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Forum’s Simmons works to create elite hockey club

Former N.S.A. coach set to establish Lake George team for those ages 18-20

Rod Simmons, right, coaching a National Sports Academy team.

Rod Simmons, right, coaching a National Sports Academy team.

LAKE GEORGE — Former National Sports Academy head men’s hockey coach Rod Simmons, now employed as the manager of the Lake George Forum, hopes to continue to enjoy success as a hockey coach in Lake George, where he is going to establish a new Junior A team.

Last season Simmons’ Junior A N.S.A. team, based in Lake Placid, posted a 41-3-5 record and rolled through league playoffs for an International Junior Hockey League championship. Simmons was named his league’s Coach of the Year.

“We’re going to have a Junior A hockey team that will compete against other teams in Canada and the U.S. It’ll be for guys that have graduated high school up to the age of 20,” Simmons said. “All of our guys will be eligible for college hockey.”

The team will be called the Lake George Fighting Spirit. Simmons expects the team to play a 50-game schedule between September and April. Players will pay a $7,500 “hockey fee.”

“Junior A hockey is quite a big step above high school hockey,” explained the coach. “It’s basically a preparatory league for NCAA hockey. Very few kids come out of high school and go right to college hockey. Most guys are 20 before they start college hockey now; probably 90 percent go to some sort of Juniors first, before they go on to college hockey.”

“The last three years (at N.S.A.), we’ve placed about 26 kids to college hockey,” he said. “That’s what our philosophy is: Moving kids to college hockey. We’ll carry 25 players and our goal is for all of those kids to play college hockey.”

Simmons’ wife Lisa, who is also a former N.S.A. coach, will also work with the team.

The coach said that players will “come from all over the world: Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada, all over the U.S.”

The former college coach is recruiting players for his team, relying on his far-flung network of hockey contacts.

Roster spots remain available; individuals interested in playing for the team should contact Simmons via the Forum, at 668-2200.

He expects to start practices on Aug. 6.

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