Superstar hip host artist TassNata (Justin Nerling), far right, and Noah Debalinhard discuss strategy as they watch a scrimmage in the Third Annual Gare Family Mini Hockey Camp at Okanagan Training Rink. (Kevin Mitchell/Morning Star)

Gare’s Vernon mini hockey camp marvellous

Superstar rapper, ex-NHL among guest coaches

They worked on basic fundamentals with a few elite pros and amateur players while taking home some sweet swag.

It was fun and games with some perks as 14 youngsters skated in the third annual Gare Family Mini Hockey Camp at the Okanagan Training Rink.

There was even a surprise visit from minor hockey grad and superstar rapper/hip hop artist Justin Nerling (aka TassNata), who looked in prime game shape.

“Justin wasn’t sure whether to sign autographs as TassNata or (hilarious alter-ego in videos) Gator Balderis,” chuckled camp director Carly Gare.

Retired NHL forward Jerred Smithson, and former American and Western League all-star Dennis Holland, now a scout with the Dallas Stars, were among the guest instructors.

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The Gare family was represented by Ernie Gare, a Vernon Junior A Essos legend and New York Rangers scout back in the day, and his sons Leath (BCHL all-star) and Grady (rec league legend). Hayden Pasacreta, Curt Jensen, Noah Debalinhard and Liam Sallows Cromarty also volunteered during the week.

“Mike Burke (OTR skating coach) and Koltin Dodge (Junior B North Okanagan Knights) were paid instructors but Koltin stepped up last minute to really help us, said Carly. “Sport Chek Kelowna donated a water bottle and a puck for each child, (e-NHLer now playing pro in Europe) Andrew Ebbett put a personalized package together of signed posters and various cards that he mailed over from Michigan. Rick Davidson donated a Bobby Orr jersey, and each day the heart and hustle hat was handed out to one hard worker, and on the Friday, we drew one of the five names for the jersey. Mario Reda was the winner. Omar’s Collectibles gave me a huge discount on some NHL prizes and Dennis Holland also donated a hat.”


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