On the latest episode of New England Hockey Journal’s RinkWise podcast, Kirk Luedeke is joined by Torrey Mitchell, Pete Lenes, and Kevin Sneddon, the brains behind Elev802 — a hockey training company based in Essex Junction, Vt.
Co-owners Mitchell and Lenes, who both played college hockey at the University of Vermont before going pro, handle the bulk of the on-ice development. Sneddon, a Harvard alum who spent 17 seasons as the head coach of Vermont, serves as President and Director of Operations.
According to their website, the mission of Elev802 is to “constantly challenge and lead individuals to achieve the highest level of performance on and off the ice … by teaming up with other former professional players and staff.”
With Mitchell, Lenes, and Sneddon, all of whom played or coached at various levels of the game, prospective trainees get just that.
“We’re not re-writing the skill development model, but we’re bringing a ton of energy, a safe environment, and it’s rubbed off on people,” Mitchell, 36, said.
The roots of Elev802 began with Mitchell and Lenes, who played two seasons as college teammates under Sneddon at Vermont.
Mitchell, a Quebec native and Hotchkiss alum, jumped straight to college from prep school in 2004. At the end of his junior year in 2007, he signed a pro contract and played 11 NHL seasons (nearly 700 games) before retiring in 2019.
Lenes — a.k.a “Swaggy P” — hails from Shelburne, Vt., and played prep hockey at Tabor. After four seasons at Vermont, he played in the AHL, ECHL, and other pro leagues in Europe, between 2009-20.
At the end of their playing days, the duo rejoined forces to build Elev802 into what it is today, with Nov. 9 marking year two.
The company focuses its development on smaller training rinks (50×80) and helping boys and girls of all ages from beginner (6-7) to pro (25-26).
With a smaller skating surface, Elev802 puts an emphasis on bettering the skills that help improve the decision-making aspect of players’ games.
“Hockey is played in small areas all around the ice,” Lenes, 35, said. “Yes, you need the big ice for full-end speed, but what we’re training and doing with the kids is all in tight areas. Coming out of the corner, going from this zone to the next zone, stuff like that.”
Perhaps more important than utilizing the smaller training surface is having fun with the development process, Mitchell said.
“The kids see us as like — we’re kids on the ice with them, and they feed off that,” the former NHLer said.
With more than three decades of NCAA playing and coaching experience, Sneddon has seen the broader changes in the game that have impacted development over the years.
“The game has changed so much from when I first started coaching,” Sneddon, 51, said. “We would probably get pretty annoyed at a player if they were trying to toe drag all over the ice or do a Michigan behind the net. Now, you see kids pulling that move all of the time and you see the skill level just going up, and that’s just making the game better and better.
“So, for kids to be able to come to an Elev802 on a smaller sheet and work on those kinds of skills — it’s repetition, it’s having fun with it, it’s working hard and leaving our facility dripping wet with a smile. If that happens and kids want to come back, these guys have done their job,” Sneddon added.
“I don’t go on the ice that much I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed watching kids — boys and girls — come through our facility and seeing them from one year to the next. A ton of improvement happens.”
For more from each of the guests on their individual careers, advice they have for players at all levels of the game, what they’re trying to accomplish with Eleve802, and more, listen to the full podcast today.
Visit elev802.com/camp to learn about their hockey camps around the country.
RinkWise is brought to you by Sacred Heart University, University of Nebraska High School and Bruce Haas’ “Great Game!: D-1 College Hockey: People, Places, Perspectives.”