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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 second season with the Madison Capitols in the USHL. Here, he is the Assistant General Manager and Associate Head Coach. Before 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 100 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; where she relocated when (now husband!) Gaven took his job with the USHL team. 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




Tyler is in his third year of helping with the Northerner Hockey Camp! He always show up to the rink with a big smile and we feel so fortunate to have him as a part of our staff! 

Tyler Hynes enters his fourth season as the head coach of Wilkes men's ice hockey in 2022-23 after being named the second head coach in the program's history in July 2019. Hynes ascended to the head role after serving one season as a graduate assistant for the Colonels. 

Since he's been with the Colonels, he has been named the MAC Co-Coach of the Year and the MAC Coach of the Year award. 

Hynes went to Wilkes with several years of coaching experience, including stops at his alma mater Union College, Boston General Elite Prep Team and Paul Vincent Hockey Program. He has served as the head coach of the Boston Generals Elite for two seasons while also working as assistant strength and conditioning coach at Union where he was responsible for coordinating and supervising off the field team and individual workouts for the lacrosse, field hockey, swim and softball teams. Hynes also served as the MAC goaltending coach where he worked with and developed goalies from the youth level up to Division III and Division I college athletes.
Hynes also has worked as a skills instructor with Capital District Youth Hockey providing on-ice skills, instructions and training for each youth hockey organization of the Capital District including Albany-Troy Youth Hockey, Schenectady Youth Hockey, Saratoga Youth Hockey, Clifton Park Youth Hockey and Dynamo Hockey. For his work with local hockey organizations Hynes received the Charles N. Morrison Award from Union Men's Hockey as a senior. The award is presented annually to the player who participated in extracurricular activities while demonstrating academic interest and achievement.
Hynes is no stranger to elite level hockey having played at Albany Academy where he was named an assistant captain and all-prep selection. From there Hynes went on to play four years at Division I Union College where he was a three-time ECAC Hockey All-Academic honoree before stints in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Omaha Lancers and Fargo Force. He was a two-year assistant captain in the USHL totaling 35 points on 20 goals and 15 assists in 59 games being named the team's outstanding forward with the Force.

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Coach Bre is an essential part of our #NHCfamily and is in her third year helping with the Northerner Hockey Camp!

Bre is currently the Assistant Coach for Elmira College Women's Ice Hockey Team (D3) in New York. Before Elmira, Bre was the Assistant Varsity Coach at Gentry Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Prior to coaching, Coach Bre attended Hamline University, where she remains the program's all-time leader in both goals (92) and assists (93) in 112 games for an average of 1.65 points per game. 


Her 31 goals during the 2017-18 season, along with 64 points (2018-19) are both Hamline program records. 
With four career hat tricks, Simon's 195 career points are more than double than any other player to ever play for Hamline. 

During her Junior year, she was earned Laura Hurd Award for the D3 Player of the Year.


 Bre brings great enthusiasm, passion and a sense of humor to our camp and we are so grateful to have her!

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Marko is in his third year with helping with the Northerner Hockey Camp!


He is currently a Junior at Mercyhurst University majoring in Communications. Prior to college, he played 51 games wearing the captain's C for the Minnesota Magicians of the NAHL. He dished out 24 assists to go with nine goals for a total of 33 points. He was also a former Captain at the USHL level!

Marko is cool tempered, intelligent and is always in the right place at the right time. He brings a plethora of coaching knowledge and personal player experience 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!




Ben Smieja is currently an assistant Coach for Warroad HS in Warroad, MN.


He is also the owner and operator of Palisade Hockey which focuses on small group skill training on and off the ice. 

Smieja playing career consisted of HS hockey at Warroad, juniors, and college hockey for University of Jamestown and Lindenwood University. 


Smieja loves to give back to the game of hockey and loves helping kids achieve their goals.

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Penny is a 2 year old Chocolate Lab that LOVES the Brainerd Lakes Area. 


She will quite literally play fetch off the end of the dock all day long if you let her! Her favorite toy is a tennis ball and come winter you can find her running around the rink in Madison!

Penny is the friendliest dog and the biggest fan of The Northerner Hockey Camp!

*Penny doesn't actually come to the NHC camp we just love her!

Questions or Comments?

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