It is 6:59 on a Monday night in late October. In less than a minute the sounds of youth hockey will fill the air as the “Maksymum Hockey Radio Show” powers up.
Inside Studio B of radio station WYSL in Avon, N.Y., Jeff Kolcon, Dave Maksymiu, Tony Maksymiu and Brian Guck sit together, going over last- minute notes as the show is seconds away from beginning its weekly live broadcast.
The “Maksymum Hockey Radio Show” is the only show of its kind in the United States, or maybe the world for that matter. Each week the “Fab Four” get together and talk about something near and dear to their hearts — grass-roots hockey.
Interviewing players of all ages is not out of the question. Parents and coaches are in the mix as well. Special guests add a bit of sizzle to the program. On this night, two-time U.S. Olympian Shelley Looney and early NHL Rookie of the Year candidate Patrick Kane, a homegrown talent from down the road in Buffalo, are on the docket.
“When we started, we decided to take a narrow focus of youth hockey in the area,” says Kolcon. “So every show we’ve done in the past five years centers around, and comes back to, youth hockey.”
The crew looks at each other with collective grins on their faces as the intro to “the voice of youth hockey” begins. In less than 60 minutes a “normal” 11-hour day will be over for the Maksymum guys.
“Let’s see how everything comes together with everything we talked about eight hours ago,” remarks Kolcon just seconds before his mike goes live.
Just 10 hours earlier Kolcon, the Maksymiu brothers and Guck had arrived at the ESL Centre, located on the campus of Monroe Community College in Rochester, for the beginning of another “work week.”
“It’s great work to have if you can find it,” says a smiling Kolcon, sitting in a conference room on the second floor of the ESL Centre.
And it’s been a great ride since Dave Maksymiu started Maksymum Hockey 15 years ago. The former minor league player started by running hockey camps in the Rochester area, and was joined by his brother, Tony, and Kolcon as they ventured off into the world of radio.
“Really, the partnership for us in the business all revolved around the Maksymum Hockey Radio Show,” recalls Kolcon.
“The rest, as they say, is history.”
Maksymum Hockey is billed as the nation’s premier hockey development company. It is split into three areas, including private lessons, goaltending and team training.
Their students range in age and experience from 4-year-old beginners to 20-year-old major college and Junior players.
Under its umbrella, Maksymum Hockey also includes Maksymum Junior Hockey Club, summer camps, Rapid Shot as well as Athletic Republic.
What makes Maksymum Hockey work is the fact that the four individuals involved in the radio show, plus a fifth member, Noah Fehrenbach, are all ex-players and current USA Hockey coaches within youth hockey. In fact, all five work with kids on a daily basis at the ESL Centre.
“We had played on some teams together and coached in some camps together back in our younger days,” says Kolcon. “Ironically, the Maksymiu brothers and I were all born in the Flint, Mich., area within a few miles of each other.
“How we all ended up in Rochester together could be termed as simply fate. But it has all worked out for us.”
Recently another partner has stepped up to work with Maksymum Hockey: USA Hockey.
“USA Hockey has embraced us wholeheartedly. They want to be an active partner with us,” remarks Kolcon.
“We are in contact with USA Hockey weekly. They make suggestions to us as to a theme we might want to work with.”
It’s a partnership that has worked out well for everyone involved in the game.
“The Maksymum guys do a great job of promoting youth hockey, not only in New York but around the country,” says Kevin McLaughlin, USA Hockey’s director of youth hockey and a frequent guest on the show.
“They work very hard to educate players, parents and coaches about all facets of youth hockey. They get great guests, from youth hockey to international and pro coaches who offer great insight about our game.”
Like any great team, the Maksymum boys know that they’re only as good as their last outing. That’s why they continue to look for new ways to keep the content fresh.
“Probably the biggest breath of fresh air we’ve added to our broadcast was Brian Guck (the radio show’s coordinator). He helped develop the linking process for us,” says Kolcon.
“Plus, he does a lot of the taped interviews we use on the show.”
Guck plays a big role in the show on this late October evening when the theme of the program is “What makes hockey fun?” The show rolls along with a live phone interview with Looney as well as a taped interview with Kane that was recorded earlier in the day.
“I still find it so cool to interview NHL players like Kane,” says Guck. “The interviews with NHLers usually deal with their days as a youth.
“We really think kids can relate to that.”
The show moves along with several callers calling in with their thoughts about what makes hockey fun. Included in the callers is Randy Cunnneyworth (coach of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League) and Wayne Wilson (men’s hockey coach at Rochester Institute of Technology).
Bob Janosz gives his weekly goaltending tip. Then the four co-hosts pick their three stars of the night from weekend games.
Before they know it, the show is over with for another week.
“It moves so fast,” says Kolcon. “And the shows just keep getting better each week.
“It’s amazing how far the show has come in a little over five years. But what is even more amazing is where this show can go.
“For those of us involved with the Maksymum Hockey Show, the sky is the limit. We are one-of-a-kind.
“And we’re growing every week.”