By @MichaelCaples –
The USHL wants to see some of Michigan’s high school hockey talent this fall.
The Michigan Hockey Advancement 18U Team has been invited to participate in the upcoming 2018 USHL Fall Classic, held annually as a showcase for both the league members and a collection of the top young programs in the country.
The third edition of the Fall Classic will feature 14U, 15U, 16U and 18U teams. Michigan’s top Tier 1 youth programs were present during the first two events, which were 14U and 16U showcases to coincide with the league kicking off its USHL season (all 17 USHL teams compete at the Fall Classic).
Michigan Hockey Advancement – operated by Total Package Hockey – annually brings together some of the top high school hockey players prior to the start of the MHSAA season. They field 16U and 18U teams, and the older group has impressed in previous fall campaigns – catching the eye of USHL scouts and leading to the inclusion in this year’s Fall Classic.
“Michigan Hockey Advancement is honored to be invited,” said Rick Gadwa, the MHA’s program director. “What an accomplishment for a full high school hockey program to be invited to a prestigious event. We’re real proud; it just shows how far the program has come in the last few years and the respect we’re starting to get around the country.”
Last year, the 18U team recorded a 17-1-3 record in a condensed fall schedule, winning the Bauer Motown Cup and the Honeybaked Compuware Invitational. They also had an undefeated appearance at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn.
“It’s as simple as this – in such a short-term event, our success drives from the talent that comes out and the professionalism they get from our coaching staff and our program. I think it’s a good marriage. It’s our goal to get the very best 40 high school hockey players in Michigan between the 16U team and the 18U team, and events like this, it just shows the success we’ve had and also, how do you not want to come play for a program that’s getting invited to USHL events, NAHL events and so forth.”
The first step in selecting the 2018 MHA rosters begins with tryouts Aug. 2-4 at Farmington Hills Ice Arena (goalies-only for the first day). From there, 80 players will be invited to take part in the Top 80 Showcase, held at the same location on Aug. 24-26. The Top 80 Showcase puts players through three games of 17-minute stop-time periods, as well as educational seminars with guest speakers, the “Bauer Experience” where players get to try the latest gear from the hockey company and meetings with the MHA staff.
For more information on how to register, click here.
“[Top 80 Showcase] weekend is designed to do two different things,” said TPH director of player development Brandon Naurato, who played high school hockey for Detroit Catholic Central. “One, provide exposure for the top high school players in the state, with the goal to move these guys on to the next level. But more importantly, to also educate these kids on the path, on what it takes to get to the next level – the sacrifices that go into it, the adversity that you’re going to deal with. It’s easy to be a hockey player when everything’s going well for you. When the cards are down, or your back’s against the wall, having the passion for the game and the love for the game to fight through that and then to have success is a feeling that we’re trying to get these kids to go through.”
In just three seasons, 14 Michigan Hockey Advancement alums have been drafted by USHL teams and 45 were tendered or drafted by NAHL programs. Thirty-six players were selected to the 2018 MHSAA All-State Teams alone.
In addition to the USHL Fall Classic, the MHA’s teams will be competing will be competing in the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn., the Honeybaked Compuware Invitational in Metro Detroit and the Beantown Fall Classic in Boston.
“In my opinion, the four in the month of September and October are the most highly-scouted AAA events in the country,” Gadwa said. “They’re good tournaments for our boys. Our job is to get as many eyes on these players as possible. The proof’s in the number, you can see it in the stats of how many players we’re getting drafted and tendered out of the MHA. Guys are sticking on NAHL and USHL rosters. We’re just a piece of the puzzle. We won’t take credit for it, it’s all on the player and their skill and desire, but we definitely are helping with getting them in front of people and talking them up, so to speak.”
More on the Top 80 Showcase and Michigan Hockey Advancement: