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Opportunities always abound at the USPHL NCDC Combine Series, which has been run since 2019 to offer players the chance to skate in front of Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference coaches in Chicago and Detroit. 

The knock on the door was loud and clear for Las Vegas native Ian Williams, whose performance at the Combine was so impressive that he was able to sign an NCDC Tender at the event, guaranteeing himself a spot at the Connecticut Jr. Rangers’ Main Camp and finding a spot on their 70-Man Protected List, which includes players certain to make the 2022-23 roster plus future prospects for coming years. 

Williams, a 2003-born native of Las Vegas, Nev., was certainly happy with his choice to go to the USPHL NCDC Combine this year. 

“I learned about the USPHL NCDC Combine series by looking up the NCDC camps online and saw the one in Chicago. I thought it would be a good opportunity,” said Williams, who attended the Chicago Combine held at the Fifth Third Arena in downtown Chicago, Ill., a facility that also serves as the Practice Home Of The Chicago Blackhawks. 

“I had a positive experience at the combine. I got a lot of ice in and also some off-ice work,” he added. “The off-ice portion of the Combine was a nice addition to the usual game setup of combines and provided another opportunity to excel and stand out.”

The off-ice part of the Chicago Combine was run by Paul Goodman, who is the Blackhawks’ Strength and Conditioning Coach and also runs the Goodman Elite Training facility on the premises. 

It was after his third of three guaranteed games at the Combine that Williams was approached by Connecticut Jr. Rangers Head Coach Jim Henkel. 

“He approached me after my last game at the camp,” said Williams. “My individual performance at the Combine was good. I felt I played pretty well and I think my confidence and skills from the past two seasons developing in Wenatchee (not only with the U18AAA team but also with the time I spent participating in the BCHL practies) helped me stick out to the Connecticut staff.

“I thought it was a great opportunity and I enjoyed the camp a lot,” added Williams. “There were numerous scouts and coaching staff from all over the USPHL and NCDC in attendance, which is why you go to these things.”

Watch for the announcements for the 2023 USPHL NCDC Combine series in February 2023. 

 

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders NCDC Goalie Smith Committed To St. Lawrence University

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 05/19/2022, 12:30pm EDT

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders NCDC goalie Cam Smith is extremely excited to be heading to the NCAA Division I realm with St. Lawrence University. 

That said, he’s going to miss his carpools with four other P.A.L. teammates every day to practice.

“I lived with a bunch of other guys on the team, and we had a long drive to the rink,” said the 2002-born native of Stamford, Conn. “It was five guys in the car every day, so we had some great talks and I got closer with every one of my teammates throughout the season.” 

He’ll get a chance to bond with a new set of teammates as he moves north and west to the St. Lawrence campus at Canton, N.Y. He’s on the right track in terms of chemistry as he struck up a great rapport with the St. Lawrence coaches during the year-long recruiting process. 

“I originally reached out to them during my senior year of high school [at Hotchkiss School], but we didn’t end up having any games that season,” added Smith, referring to the 2020-21 campaign when many high school hockey seasons were canceled. “I knew that playing juniors would be a chance to prove myself. I told them I’d be playing for P.A.L. in the NCDC, and they said they’d be watching me. I kept trying to improve my game and get better every month and it worked out.” 

By November - just over a month into the season - Smith was leading in wins (seven), goals against average (1.93) and save percentage (.943). He was also the league leader in GAA and save percentage in December, and the save percentage leader in January. In the end, he came across the line with a .920 save percentage and a 2.81 goals against average, both keeping him in the Top 10 for the season. 

“The [St. Lawrence] coaches were so nice about the entire process, always checking in,” said Smith. “They kept talking with me and after the season, I moved on to play in the USHL. After my season ended there, I went up to campus for a tour and they offered me a spot.

“When I was on campus,” he added, “it was just a great feeling, everyone smiling and saying Hi, a real community feeling. They also have a ton of new renovations and new facilities, so it just made me feel comfortable and made me want to play Division I hockey at that school.” 

He is also greatly indebted to P.A.L. NCDC Head Coach Mike Marcou for giving him a chance to make the team last year after a season without games in 2020-21. 

“I went to the NCDC Showcase last year and after my second game there, Coach Marcou offered me a tender,” said Smith. “That showcase was a great way to showcase myself in front of the coaches. He told me I could be a No. 1 guy, and I just got that feeling this was a coach who would believe in me.” 

Unfortunately, Marcou’s cancer and treatments kept him off the bench for much of the 2021-22 season. Smith worked mostly with Assistant Coach Bobby Goepfert, who was himself a former P.A.L. player and NCAA Division I goaltender, first with Providence and then at St. Cloud State. Goepfert was a two-time All-American in 2006 and 2007, both years at St. Cloud State. 

“Goepfert took over as head coach during the season so he was balancing running the full team and also keeping an eye on the goalies,” said Smith, whose creasemate Harrison Chesney is also going the NCAA Division I route with Northeastern. “Marcou is going to be back this year, and he has a fire under him now, so Bobby will be able to more involved with the incoming P.A.L. goalies.” 

What kind of goaltender is St. Lawrence gaining? 

“They said they like my calmness and quickness. I’m calm in stressful situations and I can also be quick on saves in second and third opportunities That balance of quickness and patience, if you can prove it in NCDC, you can develop in the NCAA as well,” said Smith. 

Smith is focusing more on his off-ice conditioning during the off-season, while still getting on the ice as many as three times per week.

“Throughout the six-month regular season, you have to contain bad habits and get stronger throughout. I need to maintain my quickness and patience and just get my body ready for the upcoming season,” added Smith. 

When he gets to St. Lawrence, of course, he’ll be spending much more time on academics than hockey, and that is also a challenge he welcomes. 

“I’m looking into psychology and economics. When I was at Hotchkiss, I took some courses with some professors who were interested in psychology, in terms of how the brain works and helping other people,” said Smith. “ With economics, I can get a better understanding of the economy and what’s happening in the world.”

The USPHL congratulates Cam Smith, his family, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and St. Lawrence University for his commitment. 

This past week, NHL Central Scouting released its Final Rankings for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, which will be held July 7-8, 2022, in Montreal, Quebec.

This will be the first public draft since 2019, with the 2020 and 2021 Drafts being held by conference call and the results broadcast on TV, all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 

The National Collegiate Development Conference has had a direct effect on the interest in many players on the Final Rankings, especially the 40th and 71st-ranked skaters - former Boston Junior Bruins Cameron Lund and Jackson Dorrington, as well as the No. 7-ranked goaltender Cameron Whitehead, formerly of the Utica Jr. Comets. 

Lund and Dorrington were a forward and defenseman, respectively for the Boston Junior Bruins during the 2020-21 season. Whitehead suited up as a goaltender with Utica Jr. Comets in what shaped up to be a very unpredictable year in that same 2020-21 campaign. 

Despite the many health issues and restrictions that season at the height of COVID-19, each of the above-mentioned players played a full season of better than 40 games in accordance with local regulations, and with a strict league COVID protocol. The NCDC was one of very few leagues in North America to put together a full regular season mostly aligned with its planned schedule, in order to showcase its players and avoid losing a year of visibility and exposure.

A big part of these efforts to keep players on the ice was the USPHL creating the Hub City Tampa Initiative, bringing all the NCDC teams (in addition to Premier and Elite teams that elected to join in) to Florida to play within a closed community concept. Players shuttled only between a closed condo resort and the rinks at which they played.  

These players were also part of the NCDC All-Star Events held during Hub City Tampa in January and February of 2021. At the All-Star events, they played in front of NHL scouts, including the NHL Central Scouting Senior Manager David Gregory. Even before they stepped on the ice for their first USHL games in 2021-22, Lund and Dorrington were already on Draft Watch Lists for 2022 due to their efforts in their NCDC season of 2020-21. 

Here is a full breakdown of all the USPHL talent - current and former - that received Final Rankings for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. 


 

North American Goalies

3. Dylan Silverstein (Islanders Hockey Club, USPHL 16U 2018-19)

Silverstein (‘04/Calabasas, Calif.) helped the Islanders Hockey Club win the USPHL 16U National Championship in 2019. During the regular season, he played 13 games and went 10-2 on the season. He played for the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2021-22, earning a Silver Medal at the World Under-18 Championships.

 

4. Tyler Muszelik (Rockets Hockey Club, USPHL 16U 2019-20)

Muszelik (‘04/Long Valley, N.J.) never lost a USPHL game in his time in the league, going 8-0 in the regular season and 2-0, all as a true 15U player (the Rockets 15U team played as the Rockets HC Black team in the USPHL 16U American Division in 2019-20). The University of New Hampshire recruit played for the U.S. National Team Development Program’s 18U squad. 

 

7. Cameron Whitehead (Utica Jr. Comets, NCDC 2020-21)

Whitehead (‘03/Orleans, Ont.) gets another shot at the NHL Draft, as he was among those listed in the Final Rankings for the 2021 Draft. Whitehead was the clear No. 1 for the 2020-21 Jr. Comets, as he played in 29 regular season and two playoff games for the campaign. He tended nets for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. 

 

21. Beau Lane (Boston Advantage, USPHL 16U 2020-21)  

This 2004-born native of Pembroke, Mass., was part of the Advantage’s 16U team that saw four regular season games and three more playoff games in a COVID-shortened Midget season. The longtime Advantage product won four of his seven USPHL appearances, including two in the playoffs. 

 

International Goalies

5. Karlis Meszargs (Florida Eels, USPHL Elite 2019-20)

The 2003-born native of Riga, Latvia, suited up for the Florida Eels of the USPHL Elite during the 2019-20 season, tending the Eels net for 17 games and posting a 2.52 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. He currently plays for HK Riga in Russia’s MHL.  

 

North American Skaters 

40. Cameron Lund, C (Boston Junior Bruins, NCDC 2020-21)

The 2004-born Lund grew up in Bridgewater, Mass., and played youth hockey for both the South Shore Kings and Junior Bruins. Years later, he would be a major cog in the machine for the 2020-21 Junior Bruins NCDC team, from which he committed to Northeastern along with teammate Jackson Dorrington. Last season, Lund posted 17-17-34 totals in 40 games, and he added six more points in six playoff games. Lund is currently playing in the USHL for the Green Bay Gamblers. 

 

70. Ryan Healey, D (Boston Advantage, USPHL 16U/NCDC 2020-21)

Healey, a teammate at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup of Jackson Dorrington and Cameron Lund, played in four USPHL 16U games, posting four points. He also played in two NCDC games. The ‘04 Hull, Mass., native is committed to Harvard University after playing for his current team, the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. 

 

71. Jackson Dorrington, D (Boston Junior Bruins, NCDC 2020-21)

Dorrington, an ‘04, committed to Northeastern University while with the Junior Bruins last season. He played the full season for Mike Anderson’s squad, posting two goals and 18 assists for 20 points in 33 regular season games. He also added three assists in six postseason games as the Junior Bruins advanced to the NCDC Dineen Cup semifinals. He is currently playing in the USHL for the Des Moines Buccaneers, after playing for Team USA in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup this summer. 

 

173. Jacob Guevin, D (Northwood School, USPHL 18U 2019-20)

A Nebraska-Omaha commit, the ‘03 out of Drummondville, Que., played in 12 USPHL 18U league games in 2019-20, posting a 5-11-16 line. He added an assist in three playoff games. He currently plays for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. 

 

203. Jackson Kyrkostas (Islanders Hockey Club, NCDC, 18U, 16U, 15U 2018-22) 

The former USPHL 16U National Champion committed earlier this year to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He split this past season between the Islanders organization and Kimball Union Academy, including a pair of NCDC games in which he scored one goal. He is committed to play for the Islanders’ NCDC squad for the 2022-23 season before moving on to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

 

The USPHL wishes the best of luck to all of the above-listed players at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. 

2022 NCDC Entry Draft Results Announced

By USPHL Staff 05/11/2022, 8:00pm EDT

This evening, the United States Premier Hockey League and its Tier II Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference held its NCDC Entry Draft. 

There will be more than 300 players, all of 2005 and 2006 birth years, selected on Wednesday evening. They will become part of their team's 70-man Protected List going forward. Similar to NHL Draft Selections, 2022 NCDC Draft Selections are considered future prospects for their teams (in most cases). Follow along as we release the rounds on a rolling basis throughout the evening. 

After the first two rounds are released, go on over to Twitter.com/USPHL for special in-depth coverage of the first and second rounds and come back here as new rounds are being announced every 5-10 minutes! 

 

 

 

New Division Features Five Incoming Member Organizations Joining League

The United States Premier Hockey League is proud to announce the formation of the new Northwest Division of the Tier III Junior USPHL Premier League. The division will also feature five new members of the USPHL. Joining the USPHL are the Seattle Totems, Bellingham Blazers, Vernal Oilers, Rock Springs Prospectors and Rogue Valley Royals. 

The Totems and Blazers were longtime members of the Western States Hockey League, in which the Vernal Oilers played their inaugural season in 2019-20. The Rock Springs Prospectors and Rogue Valley Royals will both be in their first year of operation. 

“The USPHL’s 2020 expansion to the West Coast and Rocky Mountains was a huge success, and we are just as excited to welcome five new USPHL Premier League Members as we bring the Best Path To College Hockey to the Northwestern United States,” said USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow. “All of these organizations feature motivated individuals with player development and advancement as their top priorities, while playing in fan-driven, exciting atmospheres in their home arenas. The USPHL is now truly Coast to Coast and North to South. North America’s Largest Amateur Hockey Organization officially reaches from Florida to Washington State, and from Maine to California.” 

 

Seattle Totems

The Seattle Totems join the USPHL with the longest history, as they recently passed their 20th anniversary. Founded in 1999, the Totems began as an independent Midget AAA organization before playing in the former Pacific International Junior Hockey League. Under a USA Hockey mandate, they moved to the Northern Pacific Hockey League. They made five straight trips to the NORPAC finals between 2008 and 2012, and also made trips to the USA Hockey Junior National Championships. In 2012, they moved over to the WSHL and played there until 2019-20, that AAU-affiliated league’s most recent season. 

“After being dark for two years, we are looking forward to coming back. The USPHL Premier is the best place to be for our level,” said Owner, Head Coach and General Manager Mike Murphy. “Since the USPHL came into play, we were recruiting against their teams a lot of times, and they became the big dog. Instead of recruiting against the USPHL, we wanted to be a part of the League, with its record of development and advancement to higher levels of junior hockey and to college hockey.”  

“I think it’s great that the USPHL has gotten so big. We’re working on scheduling now so we’re looking forward to going to Boston and playing different teams,” added Murphy. “We’ve always played everybody and taken on all comers. We’re also excited to fire back up our rivalries with Bellingham and Medford, Ore. [home of the Rogue Valley Royals].” 

 

Bellingham Blazers

Located in the most northwestern-oriented city in the Lower 48 states, the Blazers are located just 15 minutes from the British Columbia-Washington border and about 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver. 

“We started out in the NORPAC [in 2012]. After Seattle left, that league was down to just four teams. We won the league twice, but we were looking for more competition and the WSHL was a great league when we joined [in 2016],” said Marc Ronney, Owner of the Blazers. 

“When that league was no longer an option for us in 2020, David Imonti [owner of Vernal and Rock Springs] first got involved in working with the USPHL, and it just made sense for all of us to get in together. We know the USPHL is a secure organization, so that we wouldn’t have to keep bouncing around between leagues. 

“Along with Mike in Seattle, we’re really excited to get back to hockey after two dormant years. Most of our games will be on the West Coast, obviously, but the showcases are what the kids really look forward to,” said Ronney. “We obviously also look forward to the first USPHL Las Vegas Showcase next winter. That will give us a great chance to get our players in front of a lot of college coaches. It’s just great to have so many teams across the United States to look at and potentially play against.” 

The USPHL also welcomes Bellingham Head Coach Mark MacDonald, General Manager Larry MacDonald and Alex McBeath to the League. 

 

Vernal Oilers / Rock Springs Prospectors

The Oilers played their first season in 2021-22 as members of the WSHL, but also played in the Can-Am Junior Hockey League. They started strong, winning their first 16 games and made it to the CAJHL Championship Game. 

However, after the departures of many teams, they found themselves as the only U.S. team remaining with their average road trips to Alberta set to be roughly 32 hours. Vernal is located in Utah, about 3 hours east. Rock Springs, Wyoming, is located two hours north. 

“For us, joining the USPHL has a lot to do with the convenience of having regional opponents and not having to cross an international border. We’ll also get to play established teams that are moving players on,” said Imonti, who is also Director of Hockey Operations for the Oilers. 

The Oilers’ coach from last year, Jeff Pfleegor, will take over as General Manager and the team is seeking a Head Coach and Assistant Coach. 

“The Rock Springs Prospectors were formed to be a travel partner with Vernal. We established that as a fan base that would be interested in having a team at this level,” added Imonti, who co-owns the Prospectors with Pfleegor and Joe D’Urso. They are seeking a General Manager, Head Coach and Assistant Coach. 

“The Vernal Oilers have become very popular in that community and it’s something the people are very much looking forward to in our second season.”

The Oilers were able to advance five players to both pro and NCAA Division III hockey, with more commitments expected in the coming days and weeks.  

“Our goal is always to move on as many players and we want to bring them in front of coaches’ eyes at showcases instead of relying on phone calls or e-mails,” said Imonti. “Helping to promote these players to college hockey teams is really our main objective.” 

 

Rogue Valley Royals 

Bobby and Ali Ruddle are the co-owners of the Rogue Valley Royals, and are certainly excited to get off to a great start in a new, coast-to-coast league like the USPHL. 

“We are getting it off the ground. I worked with the previous team here in Medford, Oregon, and I’m also the hockey director at the rink,” said Bobby Ruddle. 

Bobby is a USPHL alumnus, having played for the Florida Jr. Blades for three years, including in the USPHL’s inaugural season of 2013-14. 

“I am familiar with the USPHL Showcase Series and the teams on the East Coast. Even when I played, it was a rocking league with a lot of good schools going to see the games,” he said. “This opportunity was too good to pass up.” 

"As a Rogue Valley native, I know how much junior hockey means to this community, and I’m beyond excited to help return it to our area, and even more excited that it gets to be with the league I watched my husband play in,” said Ali Ruddle. “It feels very full circle for us.”

“We’re looking forward to participating in two showcases, including the one in Las Vegas. That helps with travel, and we’re really looking forward to playing these teams from different areas,” said Bobby Ruddle, also the GM/Head Coach of the Royals. “I also played for the Spartans [in 2010-11], so I’m looking forward to coaching against Seattle again and to face the other great teams out West.” 

 

The United States Premier Hockey League congratulates and welcomes all five new members of the USPHL Premier and its new Northwest Division, and wishes all teams best of luck as they build towards what should be an historic and fantastic 2022-23 season. 

 

About The USPHL

The United States Premier Hockey League of 2021-2022 is the nation’s largest amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States, from Maine to California, and from Florida to Washington State.

The USPHL fields approximately 550 teams representing over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20, including our Youth and Midget Divisions in the new Tier 1 Hockey Federation. Overall, across all its divisions, the USPHL had more than 1,300 alumni playing college hockey in 2021-22 and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL. The league’s top level, the Tuition Free Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference, led all North American Tier II leagues with three players selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. 

 

2022 NCDC Entry Draft: What You Need To Know

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 05/06/2022, 11:30am EDT

There will be well over 100 hockey futures getting brighter beginning next Wednesday, May 11, 2022, following the conclusion of the 2022 NCDC Entry Draft. Here is a handy guide of all you need to know about the Draft! 

 

Who Is Eligible? 

All players born between the years 2005 and 2006 are eligible to be drafted. Similar to NHL teams at the NHL Entry Draft, NCDC teams are building towards future year teams (in most cases) at the Draft. 

“The idea behind the NCDC Draft is that we’re looking at younger players, many being outside of our league footprint, in order that we may better inform players about the benefits of the Tier II Tuition-Free NCDC and its Pathway To College Hockey,” said Commissioner Bob Turow. 

 

How Many Rounds? 

There is no limit to the actual “rounds” of the NCDC Draft. Instead, teams are working to fill their 70-man protected lists. Some teams may draft 10, some may draft 15, and the new members Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Mercer Chiefs may draft several more than that as they have no returning players. 

 

How Are 70-Man Protected Lists Filled Aside Of The Draft? 

Returning age-eligible players, previously drafted players, signed tenders and additional organizational assets are all part of each NCDC team’s 70-Man Protected List. 

 

Until What Date Can NCDC Teams Tender Players? 

May 9 is the Tender Deadline. The 2022-23 Tender maximum is 14, which does not apply this year to Mercer and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. 

 

Where and When Can I Watch Coverage of the NCDC Entry Draft? 

The Dan K Show, the official Broadcast and Podcast Partner Of The USPHL, will present its Live Coverage of the NCDC Draft exclusively on the USPHL YouTube Channel beginning at 8 p.m. EST on May 11. The USPHL website, USPHL.com and the league’s social media accounts will release Draft results also beginning at 8 p.m. EST.

Watch USPHL Social Media for a link to the show itself. 

New Team Will Join Midwest West Division Of USPHL Premier

The United States Premier Hockey League is excited to announce the Minnesota Squatch will be joining the USPHL Premier’s Midwest West Division in 2022-23.

The new team, based in Elk River, Minnesota, will be co-owned by Chic Pojar and Sara Pojar.  Chic grew up playing in the “State of Hockey” and has been involved in the game his whole life. 

“Hockey is my passion. When we learned the USPHL was interested in expansion, we jumped at the opportunity,” he said. 

Pojar has been coaching for over 20 years at the high school level in Minnesota. He played NCAA Division I hockey at St. Cloud State University, followed by four years of minor professional hockey in the ECHL and SHL. Chic will be the General Manager and Head Coach of the new team. 

“I’ve been involved in Minnesota hockey at all levels, including coaching in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League (a highly recruited fall league that showcases the best Minnesota High School players). Coaching in this league has allowed me to develop numerous relationships with Tier I and Tier II Junior Coaches, as well as NCAA Division I and Division III College Coaches.”  

Sara Pojar has been involved in her family business for more than 30 years and she will be the Business Manager for the new organization.

“The USPHL is very excited to work with Chic and Sara Pojar and we know they will be valuable additions to what is already an outstanding Midwest West Division,” added USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow.

Why the name “Squatch”?  

“We wanted to do something fun. There have been Sasquatch sightings in Minnesota in recent years and now in Elk River!” said Chic Pojar. “It works well with all the game day festivities, promotions, and giveaways we plan on doing. Plus, our mascot ‘Squatch’ will be a fan favorite!”

The Squatch have also hired assistant coaches, a corporate sales team, a strength coach, and a scouting staff to get them off on the right foot as they move towards their inaugural games in September. 

The Squatch will play their home games at the Furniture-and-Things Community Event Center in Elk River.  

“The facility is brand new and state-of-the-art. It is one of the top junior hockey facilities in the country,” said Chic Pojar. “It is listed as 1,600 seating capacity, has seating around the rink, a center ice scoreboard and first-in-class locker rooms. It includes a full restaurant and bar overlooking the playing surface. There are two regulation size ice rinks, a field house for dry-land training, a weight room and shooting area. The training opportunity for our players is off the charts.”

Another advantage of being in Elk River is the close proximity to dozens of NCAA Division I and III colleges. 

“If you are looking to play in the MIAC, NCHA or WIAC, it’s an easy drive for coaches and scouts to come watch our team play.”

Part of the excitement for the Pojar family was knowing they’d be playing in the Midwest West Division of the USPHL Premier, which has been consistently one of the most hard-fought divisions in the league, which counted 64 teams last year and continues to grow as the Nation’s Largest Junior Hockey League.

“[The Midwest West] is certainly strong, and we look forward to building the USPHL/NCDC brand here in Minnesota,” Chic added. 

“We want our players to know that when you become part of the Squatch family, you’re going to grow, develop and mature into a player who advances, whether it’s the NCAA, ACHA, CHF, Tier-1 or Tier-2 junior hockey,” he added. “The hockey is important, but we also need to develop these young men to be outstanding members in the community.”

The Squatch will be out in full force at the USPHL NCDC Combine Series in both Chicago and Detroit, as well as many of the established off-season recruiting events.

It’s a very busy and exciting time for Pojar and his staff as they continue to work with potential corporate sponsors and seek billet families for their players. 

“There is a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, but we look forward to kicking it off in September!” 

 

For more information visit: www.mnsquatch.com

Utica Jr. Comet Anthony Messuri is committed to play Division I hockey at Northeastern University. Messuri played 18 games with the NCDC team this past season and posted four goals and two assists. 

"My time with the Utica Junior Comets I feel has well prepared me for the culture and habits of college hockey in a staggering way," Messuri said. "Coach Educate’s deep understanding of the game and what it takes to play at an elite level has driven me in practice and in games to push myself to become better at one thing every day. With help from Coach Shawn Lynch, the staff does an unbelievable job at developing Junior players into future college hockey players."

"Getting Anthony mid-season was a great addition to our team," said Head Coach Louis Educate. "Anthony provided great Junior Hockey experience and immediately became a leader for our team on and off the ice. It was a seamless transition getting Anthony in here which always isn't easy with a new veteran player. Anthony was able to step right in and help us win games right away. He scored the game-winning goal in his first game with us, and added that veteran locker room presence. 

Messuri said he could not be more excited about this opportunity with Northeastern University.

"I cannot speak highly enough about the culture and character that the program holds. As I took my official visit in February, every player and coach made me feel as though I was part of a family. Growing up in Boston, Northeastern was always the place I wanted to play as a child and through high school," Messuri added. 

"Anthony's dedication to the game along with his never say die attitude will serve him well at Northeastern," said Educate. 

Over the weekend of May 6-8, 2022, the USPHL will be hosting the 22nd Annual Spring Pre-Draft. 

This showcase provides players the opportunity to garner exposure to college coaches, many of whom are looking to fill final spots for this coming season, and looking for players to come onto their radar for the 2023-24 season as well. 

Moreover, players garner the attention of over 90 junior teams in the USPHL. Indeed, all of the USPHL NCDC coaches will be present scouting these games. The 2022 NCDC Draft will be held just days after the conclusion of the event - on May 11 - so NCDC teams will be fielding multiple teams in some cases to further evaluate players ahead of that date. Additional USPHL Midget, Premier and Elite teams will also be utilizing the event to evaluate prospects for the 2022-23 season. 

Players can inquire about openings on USPHL organizations’ Spring Showcase teams by utilizing the team contact information available on the USPHL.com/tryouts page. 

The showcase also captures the attention of the top leagues in North America, including the U.S. National Team Development Program, and the top Tier-1 leagues in the U.S. and Canada. 

The USPHL is the largest junior league in the United States, having advanced more than 2,600 players to college hockey since 2013. More than 1,200 former USPHL players are in college hockey at all levels each year. 

The league has had three Hobey Baker recipients, including Matt Gilroy, Jack Eichel and Jimmy Vesey. The USPHL also boasts several NHL Draft picks, including the likes of the St. Louis Blues’ Zach Sanford, Pittsburgh’s Brian Dumoulin and Vesey among them. The NCDC had its best year at the NHL Draft in 2021, when three players were selected directly out of the league - Sam Lipkin (Phoenix), Shane Lachance (Edmonton) and Chase Clark (Washington). 

The USPHL has more than 20 alumni currently playing in the NHL. No doubt it is the Premier league in the USA.

The Showcase also provides phenomenal experience for its players. They get to play with and against some of the top players from the U.S., Canada and Europe. 

All games will be played at the Foxboro Sports Center at 10 East Belcher Road in Foxboro, Mass. This is a first-class, three-sheet facility with a full-service pro shop and restaurant on site and several hotel options in the immediate vicinity. 

Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings Announce Changes To Ownership Group, New Coach/GM

By Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings Staff 04/15/2022, 9:45am EDT

John Schwarz, owner of the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings junior hockey team based in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., announced the addition of a new ownership group that has purchased a large but minority interest in the team. The new ownership group out of Florida is USA Hockey Development LLC and the managing partner is Lane Houk, a software technology and marketing entrepreneur who owns several other companies including Elite Junior Profiles, marketing agencies, Brand Equation, and Quantum Agency, and Signal Genesys, a marketing software technology company. 

NEW OWNERSHIP HAS ROOTS IN WISCONSIN

Lane Houk is going back to his Wisconsin roots with this new venture. Houk grew up in Waukesha, Wis., and graduated from Waukesha South High School in 1990. After high school, Houk spent a short time in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and then worked in intensive care at Waukesha Memorial Hospital before moving to Florida.

His father, Lee Houk, is a retired police officer and detective from Waukesha. Houk is married to his wife Shannon, an attorney, for 25 years and they have two sons, Luke Houk who plays college hockey for the University of Delaware Men's D1 team, and Shaun Houk, who just committed to play college hockey for the University of Utah Men's D1 team.  Lane Houk also is a former USA Hockey Level 2 certified official and Level 3 certified coach.

About the new venture, Houk remarked, "I am excited about this new partnership with John Schwarz and the Wisconsin Rapids community. The Riverkings junior hockey team is well-known in junior hockey circles and has a reputation of being a gold standard for how to operate a junior hockey team and partner with the local community. Coach Marty Quarters did an excellent job during his tenure with the Riverkings building relationships with local leaders and businesses while also coaching his team to seven straight winning seasons in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). We are looking forward to building on the amazing foundation laid by coach Quarters and Mr. Schwarz as we move into the next chapter of the Riverkings Hockey Club."

Houk brings over two decades of business development and marketing experience that will be leveraged to help the Riverkings continue to grow its visibility both locally and nationally. Houk and Schwarz share a similar philosophy when it comes to the business of junior hockey in the USPHL, "it's not about the wins and losses or even championships for us," remarked Houk, "it really is about helping 25-30 young men each season come to Wisconsin Rapids and grow as men in their character, in their compete level and as leaders - and doing it honestly and excellently in every way as business owners. We want to play an active role in helping to shape this next generation of men as leaders in their community, not only to become better hockey players but to send these young men into the next chapter of their lives more prepared for college and life success. Ultimately, we want to help these young men chase their dreams and become a part of a family they never knew possible. We know that the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings will continue to be the gold standard in junior hockey and a place where a few lucky young men get to play for a season or two. For me, this was less about business and more about impact and legacy."  

John Schwarz, based out of Chicago, Ill., is also an owner of the Chicago Cougars and Minnesota Moose junior hockey teams as well as Ultimate Tournaments, a destination hockey tournament company.

Paul Pechmann Hired As Head Coach/GM

The Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings Premier team is excited to announce the hiring of their new General Manager and Head Coach Paul Pechmann. Coach Pechmann has been developing young men for over 14 years in AA/AAA youth hockey, junior hockey, and most recently as the head coach for Elon University men's hockey.

He is also the co-founder of Elite Junior Profiles, a recruiting and marketing platform dedicated to helping student-athletes reach their goals of playing their sport in college. 

About Coach Paul Pechmann

Coach Pechmann is married to his wife Renee, an oncology nurse, and has four children, Noelle, Paul, Ciera, and Zachary, and one granddaughter, McKenna. Coach Paul played hockey at South Kent Prep School and then for the UConn Huskies in college. He has been coaching all levels of hockey for 15 years and has helped numerous players reach their goal of playing college hockey. Coach Paul brings a wealth of coaching and life experience with him to the Riverkings Hockey Club where he will lead the charge to continue the winning legacy of the Riverkings, but more importantly, the legacy of helping develop young men in preparation for college and life. Coach Paul has a huge network of coaches that he assembled throughout his years in youth, junior and college hockey that he will leverage to help incoming Riverkings hockey players working to earn a roster spot on a college hockey team. Coach Paul has deep experience in developing hockey players and assisting them in reaching the next level.  

"We are extremely blessed and excited to bring coach Paul Pechmann in as the new general manager and head coach for the Riverkings Hockey Club," remarked Lane Houk and John Schwarz, Managing Partners of the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings.

"The Wisconsin Rapids community and future players are in for a real treat with coach Paul Pechmann," remarked Houk. "In 15 years of youth and junior hockey, I have never experienced a coach who has a bigger heart or more passion to care for and help young men develop and reach their dreams while also possessing the requisite experience and knowledge as a coach to really develop and impact these young men."

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