USA Hockey Magazine

April / May 2018

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APRIL/MAY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 19 That doesn't mean this age division is holding tank for players who couldn't make the grade at the 16 & Under level, McLaughlin said. And based on the quality of play on the ice and the competitiveness of games throughout the tournament, fans in the stands were looking at the next wave of talented American players. "We view this as the best and most appropriate place for the best 15-year-olds to play," McLaughlin said. "It's an oppor- tunity to show your skills against players your birth year in front of scouts and coaches with Junior and college as well as the NTDP." With so many of the top 15-year-olds and their parents already in the building, it only makes sense to show them how the NTDP can help them achieve their hockey dreams, whether that's earning a college scholarship or possibly one day playing in the NHL. Everywhere you look in the lobby and in the rinks there are posters proudly dis- playing former NTDP players who have moved on to bigger things, including Jacob Trouba, Patrick Kane and Jimmy Howard. "This is the marquee age group in the USA Hockey National Championship tour- nament schedule so it makes sense to hold it here," said Mike Henry, general manager of the USA Hockey Arena. And there is no shortage of ideas to add to the festivities, including chalk talks with NTDP coaches, tours of the program's facilities and sandwiching the tournament around a pair of USHL games so that play- ers and their parents can see the next level on the development ladder up close. In addition, talks to get at least some of the games televised are in the early stages. Thanks to this year's tournament schedule, teams had a chance to watch the U.S. National Under-18 Team practice for the upcoming IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Magnitogorsk, Russia. "We were fortunate that the schedule worked out so kids and coaches could see what an elite practice at the next level looks like," Henry said. With two years in the books, this pilot project has many hockey people excited about its potential. And based on the early returns from this year's tournament, host- ing it at USA Hockey Arena is quickly prov- ing to be a home run. "This tournament proves exactly what everybody thought," McLaughlin said. "There are some very good players who are not playing 16U hockey who are not only very special now but who have tremendous potential." P It's an opportunity to show your skills against players your birth year in front of scouts and coaches with Junior and college as well as the NTDP." "

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