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Game on, kids; learn hockey from the best

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One of the best defensemen to ever lace ‘em up for the New Mexico Scorpions, plus one of Rio Rancho High School’s most prolific scorers, have teamed up to lend their knowledge and expertise to young hockey players at the second Warrior Hockey Camp next week at Santa Ana Star Center.

That’s right: There’ll be ice again at the Star Center, where Vladimir Hartinger played two (2006-08) seasons as a “blue-liner” for the Scorpions and Joey Carroll once starred on a championship team for the Rams.

Hartinger’s two seasons here — his favorite as a Scorpion, playing under head coach Ray Edwards in ’06-07 and coach Randy Murphy in ’07-08, when Hartinger was named the CHL’s most-outstanding defenseman — were part of his five total seasons spent with the Scorpions. He also played from 2002-05 for the Central Hockey league team, which took the 2005-06 season off during its move from Tingley Coliseum to what was then the brand-new Star Center in October 2006.

A native of the Czech Republic, Hartinger has also played in his country (2000-01) and Italy (2008-10); he also played for the Ft. Wayne Brahmas of the CHL in the Scorpions’ “dark year” again in 2010-11, when he concluded his pro career with the Rapid City Rush. He was added to Murphy’s roster with the Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League during the 2009-10 playoffs, when Huntsville won the league title. (Murphy, a former Scorpions player, is now the director of hockey at the Mid-South Ice House in Olive Branch, Miss.)

Hartinger, along with his wife and daughter, moved back to Albuquerque after his final CHL season. He obtained work and soon met Carroll, who was helping to coach the New Mexico Renegades, a junior hockey team that plays its home games at Blades Mulitiplex Arenas in Rio Rancho.

“I started to coach a bantam travel team,” Hartinger said. “Myself and Joey Carroll (RRHS graduate in 2005) started this Warrior program, focusing on hockey here in Albuquerque and New Mexico.”

It was an easy transition from tenacious defenseman to coach, Hartinger said.

“I think I handle it fine — I’m having fun doing it,” he said. “It’s great to share with younger kids, try to show them something else they’ve never seen before. Everyone responds well and likes it.”

“(Carroll) is a younger guy with the desire and he wants to make hockey better here in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque,” Hartinger explained of his relationship with the former Ram. “Our camp will be focused on strength and conditioning — they will be in much better shape. We also develop their skills in shooting and passing. They’ll be more ready to play in the season — our camp gets all these kids ready for the season.”

Hartinger said on Monday there were still about 10 open spots for next week’s camp, which runs Monday-Friday. Check-in runs Monday morning, from 8:30-9:15, and campers hit the ice daily at 9:30.

After the on-ice training ends at 10:45, campers will be training off the ice from 11-12:15. Lunch runs from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m., followed by another on-ice session from 2:30-3:45.

“I’m not saying we will stay in Albuquerque forever, but it is our home,” Hartinger said. Thus, the Warriors Hockey Camp is a great place for competent instruction from two die-hard hockey stars.

The cost of the camp is $375.

For more information or to register for the camp, call Carroll (314-6061) or Hartinger (710-5627), or send an email to warrior.hockey.camp@gmail.com.

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