Two fun and fast-paced days of hockey came to a close with the end of the 2020 NCDC Detroit Combine, which was held July 30-31 at Fraser Hockeyland in Fraser, Mich., home of the Metro Jets.
The Combine featured 160 players ranging in birth years from 2000 to 2004. The Combine, originally scheduled for April 12-13, was twice postponed due to Covid-19 concerns. The USPHL followed all state and federal health regulations in holding the event, with the utmost focus and priority being on the health of all attendees.
The Combine had representation from coaches with teams at all levels of the USPHL. There was also an informational session held featuring League Office personnel as well as the host team’s head coach and event organizer Justin Quenneville of the Metro Jets. Players and parents alike were introduced to and educated on the USPHL’s multi-tiered development model and its success in placing players in college hockey. Last year, more than 1,200 USPHL alumni were active in college hockey, with roughly 400 earning NCAA athletic and academic awards.
“It was very impressive, the level of talent was very good,” said Dave Peters, the NCDC Deputy Commissioner. “There was a lot of skill on the ice, a good pace to games, and it was a good opportunity for players at both the NCDC and Premier to evaluate players.
“The hosts have done an outstanding job, with all that’s going on with the pandemic, all the changes we’ve had to make, and with all the protocols and requirements that were put in. People are able to maintain social distancing, everybody has a mask on. We’ve had to change the dates and change the location of Chicago, but the League Office and the teams hosting have done a really good job of making the adjustments and making this work.”
“For me, it’s been fun being the host but it’s definitely a team effort,” said Quenneville. “From the League down, I really appreciate the support. I’m very fortunate to have a cast here to make this event very professional and very safe. It’s very fortunate that the League is willing to invest in coming out here and showcasing other options out here for players.”
The event had representatives from nearly half of the NCDC, as well as a large portion of the USPHL Premier. Cody Murphy is the head coach of the first-year Elmira Jr. Enforcers, and commented on how both 2020 Combines, including the aforementioned Chicago Combine (June 13-14 in Dyer, Ind.) have helped the Jr. Enforcers.
“It’s huge for us to see all the different prospects that come from here and a lot of guys who are sleepers,” he said. “We’re thankful that the USPHL puts on these Combines.”
“I love these Combines,” added Mike Stanaway, Head Coach of the New York Aviators. “It gives kids an opportunity to come in and really see what our league is all about and they get the opportunity to meet coaches from different divisions. From a coaching standpoint, it’s great. You’re getting a good cross-section of kids and the quality is fantastic here.”