the sport that has done so much for so many of them.
The company is called Shiftd Hockey and it could be a huge help to hockey parents who really want their kids to get to the next level.
Vernace and other professional players do video analysis of youth players and youth hockey teams. They then provide those players and teams custom reports that enable them to track their progress and improve. Their stats are used for a combination of development, as well as advanced and traditional analytics.
The staff at Shiftd Hockey are comprised of active or recently retired professional hockey players and coaches. The prerequisite to work at Shiftd Hockey is that the person applying must have played professionally.
“I think that will be what I’ll remember most as to what was the best part of being a pro hockey player was having the ability to positively influence a young kid,” Vernace told Howlings via email. “I think many take it for granted. But we were all those kids once, and there will be many, more after us and them. So, it’s a responsibility we have.”
This tool goes beyond the traditional. It can help the youngest kids or as Vernace said, it even helps him. “I think it’s a really useful tool, actually, because it’s something I use as well, with my bro. We watch and track our own games the same way.”
But ultimately this is about helping young people get where they hope to with their game. “We are trying to build an educational platform that all hockey kids, and just about everyone else too, can learn from and help them in their development.”
Vernace wants to make a difference. It’s a lesson he says he learned from his parents. “My parents allowed for me to be who I am, so I am supremely grateful for that opportunity. Without them, there’s no chance I am who I am.”
Vernace has a podcast where he talks about this and other hockey related issues that you can find HERE.
If you’re interested in contacting Vernace and taking advantage of this exceptional tool to help your own team, your own play, or your child’s play, you can follow this link https://shiftdhockey.com/