2021 USPHL NCDC Combine In Detroit A Great Success For Players, Teams
By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 04/25/21, 5:45PM EDT
The first of two USPHL NCDC Combines took place on Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, at Mount Clemens Ice Arena in suburban Detroit, Mich.
Several teams from both divisions of the National Collegiate Development Conference were in attendance to scout 210 players. Organizations representing every one of the nine transcontinental USPHL Premier divisions, and all four USPHL Elite divisions, were in attendance to scout and offer player opportunities at those levels as well.
Throughout the weekend, there were 15 games (three for each of 10 teams put together by the event organizers), in addition to two Goaltender-specific training sessions and a USPHL NCDC Informational Seminar on Friday afternoon.
The seminar featured new USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow, as well as fellow League Office members John Rose (Deputy Commissioner / USPHL Premier and Elite) and Frank Scarpaci (South Director / USPHL Premier and Elite), along with Jim Hunt, a member of the USPHL Executive Committee and President/Associate Head Coach of the NCDC’s Dineen Cup Champion Jersey Hitmen.
Additionally, event host Justin Quenneville of the Metro Jets was joined by NCDC coaches from the Connecticut Jr. Rangers (Jim Henkel) and P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (Mike Marcou).
“Our job at the USPHL is to help advance you to a higher level of hockey, whether that be the NCDC, to a higher level of junior hockey, or to college hockey,” said Turow, to a crowd of more than 150 players and parents learning about the Nation’s Largest Amateur Hockey League. “I’m very proud and it’s very important for me as the Commissioner of the League that we are a pathway to college for everybody in this room or everyone who plays in this league, whether that be Division I hockey, Division III hockey or ACHA. We want to be seen as your pathway to college.”
“It’s a very unique ‘cradle to college’ model of player development,” said Hunt, who helped create both the USPHL and the NCDC as its top, tuition-free division. He went on to underscore the importance of being a good student, regardless of your level of play. “What we focus on is what kind of student are you? We [as the Hitmen] know what kind of hockey player a certain player is, but we ask him ‘Tell us about your Mom and Dad,’ we ask about their siblings if they have them, but most importantly we ask ‘What kind of student are you?'”
“You have a lot of choices. There are a lot of leagues,” added Scarpaci, who is the owner of the Florida Eels, who field teams at the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite levels. “This league epitomizes the concept of player development, and brings it to the next level.”
He went on to talk about the amazing success of the USPHL, which has sent more than 2,000 players on to college hockey in its eight years. More than 3,200 players have advanced to college hockey from all of the USPHL’s Member Organizations.
Throughout the weekend, NCDC, Premier and Elite coaches jumped behind the bench to coach prospective future USPHL talent. Additionally, everywhere you looked after every game, players and their parents were meeting and exchanging information with teams to make connections for future opportunities whether in 2021-22 or beyond.
The games were fast and very even in most cases as players put out every ounce of energy they had to work towards a potential spot in the No. 1 league for player advancement, whether that be from one level of junior to the next higher, or directly into college hockey.
The USPHL thanks all of the 210 players, and in many cases their parents as well, for attending and participating, as well as the more than 40 distinct USPHL organizations from coast to coast that sent representatives for making this a fantastic event from start to finish.
The USPHL also thanks the on-and off-ice officials who worked the games and made every on-ice event run smoothly.
To top it off, the staff of the host Metro Jets and their home rink, the Mount Clemens Ice Arena, went above and beyond in their hospitality and service to all of the participants, coaches and the League from before dawn Friday morning straight to Saturday evening, and the USPHL thanks them immensely for their efforts.
The next USPHL NCDC Combine will take place May 14-15 in Chicago, Ill., at Fifth Third Arena, the practice home of the Chicago Blackhawks and new home of the USPHL Premier’s Chicago Cougars. Player registration for that event is sold out.