A new season brings new teams to the National Collegiate Development Conference. The NCDC remained a 13-team circuit with the addition of one of the most successful organizations in the Northeastern United States, the Boston Advantage.
The Advantage was founded by the Lovell Hockey ownership group, and Co-Owner Joe Lovell is the man behind the bench for the newest NCDC members, who join the Philadelphia Hockey Club in making their NCDC debut for 2020-21.
“For our first year, I like what we have. It’s definitely a hard-working group of honest hockey players who will hopefully contribute to the team and help us compete right away,” said Lovell. “[Scouting during COVID] was definitely a little overwhelming. Our scouting staff did a great job of recognizing guys who were available, as well as kids who were in our program who were excited to play NCDC hockey for the Advantage.”
Having a deep organization that embraces the “cradle to college concept” from the earliest levels of Learn to Play to NCDC gave the Advantage an upper hand.
“It definitely helped out for sure. We had kids who decided to stay with us who might have gone on to other places,” Lovell said.
Having that infrastructure was certainly an aid in building the new team, the existence of which was announced just days before the June 10 Entry Draft.
“We drafted 14 and I think we tendered 13 all in the space of five or six days,” said Lovell. “I don’t think I put my phone down for a minute for a solid week. I was on the phone selling the Advantage, and it worked out pretty well.”
The Advantage also held a main tryout camp in the summer, and 160 players were on the ice giving the organization eight teams.
“We had kids from all over the country. That’s pretty crazy considering the times we’re in,” added Lovell. “With the league having that message out there that we were going to play hockey, and that the league would start in September, helped us a lot.”
The Advantage boiled those eight teams down to two for the USPHL Summer Showcase in July, and in September, made their final cut to a 23-man roster.
Before the final roster cut, Lovell said it was very tough to make the decisions heading to their Saturday (Oct. 10) opener against Twin City.
“We had guys who came in and stayed with us for two weeks, leaving it all out there,” said Lovell. “No one took a day off. It was extremely hard to make cuts. You could almost replace each guy on this team with someone we had to cut. It was that difficult.”
The Advantage begin with a true NCDC veteran, and one who gives an offensive punch to boot. Ethan Bastien has played with the Islanders Hockey Club and Rockets Hockey Club, and finished his 2019-20 season with 12 goals and 23 points in 32 games with RHC.
“We traded for Ethan. The kid is an extremely talented athlete. He gets up the ice fast, and he’s definitely a power forward who could be a Division 1 kid for sure,” said Lovell. “He has all the tools and he should make a big impact for us.”