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Our goal is to bring local and world class coaches to the best place on Earth, the Brainerd Lakes Area. Our coaches bring a tremendous amount of knowledge, expertise and commitment to each training session and offer the best possible training conditions for our athletes. Fostering high levels of professionalism, energy, motivation, their wide-range of playing and coaching experience helps them both connect with the kids and become role models.


Our coaches always show up with smiles on their faces! They've been extensively schooled in the ideologies and methodologies that we believe in and support.


We have assembled a staff of highly qualified, former college athletes to put players through intense but fun training and drills both on and off the ice.


Utilizing our training, playing and coaching experiences along with the hockey resources available in the BLA, our intention is to create, teach and improve youth hockey players into top performers.


Having fun is at the core of our camp! It's our mission to engage young athletes in such a way that masks the hard work with fun skill-building drills and games. 





Gaven Bickford is currently in his first season as the General Manager with the Colorado Grit in the NAHL. Before the Grit, he was the Assistant General Manager and Associate Head Coach of the Madison Capitols in the USHL. Prior to the Capitols, Gaven had a three year tenure with the Minnesota Magicians. After two seasons as the Magicians' Assistant Coach, Bickford was promoted to General Manager and Director of Scouting with the Magicians during the 2020-21 season. 


Bickford has overseen over 150 division one commitments and six NHL Draft picks.


Throughout the years, Gaven has developed a passion for all levels of hockey and gives back through coaching. He has directed and counseled numerous hockey camps around the Midwest. Gaven is from Crosslake, Minnesota where he played his youth and High School hockey for the Northern Lakes Lightning.


"I coach because I love the game and love helping kids reach their goals whether that's making their top youth team, the varsity team, playing juniors or even college hockey, I want to mentor and advocate for them through the process."

-Gaven Bickford


Bickford played his youth and High School hockey for the Northern Lakes Lightning. After High School, Gaven attended Siena College in Albany, New York, where he earned a degree in Marketing and was a member of the Club Hockey Team (ACHA).


The native of Crosslake, Minnesota currently resides in Madison, WI with his wife, Emily and chocolate lab Penny.

(612) 532-4981

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The last few seasons Emily has coached for various associations and programs across the Twin Cities, throughout MN and now in Madison, WI. Emily has gained a real following with players of all ages and skill as a skill development coach, she offers weekly skills sessions and private lessons. Formally, she was the Head Coach for Gentry Academy and MAP South high school tier director.  She has worked for Minneapolis and Blaine youth hockey associations as both a coach and girls hockey coordinator + mentor. She continues to stay involved with the MN district Tier One Spring and Fall programs, CCM High Performance coaching and evaluations, USA Hockey Clinics, WHAM (Women's Hockey Association of Minnesota) and many AAA summer teams. 

"I consider my coaching style as very competitive, yet holistic. I coach to build up young, resilient players to find successes in their athletics but also in their academics, relationship and futures. She adds "The Northerner hockey camp was always a dream of mine, summer hockey should include a lot of skill development but be FUN!"  

- Emily Erickson

Growing up in northern Minnesota (Crosslake, MN) her youth hockey was played at the Breezy Point Ice Arena, in junior high she played for her high school hockey team formerly known as the Pequot Lakes Patriots (now, Northern Lakes Lighting) before transferring to a hockey prep school in Stowe, VT (NAHA- North American Hockey Academy).


From there she would go on to play D1 hockey and D3 golf for Union College (ECAC) in Schenectady, NY.

Emily graduated from Union College in 2017 with a double major in Economics and Entrepreneurship and currently works for an international commercial real estate company. She very much looks forward to the camp week every summer, when she can give back to all of the aspiring hockey players in the BLA and throughout MN youth hockey organizations! 

(219) 251-6780

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Now in his fourth year with us, Marko's leadership, extensive hockey background, and passion for coaching make him an exceptional figure at our camp.

Currently a senior at Mercyhurst University, Marko is not only excelling in his Communications Major but also leading on the ice as the team captain. His ability to balance academic rigor with athletic excellence speaks volumes about his dedication and work ethic.

Before his collegiate success, Marko demonstrated his leadership and skill in the NAHL with the Minnesota Magicians. As captain, he played 51 games, contributing significantly with 24 assists and nine goals, totaling 33 points. His performance was a testament to his skill, strategic understanding of the game, and ability to inspire his team.

Marko's experience as a former captain at the USHL level further solidifies his understanding of the game and what it takes to lead a team. His time in the USHL was instrumental in shaping his approach to leadership and teamwork.

Known for his cool temperament and intelligence, Marko is always strategically positioned, both on and off the ice. His calm demeanor under pressure and ability to make smart decisions are qualities that greatly benefit our camp.

Marko's wealth of coaching knowledge and personal player experience is invaluable to our team. He understands the nuances of the game and knows how to communicate effectively with young athletes, making him an excellent mentor and coach.

As Camp Director, Marko is committed to providing a top-notch experience for all campers. He ensures that every aspect of the camp runs smoothly and that each camper gets the most out of their time with us!

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Now in her fourth year with us, Coach Bre is a vital part of our #NHCfamily, bringing her incredible experience, passion, and enthusiasm to our camp. We are incredibly grateful to have Bre as our Camp Director. Her leadership ensures that every camper at Northerner Hockey Camp has an enriching, fun, and memorable experience.


Bre is currently making her mark as the Assistant Coach for the Elmira College Women's Ice Hockey Team (D3) in New York. Her role at Elmira showcases her deep understanding of the game and her ability to inspire and develop young athletes.


Before joining Elmira College, Bre served as the Assistant Varsity Coach at Gentry Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her time at Gentry Academy was marked by her commitment to fostering both the athletic and personal growth of her players.


Bre's journey in hockey is nothing short of extraordinary. As a student-athlete at Hamline University, she left an indelible mark, becoming the program's all-time leader in both goals (92) and assists (93) over 112 games, averaging an impressive 1.65 points per game. 


Her 31 goals during the 2017-18 season and a total of 64 points in the 2018-19 season are both standing records at Hamline. With four career hat tricks, Bre's staggering 195 career points more than double any other player in the program's history.


In her junior year, Bre's exceptional talent and dedication to the sport were recognized when she was awarded the Laura Hurd Award for the D3 Player of the Year, a testament to her skill and impact on the ice.


Bre brings a unique blend of great enthusiasm, passion, and a sense of humor to our camp. Her ability to connect with campers, combined with her extensive knowledge of the game, makes her an invaluable asset to our team.

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Coach Sydney is in her third year coaching with the Northerner Hockey Camp! She combines her teaching experience with her hockey knowledge to provide each player the best possible instruction.

Sydney is a native of the Brainerd Lakes Area and grew up playing for the Northern Lakes Lightning repping the C on her jersey! She won many awards throughout her high school career including; All-State Selection, All-Honorable Mention recipient, Tabbed MVP, and graduated with honors! She graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, MA. majoring in Psychical Therapy.

 Sydney brings a smile to the rink every day of camp and has a knack for connecting with youth players!




Coach Kanta is in his second year with the Northerner Hockey Camp!


A native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Kanta played his junior hockey for the Minnesota Magicians in the NAHL. During his time with the Magicians, Kanta appeared in over 150 games, scored 38 goals, and tallied 61 assists. 


He is currently a freshman at Army where he plays Division 1 Ice Hockey for the Black Knights. 

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Hannah has been with us since the first thought of The NHC! 


She is the owner of Simulated Media and the mastermind behind all of our marketing efforts. Not only did she create our logo and website, but she manages our social media platforms, captures photos of the kids training all week and assists with other business tasks that help ensure the camp runs smoothly.

Hannah played Division 1 Ice Hockey for Union College in Schenectady, NY where she graduated with a double major in English and Anthropology. She currently resides in Maui, HI and very much looks forward to coming back to the midwest to help with camp every summer!




We are delighted to introduce Ben Smieja, our esteemed Off-Ice Skills Coordinator at Northerner Hockey Camp. Ben's extensive experience in hockey, both as a player and a coach, along with his passion for skill development, makes him an invaluable part of our team.


Ben currently serves as an assistant coach for Warroad High School in Warroad, MN, where he brings his rich playing experience and tactical knowledge to the team. In addition to his coaching role, Ben is the owner and operator of Palisade Hockey, a venture dedicated to small group skill training both on and off the ice. His commitment to developing young talent is evident in his personalized and effective training methods.


Ben's journey in hockey is both impressive and inspiring. He started his playing career at Warroad High School, a program known for its strong hockey tradition. From there, he advanced to play junior hockey, showcasing his skills and dedication to the sport. Ben's playing career further flourished at the collegiate level, where he competed for the University of Jamestown and Lindenwood University. His experiences across these different levels of hockey have given him a well-rounded perspective on the game.


Ben's love for hockey extends beyond the rink. He is deeply committed to giving back to the game that has played such a significant role in his life. His enthusiasm for helping young athletes achieve their goals is at the heart of his coaching philosophy. Ben believes in the power of hard work, perseverance, and continuous learning, values he instills in every athlete he coaches.


As our Off-Ice Skills Coordinator, Ben focuses on the crucial aspects of hockey that occur away from the ice. His training sessions emphasize strength, conditioning, mental preparation, and skill development. He understands that the foundation of a great hockey player is built off the ice, and he is dedicated to helping our campers develop these essential skills. This summer, Ben is excited to work with our campers, helping them to not only improve their physical fitness and off-ice skills but also to grow their understanding and love for the game of hockey.

Get ready to elevate your game with Coach Ben at the Northerner Hockey Camp!

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We are thrilled to introduce Coach Audrey, a pivotal member of our Northerner Hockey Camp coaching team for the past three years. Audrey's passion for hockey and her dedication to mentoring young athletes make her an invaluable asset to our camp.


Born and raised in Shoreview, Minnesota, Audrey's love for hockey was ignited in the land of 10,000 lakes. Growing up in a state known for its deep hockey roots, she developed a profound appreciation for the game from a very young age.


Audrey's hockey journey took a significant leap at Gentry Academy, where she honed her skills and emerged as a standout player. Her remarkable performance helped lead the team to the state championships, where they proudly finished as runners-up. This achievement not only highlighted her skill on the ice but also her ability to inspire and lead her team.


Currently, Audrey is making waves as a sophomore forward for the Saint Anselm Women's Ice Hockey team in New Hampshire. Her commitment to excellence continues to shine through, both in her academic pursuits and on the ice.


As a coach, Audrey believes in the power of positive reinforcement and the importance of building confidence in young athletes. Her approach is centered around not just improving skills but also instilling a love for the game. She is known for her ability to connect with campers, making every session both fun and impactful.

This summer, Audrey is excited to bring her wealth of experience, enthusiasm, and knowledge to our campers!

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We are excited to introduce Coach Mady McCaffery, a dynamic and inspiring member of our Northerner Hockey Camp coaching staff for the past two years. Mady's diverse experience and enthusiastic approach to coaching make her a favorite among campers.


Hailing from Weymouth, Massachusetts, Mady grew up loving the game. Her hockey journey saw her excel at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts. Here, she developed her skills and competitive spirit, becoming a key player for her high school hockey and lacrosse team. She brings a winning mentality, having been named Most Valuable Player (MVP) at Weymouth High and earning All-Independent School League (ISL) honors. 

Further enhancing her hockey credentials, Mady played for the Boston Bandits, a club team known for its competitive edge and high level of play. This experience allowed her to refine her skills and gain valuable experience competing at a high level.


Currently, as a senior on the Saint Anselm Women's Ice Hockey team in New Hampshire, Mady continues to demonstrate her prowess on the ice. Her dedication to the sport and her team is evident in every game she plays. Majoring in Business with a minor in Communications, Maddy combines her athletic prowess with a love for music, Cape Cod, and travel.

Mady's versatility is one of her greatest strengths. Primarily playing as a center, she also has a strong background as a defenseman. This dual expertise gives her a unique perspective on the game, which she brings to her coaching.

As a coach, Mady emphasizes the importance of versatility, teamwork, and strategic thinking. She believes in nurturing not just the physical skills of her players but also their mental game. Her coaching style is engaging and supportive, focusing on individual player development within the team dynamic.

This summer, Mady is eager to share her passion, knowledge, and experience with our campers. Under her guidance, young athletes will learn to adapt to different roles on the ice, think strategically, and develop a deeper love for hockey.

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We are delighted to introduce Alex Bickford, our enthusiastic and dedicated Junior Counselor at Northerner Hockey Camp.


Hailing from Champlin Park, MN, Alex is our go-to guy for all things hockey, and his journey from camper to coach at our camp is nothing short of inspiring. Alex's love for hockey ignited at a young age. Growing up in Minnesota, a state synonymous with hockey, he was immersed in the sport from the outset. Alex's journey with Northerner Hockey Camps is a testament to his dedication and love for the sport. Having been a camper himself, he understands firsthand the impact and importance of a positive camp experience. This unique perspective makes him an invaluable mentor to our young athletes.

Alex is known for his infectious energy and enthusiasm. His ability to energize and motivate campers is remarkable. He brings a level of excitement and fun to every session, making learning and playing hockey an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. More than just a counselor, Alex has a genuine love for teaching and sharing his knowledge of hockey. His approachable and supportive nature makes him a favorite among the young athletes.


As a Junior Counselor, Alex serves as a role model and mentor to the campers. His journey from being a camper to a coach at Northerner Hockey Camps is inspiring, showing the campers the possibilities that lie within their own hockey journeys.

Questions or Comments?

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