You might find Athletic Mentors hockey camp alumni Stefan Noesen suited up for the Anaheim Ducks this spring, or wearing an Athletic Mentors Coaching Jersey, depending on the day. It’s been a long strange trip from Plano, Texas to the NHL, but for unstoppable two-way right-winger with the “high hockey IQ,” the ride is worth the fare.
Noesen was called up from the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals to log ice time in the bigs with the Anaheim Ducks earlier this month.
“I definitely had a little bit of jitters in the beginning,” said the 22-year-old.
“As the game went on, it starts to be hockey and those feelings go away. It was a dream come true.”
Noesen’s NHL agent, Eddie Ward, predicts his April debut won’t be his last time in suit, and credits Athletic Mentor’s Pro Hockey Camp with Noeson’s ongoing development and steady progress toward the top of his game.
“Training with coach Mark Olson has given Stefan the edge to up his game and get the call,” said Ward. “He has made outstanding gains in terms of strength and conditioning in the two years he’s trained with Athletic Mentors. The program’s pro-style focus on speed, strength, skills and diet is unparalleled,” Ward said.
Noesen, at 6’2” and 205 lbs, was a first-round draft pick in 2011 for the Ottawa Senators and remains in the NHL’s top 35 prospects in central scouting rank. His proving ground in the OHL and AHL was protracted when he was sidelined by injuries, including a torn ACL that had him sit out the 2013 season, and an Achilles tendon injury last fall. But Noesen has battled back to top form, a feat Ward calls “inspiring.”
“It’s been amazing what he’s gone through. I’m really proud of Stef. There are two ways a story like this can go. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, Stef’s continued to get himself in phenomenal shape, trained really hard in the summer, had a great training camp…It is just amazing how he’s persevered,” said Ward.
Ward is teaming up with coach Olson this summer to unveil the Athletic Mentor’s On-Ice Ultimate Skills & Conditioning program. Noesen is joining the team as an assistant coach, a role for which Ward says he was made.
“Stefan pays attention to detail and knows all about focusing on the little things to ratchet up his play. I think our young athletes will really benefit from his experience and his incredible attitude. He’s a smart, competitive player with a high-energy, two-way game.”
The team’s excited to provide something different that hasn’t been available to serious players who want to get to the next level.
“This is a camp that’s going to be focused on attention to details; a high-end program that’s really going to push the athletes. In other words: not your typical camp,” Ward said.
As an agent, he feels serious pro contenders need to train year-round to remain competitive players. Increasingly, those who make the pro circuit are one-sport athletes from an early age and are committed to hard work at strong summer programs.
But quantity does not beat quality, he warns.
Even those players who’ve trained year-round from an early age — like Noesen — can use a boost with elite strength and conditioning training and the kind of on-ice skills best mentored by those who’ve played pro or at elite levels.
Noesen is the product of early Dryland training as a former 10-year member of Dallas’s Ice Jets hockey program, where he helped lead his team to a U-12 Tier 1 national championship.
Dryland training has historically been an innovative approach to training all aspects of an athlete, from nutritional counseling to explosive power through strength conditioning. A handful of programs across the US have been pioneers, Athletic Mentors among them.
Noesen, the son of two college basketball athletes, fell in love with hockey at the age of 3 when his grandfather taught him the “motions” of ice skating in the living room. Since then, he’s been driven for ice time.
Despite the hot, humid climate in Dallas, Noesen trained year-round since he was 8 years old. He moved to Northville, Michigan to spend two seasons in the Compuware Under-16 Team, winning a national championship in 2009. After his first-round draft selection, he played with the OHL Plymouth Whalers until traded to Anaheim.
His advice for young athletes who want to make the play to go pro is “don’t stop believing – or improving!”
“Every game I push myself to be better and better, and the more I push myself, the higher I go in the standings,” Noesen said. “Play big and train hard.”