The inaugural NCDC Combine, hosted by the Lansing Wolves, finished on its third day. The day’s agenda was light, with a pair of morning games followed by exit interviews with every single player present.
Much of the line of questioning had to do with getting feedback on the first-time event. Every single player asked praised the organization of the event, the competitive level, the off-ice training sessions and the opportunity to be seen by, and to talk privately with, NCDC coaches.
The NCDC Combine also featured a college hockey seminar featuring Michigan State University assistant coach Jason Muzzatti, former Michigan State player, Hobey Baker Winner and Muzzatti’s fellow NHL veteran Kip Miller, and former Ferris State player and WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete Of The Year Chad McDonald. One day later, there was an information seminar about the NCDC and the USPHL overall, with a Q&A session featuring five NCDC coaches.
The feature the players brought up the most were the off-ice workouts run by U.S. Army National Guard First Sergeant Jeremy Wahlberg, also the Wolves’ Strength and Conditioning Coach. The Combine started on Friday with one of these workout sessions - before the players even touched the ice.
Players who had been to similar events run by other leagues or organizations had never seen off-ice workout sessions like this, especially before their first game, and they liked that feature.
The fact that players were brought to private conference areas to talk with NCDC coaches immediately after games was also a feature they hadn’t seen much in other similar events.
Wolves assistant coach Allan Avery ran a special goaltending session on Saturday afternoon, with all 16 goalies present, helping to supplement the 15 minutes per game that the goalies were playing. Goalies in the interviews received position-specific critiques and praise, and the Wolves and the NCDC were praised in turn for including this session as part of the inaugural Combine.
“The drills in the goalie session were applicable to game play,” one goalie said.
As for the seminars, players praised how the topics and subject matter were geared more to them than their parents, and one said, “They taught you how to handle your career; how you get what you give.”
One player summed it up perfectly:
“It was the best combine I’ve ever attended.”
The United States Premier Hockey League and its tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference would like to thank the Lansing Wolves staff of Doug Bailey, Dennis Canfield and Allan Avery for their organization prior to, and hard work during, the inaugural NCDC Combine. They planned and executed an incredibly well-run inaugural event on behalf of the NCDC and hockey players in Michigan (and beyond).
The USPHL and NCDC thank Wolves staff photographer Art Frith for his hard work and great photos throughout the event.
The USPHL and NCDC thank U.S. National Guard First Sergeant Jeremy Wahlberg for planning and running all of the off-ice training sessions.
The USPHL and NCDC also thank the staff of The Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Dimondale, Mich., for hosting, for their hospitality, and their assistance, during the event.
The USPHL and NCDC thank Michigan State coach Jason Muzzatti, Kip Miller and Chad McDonald for taking part as guest speakers in the Friday night College Hockey Seminar.
The USPHL thanks NCDC coaches Bill Weiand, Paul Kelly, Tony Dalessio, Nate Bostic and Jim Hunt, as well as Deputy Commissioner Dave Peters, for taking part in Saturday’s USPHL Informational Seminar.
The USPHL thanks all of its coaches in attendance and wishes all of the teams and players the best of luck in the coming 2019-20 season (and beyond).