Vancouver Thunderbirds Hockey - Skate.Shoot.Soar.

For the 2018-19 season, we will be unveiling a full skill development offered within the Thunderbirds for our members exclusively. This includes bringing in Derek Popke to provide leadership on the ice using a curriculum developed by the Vancouver Hockey School over the past decade that has successfully raised the overall skill level of all who have been part of the program. As well we have partnered with Pro Formance Goalie School to begin an early goalie development program with the desire to provide opportunities for any players interested in the position along with advanced opportunities to develop. We will also offer additional opportunities for our Novice players as an option to supplement their regular ice times.

Skills with Vancouver Hockey School's Derek Popke

We are excited to have one of the premier skill instructors leading the development of our youngest TBirds. As part of the Vancouver Hockey School, Derek has developed a curriculum that he will bring to our Initiation and Novice age groups starting in 2018-19. Derek will also act as a coach mentor to the coaches in the division and will bring his years of training to the rink to help develop our coaches. He will be on the ice on a regular basis bringing the latest skill instruction knowledge to our players and our coaches. Working alongside Derek with our Initiation Minor (Hockey 1) group will be Shawn Mcquistin who brings a unique enthusiasm and ability to support these young players in a fun environment as they learn the basic skills and begin to move along the skill pathway. Shawn has been part of delivering the curriculum this past season and is looking forward to bringing it to the TBirds.

In addition to these sessions, Derek will also be leading additional Thursday sessions for our Novice Major (Hockey 4) group as part of his overall Elementary Hockey Program for the Thunderbirds. See below for more information.

Elementary Hockey Program (EHP)

Elementary Hockey Program (EHP) is an in-season skills program designed for dedicated T-Birds Novice Major who want to train, work hard, and take their game to the next level. EHP runs 1x per week from September 27 - Feb 21st at Hillcrest Arena.

EHP sessions are instructed by Derek Popke. As a skating consultant, Derek has worked on-ice with the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, ECHL Victoria Salmon Kings, MML Vancouver Canadians, and numerous minor hockey teams. His current list of NHL clients include Jason Garrison (Las Vegas Knights), Kevin Bieksa (Anahiem Ducks), Ben Chairot (Winnipeg Jets), Troy Stecher (Vancouver Canucks), and Erik Gudbranson (Vancouver Canucks) to name a few. You can read Derek's full bio at

Players are placed in appropriate skill groups at the discretion of EHP coaches in order to maximize the teaching efficiency and learning experience of each individual player. Sessions do not conflict with T-Birds practice or game slots.

Session is sold out! 

EHP sessions will not be held on the following dates: Oct 4, Nov 8, Dec 6, Dec 20, Dec 27, Jan 3

Goaltender Development with Pro Formance Goalie School

Pro Formance is one of the leading goalie development programs in BC and has been training goalies in the Vancouver area for the past twenty years. Led by their Chief Instructor, Rob Fuchs, the Thunderbirds program will provide Novice players (Hockey 3 and 4) the opportunity to tryout the position and learn the basics during Association provided instruction times. These sessions will run:

Wednesdays from 5:30 - 6:30 pm at UBC (Thunderbird Arena) starting October 10th and running until Christmas break.  There is no cost to participate but goalies must bring their team's goalie equipment to use at the session as none will be provided onsite. Goalies must sign up to participate - click here to sign up for one or more session for the goalie's specific age division. Schedule may alter based on venue availability however it is currently set as follows:

Novice Minor: Oct 17, Nov 7, Nov 21 and Dec 12

Novice Major: Oct 10, Oct 24, Nov 14 and Nov 28 

In addition to the Association provided opportunity, for any Novice Major (Hockey 4) goalies who want to take their skills to the next level will be able to join Pro Formance instructors along with atom aged goalies in our Thunderbirds Goalie School:

Fridays from 4:15 - 5:15 pm at Kitsilano Arena starting October 12 and running for 12 sessions with the last session being on January 25. Cost $650.  Please click here to registerSpace is limited and spaces will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis at each age level.  

Note: the Thunderbird Goalie School will not have sessions on the following dates: November 9, December 21, December 28, January 4.

Additional Skills Opportunity - Novice Skaters

To supplement the regular ice times provided, an optional skills session will be provided for our Novice skaters led by Brian Busenius.  The sessions will take place on a rotational basis between each age division. Players must sign up to participate.  Schedule may alter based on venue availability however it is currently set as follows:

Novice Minor: October 11, October 25, November 8, November 22, December 6, January 10, January 24 - click here to register.

Novice Major: October 18, November 1, November 15, November 29, December 13, January 17, January 31 - click here to register.


All sessions occur on Thursdays from 6:45 - 7:45 pm at Kits Arena.