Canton’s Kyle Flanagan, retiring from professional hockey, wants to grow the sport in hometown
Kyle Flanagan, who recently retired from playing professional hockey, works with youth hockey players from the North Country at the NoCo Hockey Skill Camp at SUNY Canton’s Roo’s House. (Photo by Morgan Elliott)
By JAKE NEWMAN
CANTON -- Hockey has taken Kyle Flanagan across the country and even overseas, but he always seems to end up back at home in Canton.Flanagan recently retired from hockey after a six year professional career, playing for several American Hockey League teams and even a season in Sweden. The 29-year-old forward is happy that his career allowed him to play against elite competition, with some of his most treasured fans in the crowd to cheer him on.
“The most meaningful aspect of my career was that I played at some of the highest levels of hockey so close to home in front of family and friends and had a lot of fun doing it,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan played high school hockey for the Canton Golden Bears form 2004 to 2007 before beginning his more committed hockey journey. His first stop was with the Cornwall Colts, a Junior A team just over the Canadian border. Flanagan then spent the next two seasons in Iowa playing for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League before beginning his four year college career at St. Lawrence University.
The Canton native was an obvious fan favorite when the Saints stepped on the ice. Flanagan amassed 46 goals and 101 assists in 134 games and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award his senior season. He was offered a professional contract immediately after his senior campaign ended in 2013 and began playing for the Adirondack Phantoms.
Flanagan played two seasons with Adirondack before signing with Swedish Hockey League team MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik, where he played for one season before returning to play three more years in North America with Adirondack and the Binghamton Senators, who moved to Belleville, Ont. in his final season.
Naturally, Flanagan said he would love to continue playing the game he loves, but seems at peace with his decision to retire.
Although he is not sure what his next career move will be, a future in hockey is still on the table.
And, again, Flanagan has landed in Canton. Hockey still continues to be part of his reality there.
“I have always thought about coaching to stay in the game,” Flanagan said. “Coaching can be very rewarding. I see that with the NoCo Skill Camp. Seeing kids improve on something we teach motivates me to keep working with them.”
During the summer, Flanagan teams up with fellow Canton native and professional hockey player Wade Megan and former NHL video coach Mark Phalon to run the NoCo Hockey Skill Camp, which offers innovative skill development to hockey players in the North Country.
Canton is home to Flanagan, Megan and Phalon, and they intend to have an impact on the way the next generation of hockey talent is formed there.
“I do it because I care, and we want to see these kids succeed on and off the ice,” Flanagan said. “These drills are what we do to prepare for the upcoming season in professional hockey. We give these kids the same drills that we use in hopes it can help them be more creative and improve their overall game.”
It is not lost on Flanagan that many of these young hockey players he works with look up to him. He hopes that when those kids saw him play, they saw him enjoying the game, being creative, and making a commitment to never be outworked.
“If someone looked up to me as a role model from watching me play, I would want them to chase their dreams but don’t obsess over them, have fun, work hard, and let the chips fall into place,” Flanagan said.
“Success shouldn’t be determined by our peers,” Flanagan said. “It should be determined by how you feel about your own journey with the work you put into it.”
The NoCo Hockey Skill Camp will be held twice next summer at SUNY Canton’s Roo’s House. The first week will be held Monday through Friday, July 29 to Aug. 2, 2019. The second week starts Monday, Aug. 5, and goes through Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.
Players ages 12 to 18 years old can register for camp online starting Friday, Aug. 31, 2018.
More info: www.nocohockey.com.