The United States Premier Hockey League and its Tier-2 Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference held its second 2021 USPHL NCDC Combine in Chicago, May 14-15.
The event was held in the state-of-the-art Fifth Third Arena, located in downtown Chicago. Fifth Third Arena is the practice home of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks, who play their games one street over at the United Center.
More than 200 players hit the ice over Friday evening and Saturday, with all athletes getting three games to pique the interest of scouts from the NCDC, as well as the Tier-3 USPHL Premier and Elite leagues. Over 30 organizations were represented at the Combine, with teams coming from Florida, Utah, Massachusetts and several states in between.
The two-day event featured much more than hockey, as the athletes also took part in off-ice training run by Paul Goodman, Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Blackhawks. Goodman also held an optional, additional yoga and stretching session ahead of Friday's first games.
With nearly 30 goaltenders in attendance, the Combine also included a goaltender-specific training session on the ice on Saturday afternoon.
The league also held an Informational Symposium, where League officials and NCDC coaches talked about the league, what NCDC teams offer, and how all USPHL teams - including Premier and Elite - can help players to improve their game and, with an intense focus on education, advance to college hockey.
Nearly 300 players from the NCDC and USPHL Premier divisions made college commitments during the 2020-21 season, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and rules in the NCAA that will allow seniors to retain one more year of eligibility.
The NCDC in 2020-21 also featured 12 players listed on the NHL Central Scouting Players To Watch List in January, which was more than all other Tier-2 leagues in North America. More than 60 players who competed for the NCDC's 13 teams in 2020-21 will advance to NCAA Division I institutions in 2021-22 and beyond.