Slapshots: Make it or Break it at Main Camp
By Merrick Parnell, Junior Hockey Scout
Your hard work this past season has earned you an invite to a junior team’s main camp. These camps are your time to shine and to show that you can play at the next level.
Main camps are part of the process to play junior hockey (check out the previous article on things you should do to play junior hockey: link here: ) and are essential because it allows teams to bring in their new top prospects to compete with their current personnel. All through the camp players will be evaluated by the club’s scouting staff, coaching staff, and front office staff.
This article will help identify what those scouts and evaluators will be watching for, and it will give you a good idea on what you need to do to show well at camp and hopefully earn a roster spot.
Most camps will have a similar format of on-ice training sessions and exhibition games. Evaluators will watch you closely, especially during the on-ice games, to see how you do in live in-game scenarios. Although evaluations can be advanced and sophisticated with a lot of categories, they will mostly boil down to three categories:
– Hockey Skills.
– Hockey Sense/IQ
You can’t play the game if you can’t skate. Skating is an important aspect because it will often times help to make a play. If a player can use speed and agility to enter into open ice to make a pass or receive a pass, that is something that is noticed.
Another significant factor that is recognized is the ability to recover. The ability to change direction, or catch up to the play, is huge. On the defensive end, scouts will look at how well you can keep position on the puck carrier or how hard you back and forecheck. Skating can make or break your showing at a camp, so focus on it often. Working with a power skating coach is never a bad thing, especially when leading up to camp.
Hockey skills encompass passing, shooting and stick work. Scouts will look at how well you can do these things, and it is essential to take the extra second to make sure you make the play. Smooth tape to tape passes, an array of shots with accuracy and velocity, and the ability to control the puck will go a long way in impressing evaluators.
This category is the toughest one to evaluate because it is built upon so much of the intangibles and subjective opinion. In a nutshell, scouts will look at effort and level of compete in this category and also vision. Prospects can score highly in this by demonstrating anticipation, split decision thinking, and being able to read and see plays develop. Hustle is also a considerable part of this category, and believe me, scouts will notice if players “dog it” during shifts, especially if they skate slowly back to the bench during a change. Be willing to work hard and be ready to use your intellect to make smart hockey plays, and you will be fine.
Showing well at camps by excelling in these categories will go a long way in helping you prepare for junior hockey. Make sure you take the time to prepare for camps with skating and skills sessions. Another good tip is to arrive a day early to the camp, check out the rink and the facilities, and try and do a skate (or at least dry land workout) so your body can become acclimated to the climate, altitude, time change, and other factors.
Above all, remember to stay humble, work hard, and play smart, and your hockey future will remain full of hope and promise no matter where you play.
Slapshots: How Hockey Became Part of my Lifestyle
A Guest Piece by Derek Harper, Seattle Totems Beat Writer
I was never really the type to fit in, that is until I found hockey in sixth grade. Sixth grade was when I knew I wanted to be a sports broadcaster for a career and when I found hockey which made me want to broadcast that sport specifically. Sixth grade was when I attended my first Western Hockey League (WHL) game between the Portland Winterhawks and visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. After taking in that game I was hooked on hockey and have attended Winterhawks games ever since.
Around that same time, I started volunteering for the Fort Vancouver Vipers of the regional Junior-A Tier-3 and now defunct Northern Pacific Hockey League (NPHL). The Vipers ceased operations after six games, three at home, due to lack of players and increase in player injuries. I did play-by-play and color commentary for the three home games the team had. I was devastated when they folded because I loved broadcasting the home games and being part of the organization. Shortly after they folded I got the chance to do color commentary for one game for the West Sound Warriors of the NPHL in a game they won in a shootout over the Bellingham Blazers.
Shortly after the Vipers folded I found out Portland State had a club hockey team, so I got in touch and started volunteering for them. They competed in Division Two of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The following season I began volunteering for the Vancouver Rangers, a new Junior-A team that competed in the Tier-2 Western States Hockey League (WSHL). Around the time the Rangers hit the ice, I launched WSHL 365 which includes a Facebook page and fan forum, Twitter account (@wshl_365), and website (www.wshl365.wordpress.com). For the Rangers I did various tasks including getting the privilege to do play-play-play with one of the broadcasters for the team.
For the Vikings I did different tasks including joining the broadcaster for the Washington Huskies for a game when they were in town. Soon after I joined UW’s broadcaster for the one game, I started calling games on my own where I really found my passion. The Rangers stayed in Vancouver for two seasons before relocating to Bremerton where they became the West Sound Warriors before ceasing operations after one season. The West Sound Admirals have since replaced them in time for the 2018-19 season.
Around the time the Rangers left, the Vikings ended up not playing another season which left me with nowhere to volunteer which felt a bit odd. However, I had some excitement for a short time. I landed a game day operations internship with the Winterhawks, however after little contact, I never worked a game. For the 2018-19 WSHL season, I’ll be a beat writer for the Seattle Totems.
I’ve attended three Vancouver Canucks games and was very impressed with the experience. I’ll always enjoy attending Winterhawks games, but once I experienced an NHL game I realized that’s what I want to be part of in the future. From player introductions to the pace of the game and everything in between, the NHL is top notch. When you walk around Vancouver you see people in Canucks gear, decorations, advertisements. These are just a few things that show much the team means to the city.
I’ve acquired a great amount of knowledge about the game of hockey. I’ve learned about the game itself and things not directly related to the game such as the saying of how hockey is a family. Not only is hockey a family, but it’s a lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what age you start following hockey, where you discover it, or how you discover it. It doesn’t matter if you’re involved with the game somehow such as volunteering for a team or just attending games. Once hockey becomes part of your lifestyle it’s with you forever.
About the Author:
Derek Harper is a Sophomore at Central Washington University (CWU). He plans to major in communications with a focus on broadcasting in his pursuit of a sports broadcasting career. Starting this season, he’ll be a beat writer for the Seattle Totems of the WSHL. During the summer he works as an office assistant at Harper Houf Peterson Righellis (HHPR) Inc. and as a member of the Hillsboro Hops Game Day Staff.
Slapshots: Want to Play Junior Hockey? The Steps Prospects Need to Take if They Want to Achieve their playing goals.
By Merrick Parnell, Junior Hockey Scout
For many, a lot of young hockey players grow up wanting to play Junior Hockey in the United States or Canada. Junior Hockey is an excellent opportunity to continue playing the game at a high level and also earn college scholarships and playing opportunities. Some players from tier 1 in the United States and Canada might get an opportunity to play at the pro level. The road to playing junior hockey can often be daunting and confusing, with all of the leagues and options out there but many players make one huge mistake, they wait for teams to come to them. If you want to set yourself up with a substantial Junior Hockey opportunities, be proactive, do not wait for teams to come to you. Here are some ways that you can take your destiny into your own hands.
Get to know the game
Junior Hockey is vastly different from minor hockey. The players are older, the speed is faster, and the play is more skilled. Each Junior league has its own identity and style of play. Take the time to watch games from teams you are interested in and reach out to players to ask questions about the teams and league.
Know your skill set, and don’t be afraid to get feedback from others. Many players miss out on great opportunities because they are trying to jump up to the high levels of junior without having the skill set to do so. Most new and young junior players will try and play a year at the Tier III level of Junior Hockey in the States or with a Junior B club in Canada. These experiences allow for players to grow, mature and develop at a reasonable rate. After each season, players from these levels will look to move up to a higher league or seek an affiliate opportunity with a team.
Showcases are typically weekend-long events that are designed to assemble a lot of players into teams that will play exhibition games. These games are often attended by a lot of scouts from a variety of leagues. Scouts like attending these camps because its an excellent way to view a ton of players all at once. Furthermore, scouts will have easy access to players before and after games to introduce themselves and gauge interests. Many motivated scouts will try and arrange a meeting with potential players and their families to establish a report. There are several Showcases out there, and it is essential to select the one that will best expose you. Take into consideration these factors.
- Location. Look for camps held in easy to reach places. Many scouts will go to the showcases that are the easiest for them to go to. Accessible camps are usually held in larger cities with good airports and lots of hotels. Scouts would gladly attend camps in Denver, Las Vegas, Calgary, Alberta Vancouver, B.C over smaller towns in Northern B.C, Alberta or remote united states. Camps in larger cities or ones that are accessible is also beneficial to you because it makes it easier and cheaper for you, the prospect to attend.
- Who is putting on the camps: It is important to note who is putting on the camp. Is it a large company like CCM that puts on tons of camps, or an independent camp that just focuses on one city for one date. Often times the individual leagues or teams will host their own camps. I would recommend the independent camps over the super camps for a few reasons. The first is cost, the CCM camps usually charge a lot more than the local camps, the second is the number of attendees. At bigger camps its easier to be just another player or number, its way harder to get looks if you are among 500 skaters than if you’re with smaller numbers.
- Know who is attending?: Do your homework and find out what teams will be participating and if any of those teams are ones you are interested in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to coaches beforehand and mention you will be at the camp. They will appreciate them, and might even plan to watch you more than some of the others that didn’t reach out.
After you have attended showcases, the ball is in your court. It is crucial that you do the following.
Create a highlight film and have access to full game film
Make sure you have a highlight film and game tape ready to send. Not every scout and coach has time to see players as much as they want, so the film becomes a way for them to view you and your abilities. With this knowledge, they can begin to assess where you would fit in with their team. Create a Youtube channel and upload your film to it. This is the best way for coaches and scouts to view you because
Create a player profile
A player profile is like a resume that coaches and scouts will look at. Be sure to include, your height, weight, and stats from the past few years and also a profile picture. Also, list some of your strengths and attributes as a player. This profile becomes like an advertisement for yourself and skills.
Identify which teams you want to play for and show your interest by contacting them. Give them a call or email and introduce yourself. In the email also include your links to film and a schedule of games so they can watch you. Doing this will help you get some exposure and hopefully move on the team’s priority list. Make sure you tell the coaches what you can offer them as a player and how you can help the club.
Invest in yourself
Take the time to work with a power skating or skills coach to develop. Many Junior prospects will hire an off ice trainer for workouts to stay in shape and build hockey specific strength.
Get invites to team camps
After reaching out to the coaches, find out when the camps are and try and earn an invite. Typically, two camps exist in Junior.
1: I.D camps: This is a camp where teams will bring in up to 120 prospects and will attempt to select 40 from this list to bring into the main camp. These camps occur in the spring and is a great time to check out the team and play at that level while also getting feedback from the coaching staff in exit interviews. If you are a younger player, these are great to get discovered and put in the team’s database and system. From there, they will be able to track you over the next few years, and possibly have you as an affiliate player.
- Main camp: These are where the teams will cut the roster of 40 down to the league’s roster minimum. These are like training camps to learn the team’s systems and become familiar with the organization and the players. Main Camps are competitive as the veterans have to battle at times to keep their sports from the incoming players.
Stay motivated and train hard in the offseason.
The offseason is a great way to stay in shape and train hard. Spend time in the gym building your strength and stamina. Also, take advantage of ice times to sharpen your skills to make sure that you are in the best form when the main camp starts for your junior team.
Playing Junior Hockey can be the opportunity of a lifetime. It is indeed a great chance to grow as a player and a person. It will at times have its struggles but overcoming will be worth it. Take playing seriously and look for ways to get better and you will excel.
If you are interested in playing Junior Hockey, contact the Northern Scouting Network. They are a great resource that can help answer questions and advise you on playing Junior Hockey. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Merrick Parnell can be followed on Twitter at: @Merk8989
Slapshots: Scouting Hockey in the Big Sky State
By Merrick Parnell
In Montana, you never know what you’re going to get weather-wise. One day you might be enjoying the sunniest and warmest of temperatures, only to endure a blizzard the next.
This same unpredictability goes for hockey in the big sky state.
Although Montana is considered part of the northern country, bordering Canada, the game of hockey here is surprisingly still developing, and due to this is often an afterthought to most.
Hockey often gets outshined by the bright Friday night lights of small-town high school football or drowned out by the sounds of a cheering basketball gym.
Those who play the game of hockey here play for the love of the game, often traveling up to 5 hours on end to play in rinks across the state. It is a labor of love and an investment in passion.
Like the players in Montana, I do what I do for the love of the game and to help develop young talent. I’m a hockey scout.
A team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) gave me my first scouting opportunity, in an industry that I’ve worked hard to reach. For the AJHL my assigned region was the state of Montana, which is where I reside in a small ranching and college town known as Dillon in the Southwest Corner of the State known the world over as Big Sky Country. Since my AJHL job, I have also got the opportunity to work for Montana State University and their ACHA hockey club as a head scout. When I’m not scouting, I am attending the University of Montana Western, working towards acquiring my teaching credentials.
Montana Is an area that sometimes gets passed over by the Hockey world in favor of promising talent from a more traditional hockey market such as Minnesota, as scouts continue on the eternal quest to find the next Gordie Howe or Bobby Orr.
The state has only graduated one Western Hockey League player, Bill Lindsay, who played for the Tri-City Americans and later played in the National Hockey League after being drafted 103rd overall in the 1991 Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, and it’s my goal to find the next one. The next stop for a player with that potential is to play in the AJHL.
When scouting during the at-times unforgiving winter, my weekends consist of traveling across stunning landscapes, with filled views of mountains, prairies, and forests. It’s often a solitary drive, in which Alan Jackson’s country music or hockey podcasts are my only companions.
However, once I get to the rink, it is all worth it. I live to watch the game in its purest form. The world of hockey can be small, but it can also reach pretty far. I’m always running into old friends, contacts, and familiar faces. I love the way that this beautiful game unites people under a shared enjoyment. When I am at the rink, I am with family.
While the NHL hosts and promotes a few outdoor games every year to showcase their sport, some of the younger teams I watch play outdoors almost every game, as that is the only facility or asset they have to play in.
I enjoy the evaluations, the speculation and the analyzation of prospects. I love speaking with coaches and meeting players and their families. To me, scouting is a dream job that takes me to towns I wouldn’t have otherwise ventured to.
My travels take me away from home a lot, but like they say “Home is where the Heart is” and my heart is anywhere that hockey is.
About the Author:
Merrick Parnell is a Junior Hockey Scout in the AJHL and also serves as the Head Scout for Montana State University Hockey. Aside from scouting Parnell has worked as an advisor, media correspondent and analyst for several junior hockey teams. He also coaches minor hockey in the state of Montana and runs a “Learn to Play” Program with the Dillon Amateur Hockey Association.
Away from hockey he earning his teaching credentials to be a secondary social studies teacher from the University of Montana Western in Dillon.
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