This past weekend, the USPHL held a FREE combine/showcase for junior hockey hopefuls in downtown Chicago, IL. The event itself was quite the success especially since it was thrown together just late in the spring.
The event itself was held in the relatively new Fifth Third Arena, which is home to the Chicago Blackhawks practice facility and featured two sheets of ice, an off ice facility with artificial turf, and a nice media room for all the coaches and scouts to hang out in.
With TJHP being in the building, here are some of the things we noticed:
First off, it was free hockey and exposure and there were plenty of eyes for players to be seen by. The USPHL did a great job of having programs from all over their league be in attendance, especially helping on the benches.
One of the coolest parts of the event was having Chicago Blackhawks Strength and Conditioning coach Paul Goodman with his company “Goodman Elite Training” on site in the off ice facility putting the players through the wringer in a variety of different tests.
The players also had the ability to take part in speaker symposiums from guest coaches from the NCDC and other USPHL Premier teams as well as get a locker room tour of the Blackhawks locker room.
Each game consisted of four, 15-minute running clock periods and there was some good talent on the ice to be seen. Some of the team rosters were larger than others, but that might have been due to players not showing up.
I think one area I’d like to have seen done a bit better was the player evaluations that were done. I know from some players I spoke to, their evals weren’t finished or basically gave no comments outside of some scores. Again, it’s a free combine, but if I’m a player looking to play junior hockey, I would really hope the evaluations I was getting were somewhat beneficial or done correctly.
Overall, the players received an hour practice, an off ice testing session, a goaltending session and three 60 minute games. For the absolute cost of nothing besides gas and maybe a hotel room if the player was from out of state, it was an absolute steal of an event.