Junior Bruins' Mulera excited about UConn commitment

By Joshua Boyd/USPHL.com 08/15/2019, 6:15pm EDT

Johnny Mulera has unfinished business with the Junior Bruins as the 2019-20 USPHL season approaches. 

That’s saying a lot, coming from the guy who scored the title-winning goal in the Dineen Cup Final to give the Junior Bruins the 2019 NCDC championship. It just goes to show how much he wants to improve his game, continue to grow with his teammates, and extend a winning tradition with the team based out of Marlborough, Mass. 

He’s also going to be molding his game into that of an NCAA Division 1 player for when he arrives at the University of Connecticut to join the Huskies in the fall of 2020. Mulera committed to UConn this summer. 

“Going into a third season, it’s already been a really fun and good two years,” said Mulera, a 1999-born native of Rockville, Md. “The Junior Bruins have definitely helped develop my game. I’ve loved all my teammates and everyone I’ve met there. It’s definitely an organization that knows how to win.”

Mulera, who has also played in the past for USPHL organizations the Skipjacks Hockey Club and Eastern Mass. Senators, was an NCDC All-Star in 2018-19. 

He finished as the tuition-free division’s goal-scoring champion with 27 tallies through 49 regular season games. That doesn’t include the four additional goals he scored in eight playoff games, including the big one at 13:48 of the second period on April 1, Game 3 of the Dineen Cup finals. 

“I just remember I found space, went right in the slot and shot it,” Mulera added. “People made really nice plays that game. We had really good players making good plays all over the ice.” 

“I think Johnny has tremendous puck skills,” said Junior Bruins head coach Mike Anderson, himself a UConn (Class of 2001) graduate. “Whether it’s at the junior hockey or college level, there are very few players that have an opportunity every time they touch the puck to have a scoring chance, and Johnny is one of those players.

“Johnny’s goal for this year is to get himself a little bigger and stronger, protect the puck a little more on the wing in order to better deal with the bigger and stronger guys on the half-wall,” Anderson added. “He has a great first two steps and is super-skilled.” 

Being a third-year player in this coming 2019-20 season, Mulera’s skill and work ethic made him a top choice for a leadership role. He will wear an “A” as alternate captain this year. 

“That’s definitely a nice thing to have,” said Mulera. “It feels good. I think we have a lot of good returners on the team that can be leaders. I won’t take it lightly. I’ll work hard and push myself every day and push my teammates.” 

Mulera added he is truly excited to spend this year preparing for his future in NCAA Division 1 hockey with the Huskies. 

“It feels nice. I just really love the coaches and the awesome campus at UConn, and they have great facilities. They care a lot about hockey there,” Mulera said. “They came out and watched me a few times last season and I started talking to them this summer a few months ago. I visited campus, and then I committed.” 

“He came to me towards the end of the year and felt he wasn’t completely sure of where he was at [in terms of going to college],” said Anderson. “We wanted to find an opportunity that would be a good fit for the type of player he is. UConn presented itself, and he was really excited about it.” 

There’s a lot of excitement overall, as the season begins for the Junior Bruins in one month - they drop the puck on Sept. 14 in Utica against the Utica Jr. Comets, a week before raising the Dineen Cup banner prior to their home opener at the BJB Shootout. 

 

The call came a bit late - mid-August, with school less than a couple weeks away - but it was one of the best calls former Connecticut Jr. Ranger Troy Kobryn ever received. 

Merrimack College, an NCAA Division 1 institution in North Andover, Mass., had an opening for a goalie and were interested in bringing Kobryn into the Warriors’ fold. A couple days later - over the second August weekend - he made his commitment to the Warriors. 

“I’m really happy, it’s a dream come true to play for a Hockey East school and Merrimack is a great program,” said Kobryn, a ‘99 from Hillsborough, N.J. “I’m looking forward to competing for a hockey east and hopefully national championship. 

“It was kind of out of the blue. Last week they reached out, and I decided to accept the offer,” said Kobryn. “They said the’d watched me numerous times.” 

Kobryn was a member of the Rangers in the NCDC throughout the 2017-18 season and in the early portions of this season, before being called up to Tier 1 hockey. During his season and a half in Connecticut, he registered a .922 save percentage and a 3.12 goals against average. 

“I think [this commitment] is a long time coming for him. Troy is a tireless worker, his work ethic is off the chart,” said Rangers head coach Jim Henkel. “It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, he puts his time in in the gym, puts his time into preparation and on the ice.”

There isn’t much time before Kobryn reports at the end of this month on campus. He knows the college commitment is just the start of a marathon involving lots of time in the gym, on the ice and in the classroom. 

“I just have to keep working hard. I’ve applied and done all of that, so now I just have to focus on the hockey part and working hard every day and competing, and focus on getting a spot on the team and then getting playing time,” Kobryn added. 

Kobryn had nothing but high praise for his Rangers coaches, both Henkel and Vincent Montalbano. 

“They were great coaches and great people. They gave me a chance two years ago when no one else would give me a chance,” Kobryn said. “That kind of led me to everything else. Everything is great about the program, from the coaches to the facilities to how they run the program on a day-to-day basis.” 

Henkel got to see firsthand just how much Kobryn can set the tone not just in one game, but over a whole weekend. 

“We went to the Jersey Hitmen’s Ice Vault and took three of four points, which is virtually impossible,” said Henkel. “He stopped 52 of 53 shots in our 2-1 win, then stopped another 40-plus shots including the shootout in a shootout loss. He’s a great kid from a great family, and I think he still has some really good years ahead of him.” 

Kobryn expects to hit the books hard right away, and is planning on a mathematics/economics major when he gets to campus. Everything will be new for him, but that’ll be the story for the majority of the 2019-20 Warriors. 

“The team’s trending in the right direction, and with 16 freshmen this season, all good players, Merrimack is going to be good for years to come,” said Kobryn. “Coach [Scott] Borek is a great coach, very enthusiastic, and he wants to get the best out of all his players.” 

A Season In The Life Of The USPHL

By Joshua Boyd/USPHL.com 08/12/2019, 12:45pm EDT

Players from multiple league levels discuss life in the nation’s foremost development model

August brings hockey players from across the world off the beaches and summer jobs and into the rinks to get ready for the 2019-20 USPHL season. 

From there, it’s a marathon - but not the typical 26.2-mile run, more like those endurance 100-milers - to the end of the season in February or March, depending on your particular level of hockey. 

USPHL hockey begins for the Midget Divisions at the end of August, and for the juniors, it begins in September. Road trips, off-ice training, educational assistance and college placement help are all part of the world outside of the rink. 

Meantime, players are working almost every weekday to get ready for the busy weekends of two - or in some cases, three and four - games. 

To get some insight on what this marathon is like from starting gun to finish line, we talked with three USPHL veterans from across the league’s footprint - from Minnesota to New Hampshire to Virginia. 

About our panel: Jake Freise is going into his fourth season with the Steele County Blades, of Owatonna, Minn.; Nick Wood is advancing from the Potomac Patriots’ Elite team to the Premier squad in this, his fourth USPHL season; and third-year USPHL veteran Cam Speck is returning for a second season as Captain of the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs in the NCDC.

 

The Preseason

First of all, what brought you to the USPHL? How did you hear about the league and your team? 

Freise: I heard about the Steele County Blades through a Tier-2 camp here in Chicago. I was 17 at the time, and Coach Nick [Adamek] was in the stands. I had a meeting with him, and decided then this was where I wanted to be. 

Speck: Coach Tony Dalessio was the big sell for me with the Monarchs. I sat down with him in the spring of my senior year in high school. It was the way he carried himself, he was genuine, and he told me he was a hard coach and would get the most out of me. 

Wood: I was playing youth hockey with the Patriots when the organization moved to the USPHL. From youth hockey, I transitioned to Midgets [USPHL 15U and 16U] and then into juniors. I live relatively close to the Patriots and the Prince William Ice Center, so location was big for me. I didn’t want to give up my school, friends and home and go someplace where I might not have developed as well or had as good a time. 

 

What were your first impressions of the team and the level of play at tryouts and at the main camp?

Wood: It was different, faster. Honestly, I saw the talent there and was a little intimidated going into juniors, and playing with kids from 16 to 20 years old. The Patriots made me know that I belonged here, but had room to grow. There were so many great players in the club. 

Speck: We had a spring camp, a summer camp and then main camp later in August. Main camp was really the first impression when I first saw Coach Dalessio and Coach [Ryan] Frew show their styles and how they wanted to play. They wanted fast players, and guys who played hard. 

Freise: The team had a tryout, but Nick told me that I didn’t have to skate at tryouts. So my first impression was at training camp. I was the youngest guy on the team. I started off third line and had to work my way up. It was a wild experience. 

 

How long did it take to get to know your teammates, once you were in the final preseason camp? 

Speck: We jelled pretty quickly. Last year, we had a really good group of guys that wanted to be together and do things even outside the rink together. It took maybe a month, but once we came together, right at the end of our slide in September, you saw our record shoot upwards after that. 

Freise: Before my first training camp started, my roommate was a ’96, the oldest player on the team. There were also a lot of other players on the team from previous years, and I met a lot of these players through him. So, before the games even started, I had made a lot of really good friendships. Last year [2018-19], I had been on the team longer than anybody and Coach Nick gave me an “A” [as alternate captain], so I led the way pretty much the whole season. 

Wood: Not long at all. In training camp, we had a lot of team-bonding activities to get to know names and the guys’ backgrounds. Maybe within a month of the start of camp, we were just getting together and joking around. 

 

Early Days

What did you think of the practices early in the season, and how did they compare to practices later in the season? 

Freise: At the beginning of the year, everyone’s trying to impress people, everyone’s letting the coach know they can play. Once lines are put together, practices get better and faster. 

Wood: The practices were steady all year. Both of our [Premier and Elite] coaches ran the practice, and they were up-tempo all year. Mondays were off, so we skated four days a week and each practice was different - one day would be special teams, another would be forechecking and backchecking. You were always moving. 

Speck: In September, the practices are high tempo, high speed, but with a lot of teaching. Besides three or four players returning with our coaches, everyone was learning a different style of play from what they were used to. From the end of January to March, practices were a little more relaxed, slower but with more touches on the pucks, in order to keep us upbeat and fresh for games. 

 

Where were you, mentally, for your first USPHL game? What were your thoughts going into that first game?  

Wood: Going into that first game, I definitely had some butterflies. That’s probably normal for anyone. We had a 10-minute warmup, and that was definitely the time to get the nervousness out. Then I calmed myself down, and played how I normally play.  

Freise: My first game, there were a lot of people on the team, almost four and a half lines of forwards, some people didn’t get a lot of ice time. Every time I got on the ice, I felt like I had to play my best hockey.

Speck: We played at the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, and there was a lot of curiosity. It was not only our first NCDC game, but the Monarchs’ first as an organization. What was the league going to be like? There was a lot of anxiousness in that room, but after the first period, everyone settled down and it was good to get that first win.  

 

Kings of the Road

Where did you go on your first big road trip, and what do you remember of that road trip - both on-and off-ice? 

Speck: In Connecticut, that’s when we did our first Shoe Check. The team’s all at dinner, and someone will go around and put ketchup on someone’s shoe. Then someone will call “shoe check!” and if you didn’t catch it, you had to get up in the restaurant and sing a song. Logan Martinson had to get up and sing “Fergalicious” [by Fergie]. 

Wood: Last year, the first road trip I remember was down to Atlanta, so that was about an 8-hour bus ride each way. On the bus, Elite is up front and Premier is in the back. We had a lot of fun. Some guys slept, some played cards, and I think there was a movie on. I also had schoolwork to do, as last season was my junior year of high school. 

Freise: My first road trip was to the Wisconsin Dells [against the Dells Ducks]. I believe we lost in OT the first game and won the second game. I didn’t play the first game because of a back injury. It was a really fun experience, bonding with the guys in the hotel and at the rink. All the road trips I’ve been on have been a great experience. Every time I see a road trip on the schedule, I know it’s going to be more fun and more time with my teammates. 

 

What was the most interesting thing to happen on a road trip in 2018-19? 

Freise: We were coming back from Wisconsin Rapids, and we stopped at a gas station on the way, and the goalie from the team the year before was working at the gas station. Everyone stopped in and saw him. Everyone was so shocked to see him there, because no one had communicated with him since the season before. 

Speck: For all of our road trips, there’s been nothing too crazy. We took the games seriously and then relaxed in the rooms. If someone had an X-box, we’d usually gravitate there. 

Wood: The Patriots’ team bus was sideswiped by a car on its way to the USPHL Florida Showcase in Tampa. No one was hurt, thank God. I wasn’t there, because I had school and then I was flying down to meet the team for the weekend. I got a text, “Hey we just got sideswiped!”

 

Home Stretch

What do you like the most about your home rink, and what are some memorable home games from this past season? 

Speck: I enjoy Tri-Town Ice Arena. It’s a little bit of a cold rink, especially going out for a mid-winter practice at 9 a.m. But when we do get a good group of fans, there’s usually a lot of kids and they can get loud. That makes it a lot of fun. 

Freise: Playing at our home rink [Four Seasons Arena] is always the best thing to look forward to no matter who you play, but there is one game that sticks out. A team that had beaten us [Rum River Mallards] was coming into our rink. It was our last game, since we weren’t making the playoffs, and we won. It was just a great experience, especially being on the ice for a couple goals.

Wood: I love our home arena. I think the Prince William Ice Center is one of the best we go to all year. It’s newer, the junior locker rooms are awesome - big and spread out. We don’t get huge crowds for home games, but we get close to 100. We get the surrounding families and friends, but even families who don’t belong to the club come out to watch. 

 

How did you feel your individual game improved from September to March? 

Freise: I’m not one-dimensional, but I play a pretty simple game - be as fast and physical as possible. At the beginning of last year I was almost reckless, but then penalties became less and less of an issue. 

Wood: My skills, speed and hockey IQ developed tremendously. Also, my confidence grew just by being bigger and going to the gym. You get out there feeling on top of the world, that you’re the best, and you’ll play really well.

Speck: A lot of credit just goes to my teammates, and to Coaches Dalessio and Frew. I started the season a little banged up, with a broken bone in my ankle, so improvement took a while. 

 

Getting The Looks

During the season, what kind of college attention did you get, and are those schools still talking to you going into this year? 

Speck: There are a few schools I continue to talk to, and have throughout this summer. I still have one year and I’m waiting to see what is in store. Obviously, this coming season [as a ‘99], I have to make a decision. 

Wood: I was just up in Massachusetts visiting Tufts University, looking at that through a hockey perspective. I also met the head coach at Babson, and I also got to skate with the U.S. Naval Academy ACHA team. Navy is my No. 1 school right now, so either that or a really competitive NCAA Division 3 school. 

Freise: I’m in conversation with a few different schools. I’ve been talking to Iowa State a couple years now, as well as Framingham State, Lewis University, and a few schools in the suburbs in Illinois. I’m not super-committed in any direction. There are several options, and my coach is pushing that perspective. 

 

This off-season, when did you decide to return to the USPHL, and what do you like most about your team that has you coming back? 

Wood: It was probably right as I entered into junior hockey. Just a couple hours south of here, you have Richmond and Hampton, and there are so many great teams north of us. Our Coaches Jon [Sucese] and Zachary [Vit] are tremendous. They know what they’re talking about, and they knew the path I wanted. I knew they were the best people to help me get [to college]. I also get to finish up my senior year at my home high school this year. 

Freise: I made the decision at the end of last season, just because I knew this would be an age-out year. I had my shots at going to school, but I know this will be a different year for the Blades. After our season-ending meeting, I feel like we have a new mindset, and we’re not going to let missing the playoffs happen again. We have to be a different team this year. 

Speck: I decided to come back pretty much right away at the end of last season. I didn’t want to make a sacrifice or give up a really good spot in a good place like the Monarchs to maybe go somewhere else and not enjoy it as much. I stayed because I think if I do what I need to do, I’ll get to a spot where I want to be. It was a no-brainer for me. I enjoy the team, and the atmosphere is second to none. 

Over 20 current and former NHL players, along with a handful of current Boston Bruins players, came together for the second annual Corey Griffin Foundation Happy Hour held Monday, August 5, at Coppersmith in Boston. The event honors the life and legacy of Corey Griffin and the enormous impact made by the foundation named in his honor, the Corey C. Griffin Foundation.

Born in Hingham, Mass., Griffin was a local hockey player that developed his game with the Cape Cod Whalers, a team co-founded by his father, Rob Griffin. His collegiate career began not far from his hometown, playing for Boston College in his freshman season. He then transferred to Babson College where he played out his remaining three seasons. 

After graduating from Babson, Griffin became tied with philanthropic work. His most notable contribution came from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral sensation Griffin was an important catalyst behind. He did so in honor of his good friend Pete Frates, who played college baseball at Boston College and, since being diagnosed with ALS in 2012, has become a symbol for the fight against the disease. Before his tragic passing in August 2014, Griffin helped raise over $100,000 for the initiative.

Following his passing, Corey’s family established the Corey C. Griffin Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, grant-making organization that, according to the foundation’s website, “...provides strategic financial support to Boston’s most innovative nonprofits focused on underprivileged youth as well as those with medical challenges.”

Many of the players, as well as a large portion of the 400 attendees either played on the same ice as Corey or were touched by the contributions Corey made in his life. As Griffin’s longtime friend from Hingham, former Boston College star and NHL veteran Brian Boyle pointed out the immense turnout compared to the inaugural event last August, another example of Griffin’s reach and the human being he was. It’s also one of the reasons why Boyle has become one of the backbones of this event and the Foundation.

“Corey’s reach was so long and it still is,” said Boyle. “It’s almost five years since we lost him, and what’s going [in the foundation] right now, with the new faces that have come on, the other people that are willing to be a part of what’s going on, it’s fantastic, it really is.”

Minnesota Wild forward, and Scituate, Mass. native, Ryan Donato knew Griffin from his time with the Cape Cod Whalers. When he arrived to event, he shared that same astonishment as Boyle did at the increased turnout.

“I think when you have that combination of having a good time but also that great group of people that do good work, it’s going to grow big time,” said Donato. “[Corey] was an infectious person and always wanted to make sure everybody was having fun. Just like that, the way that [the Happy Hour] is growing, it’s infectious and everybody really wants to be a part of it.”

Charlie McAvoy never knew Griffin, but it didn’t take long for him at the event to understand the way Corey connected the community – a feat that earned him the nickname “Pied Piper.”

“It’s very, very cool to see,” praised the current Bruins defenseman. “I feel really excited to be here and learn more about the foundation and the things that they get behind  and what they do for kids and what they stand for, you can kind of tell what kind of person he was and his family is.”

Just like his teammate McAvoy, Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk didn’t really know Griffin but knew of him and his work through mutual friends in the Boston hockey scene. During the Happy Hour, the Charlestown, Mass. native witnessed first-hand what Corey’s philanthropy means both locally and globally.

“Seeing the amount of support that’s turned out tonight and just getting to interact with all the players and the community in general, it’s pretty touching to see how much he meant to everyone. It’s important, playing in Boston to give back to the community, so it’s nice to be part of the event tonight.”

For more information on the Corey Griffin Foundation, visit the foundation's website.

Successful USPHL Combine In Chicago Closes Sunday With Five Games, Great Feedback

By Jim DenHollander / USPHL.com 07/28/2019, 8:30pm EDT

Players, owners and coaches all left the Windy City on Sunday having seen some top-level competition and hopefully with a few more questions answered on the 2019-20 USPHL regular season.

Players were divided into 10 evenly-matched teams that played three games each at the Fifth Third Arena in Chicago, Ill., the practice and off-ice training facility of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Current Premier Division coaches helped behind the bench for the competitive matches that almost all ended with close scores.

On Saturday, players and their families were also kept busy with off-ice activities that included physical testing under the watchful eye of Chicago Blackhawks Strength and Conditioning coach Paul Goodman. They also took part in two sessions of a symposium that included coaches from both NCDC and Premier level teams as well as league management. After that, the players and families were given a chance to take a quick tour of the Blackhawks’ practice locker room (Fifth Third Arena is the practice home of the Hawks).

John Schwarz announced the Combine late in the spring and it was filled almost immediately and ran smoothly all weekend. Schwarz passed off much of the praise for the weekend.

“We had a lot of help, between Joshua Boyd [USPHL Media and Communications Manager], Dave Peters [Deputy Commissioner – NCDC] and all these coaches from the Premier and NCDC levels,” said Schwarz. “It made it easy. Short notice is no problem when you have a great quality team and people working really hard for you.”

The Combine’s success could also be attributed to the hard work of Combine staff members Mike Tompkins, Tori Tompkins and Johnny Schwarz. 

While the competitive game play was applauded by all of the coaches in attendance, what made this event so special were the off-ice activities.

“The Blackhawks have been great with the youth and the junior levels, with me, with the Cougars and with my tournament company, Ultimate Tournaments,” said Schwarz. 

“It’s been great and yesterday when we did the symposium, and everyone - all the parents and kids - got to go through the Blackhawks’ locker room, it was just frosting on the cake,” said Schwarz. “Paul Goodman, with [Goodman] Elite Training - the feedback we’re receiving on that is just second to none. I’ve been to a lot of Combines in the last six years, even when my kids were playing hockey, and this has been pretty special because I was able to imitate some things and even make it better. It’s been real fun. I’m very honored.”

Among the players taking part was Joe Ambroffi (‘02/Joliet, Ill) who last season played goal for the Joliet Jaguars and was hoping to make a positive impression with the league.

“It’s been an unreal experience so far,” said Ambroffi. “I got a lot of exposure and been able to talk to a lot of people and just an overall great experience.” 

The off-ice stuff was a bit overwhelming, Ambroffi said, but he was happy to have had the chance to test himself and get some of the perks as well.

“It was great to experience what I could possibly achieve in the future,” said the young goaltender.

Forward Tim Laskowski has already committed to return to the Chicago Cougars for the 2019-20, season but couldn’t pass up a chance to test himself against some high-level competition in the middle of the off season.

“Yeah, half an hour drive, free ice…why would I pass it up?” said Laskowski with a smile. But there was more to it than that for Laskowski, who hopes to fill a leadership role when he returns in the fall.

On Sunday morning, Schwarz was happy with all that was achieved on the weekend.

“I think it was really great to educate the Midwest on the USPHL and all the great benefits of the league as we’re growing,” said Schwarz. “We’re up to 23 teams in the Midwest.”

Teams and players will soon be focusing on the new season with USPHL Premier and Elite games scheduled as early as the first weekend of September.

The USPHL also thanks Premier/Elite Media Coordinator Jim DenHollander for his hard work at the Combine this weekend. 

USPHL Combine Adds Exciting Features To Competitive Gameplay on Day 2

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 07/27/2019, 10:45pm EDT

Working out with an NHL strength and conditioning head coach. Taking a tour of the Chicago Blackhawks practice locker room. Learning about the USPHL from NCDC and Premier Division coaches. Goaltenders getting their own practice session. 

These were just some of the features of Day 2 - Saturday, July 27 - at the USPHL Combine at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago, Ill. 

The morning started off with groups of players either going into the first round of games, or taking part in physiology testing with Paul Goodman. Goodman is the Strength and Conditioning Head Coach for the Chicago Blackhawks, and he set up four different stations for groups of players to rotate between. One test included timed pull-ups, holding oneself up with a weight on their legs for as long as they could. Other tests were performed on stationary bikes and plyometric platforms. Goodman and his Goodman Elite Training team kept track of the results for the USPHL coaches in attendance. 

“It was a great opportunity, very much fun. There were a lot of different [tests] to judge where I am as a player,” said Connor Trankina, an ‘02 from Illinois. “It was definitely different, with a lot of different concepts. It was well-rounded and it gives you a great picture of how you should be performing.

“He just told us to work hard, and that every second, every inch matters.”

“He said to stay at it, keep working hard every day and dream big,” added Kevin Uhlir, an ‘01 also from Illinois. “I thought it was awesome. It’s a good time to work out. I’m sore already. There was a lot more leg stuff that I wasn’t expecting.” 

In the early afternoon, following the first set of five games, the nearly 40 goalies present at the Combine got their own time to shine, with a Goaltender Session including coaching by multiple USPHL Premier coaches. 

The later afternoon featured the second set of five games for the 10 teams, interspersed with a pair of USPHL Informational Symposia. These sessions included representation from each of the seven National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) teams that were present, as well as League officials and several USPHL Premier teams. 

The coaches discussed the multiple routes to the NCDC, the greater focus on player development over wins and standings, and the hard work and dedication on and off the ice and in the classroom that it takes to make your college hockey dreams come true. 

At the conclusion of these symposia, the participants were given a tour of the Chicago Blackhawks' practice locker room at the state-of-the-art Fifth Third Arena, which was built in 2017. 

Sunday’s schedule features the last five games - starting at 9 a.m. and scheduled to end at 12:20 p.m. - and the players receiving their evaluation forms. 

USPHL Combine Opens With Intense Friday Evening Practice Sessions

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com 07/26/2019, 9:30pm EDT

The USPHL Combine has officially kicked off at the Fifth Third Arena in downtown Chicago, Ill.

The event, which runs Friday through Sunday, began on Friday with intense practice sessions all run by USPHL coaches from a wide array of teams - from the Minnesota Moose and the Potomac Patriots to the Chicago Cougars and Motor City Hockey Club, and many more. 

Players have come to the Combine from 22 different U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Participants have come in from as far away as British Columbia, California and Arizona in the West and Quebec, Maryland and Florida on the Atlantic coast. 

The birth years of the players range from 1999 to 2004, with the majority of participants (nearly 70 percent) born in the middle years 2001-03.  

Saturday will be a very busy day at the Combine, with each of the 10 teams playing two games, taking part in off-ice training with Chicago Blackhawks Strength and Conditioning Coach Paul Goodman, and also learning about the USPHL through Information/Q&A Sessions. 

Follow the USPHL on Twitter (@USPHL), Facebook (United States Premier Hockey League) and Instagram (@usphlhockey) throughout the weekend for photos and other updates.

The United States Premier Hockey League is excited to welcome players, coaches and staff to this weekend's USPHL Combine in Chicago, Ill. 

This free event will be held at Fifth Third Arena (1801 W. Jackson Blvd.) in Chicago, Ill., from this upcoming Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28. 

Register here:

Players have received their team assignments. Check-in is 90 minutes before your team’s practice slot on Friday, July 26. At check-in, you will be given your camp jersey.

Off-ice testing will be run by Chicago Blackhawks Strength and Conditioning Head Coach Paul Goodman. 

This schedule is subject to change, but a fully updated schedule will be available on site at check-in. All scheduled events below will take place at Fifth Third Arena. 

 

Friday, July 26

Practice slot 1: 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Hyundai Rink), Team White and Team Black

Practice slot 2: 5:40-6:40 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Sky Blue and Team Red

Practice slot 3: 6:40-7:40 p.m. (Hyundai Rink), Team Yellow and Team Royal

Practice slot 4: 6:50-7:50 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Pink and Team Violet

Practice slot 5: 8:00-9:00 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Grey and Team Turquoise

 

Saturday, July 27

Game 1: 8:00-9:00 a.m. (Mission Rink), Team White vs. Team Red

Off-Ice Testing: 8:00-9:00 a.m., Team Yellow and Team Violet

 

Game 2: 9:10-10:10 a.m. (Mission Rink), Team Sky Blue vs. Team Black

Off-Ice Testing: 9:10-10:10 a.m., Team Pink and Team Turquoise

 

Game 3: 10:00-11:00 a.m. (Hyundai Rink), Team Yellow vs. Team Violet

Off-Ice Testing: 10:20-11:20 a.m., Team White vs Team Red

 

Game 4: 10:20- 11:20 a.m. (Mission Rink), Team Grey vs. Team Royal

Off-Ice Testing: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Team Sky Blue and Team Black

 

Game 5: 11:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m. (Hyundai Rink), Team Pink vs. Team Turquoise

Off-Ice Testing: 12:40-1:40 p.m., Team Grey and Team Royal

 

Goaltender-Specific Session: 12:25-1:40 p.m. (Mission Rink)

 

Game 6: 1:50-2:50 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team White vs. Team Black

 

USPHL Informational Symposium: 3:30- 4:45pm (Teams Grey, Turquoise, Pink, Violet) 

 

Game 7: 3:00-4:00 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Sky Blue vs. Team Red

 

Game 8: 4:10-5:10 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Yellow vs. Team Royal

 

Game 9: 5:20-6:20 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Pink vs. Team Violet

 

USPHL Informational Symposium: 5:45-7:00 p.m. Teams White, Black, Sky Blue, Red, Yellow, Royal

 

Game 10: 6:30-7:30 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Grey vs. Team Turquoise

      

Sunday, July 28

Game 11: 9:00-10:00 a.m. (Mission Rink), Team Red vs. Team Black

 

Game 12: 9:10-10:10 a.m. (Hyundai Rink), Team Sky Blue vs. Team Yellow

 

Game 13: 10:10-11:10 a.m. (Mission Rink), Team Royal vs. Team Pink

 

Game 14: 10:20-11:20 a.m. (Hyundai Rink), Team White vs. Team Turquoise

 

Game 15: 11:20-12:20 p.m. (Mission Rink), Team Violet vs. Team Grey

 

Exit Interviews for each player: Completed by teams’ coaches at conclusion of Sunday’s games. 

 

Private areas will be available for USPHL/NCDC coaches to speak to players at their discretion on Saturday and Sunday. See USPHL Combine staff with any questions.

 

Register here