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Tryouts prove essential for NAHL teams and players

August 8, 2011

The 2011 NAHL tryout season has come to a close, and despite expanding to a record-high 28 teams over the summer, America’s largest and oldest junior hockey league is pleased to report that the camp quality was at an all-time high across the board.  NAHL coaches are reporting that players that they are watching at tryout camps are talented, determined and excelling, ultimately ending up on NAHL rosters for the upcoming season, offering further proof that tryout camps are proving to be very beneficial for both players and coaches in the NAHL.

Traditionally, NAHL teams obtain their players several ways: veteran players, tenders, draft picks and tryout camps.  But, in this age where junior hockey is ever-changing and growing at a rapid pace, it is allowing all prospective players in these tryout camps to seize an opportunity.  It is also proving why tryouts camps are so important.  Not only does it provide an opportunity for a player to display his skills, but it provides the player the opportunity to compete against a high level of competition.

Here are some comments from some NAHL head coaches about their tryout camps this summer:

Dennis Williams, Amarillo Bulls
“We are most interested in quality, not quantity and we were very happy with the quality.  I am looking to meet guys, talk to them, explain the benefits of playing in a league like the NAHL.  I look for certain skill sets that fit our team.  I look for character and off-ice attributes.  Everyone has a chance.  I go into camp with an open mind.  Just because a player is a veteran, tender or draft pick doesn’t automatically mean he has made the roster.  I want guys to earn it and want the best team possible.”

Marc Fakler, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings
“We had an extremely competitive and intense camp.  I was definitely pleased with the level of play.  Over the weekend we had a lot of local media coverage and people from the community that were interested in seeing the potential product we can put on the ice and all walked away impressed.  We had some very pleasant surprises at our camp.  That's why the tryout process is so important.  There are always players that are not tendered or drafted that prove they deserve to play junior hockey.”

Scott Langer, Topeka RoadRunners
Everything at the camp this year was strong. Even with the recent expansion we still get a good quality at our camps. The amount of scouts in attendance from NHL down to midget AAA, offer these players great exposure.  There's always a number of very talented players who deserve a shot at making the team, and always a number of players who are still a year or two away from being ready. These camps are not only essential to putting this year’s puzzle together, but also to identify future talent.  Tryout camps are important for a number of reasons. Mostly, you can scout players all you want but until you can put them in a controlled situation with established veterans, it's tough to see how they truly match up against Junior A talent. Camps are a crucial step in building for the coming season. It also allows for the entire staff of Scouts and coaches to be in one setting with one common goal.”

Eric Ballard, Fresno Monsters
“Quality was up at our camp this year.  Tryouts are very important for many reasons.  Can the players that were drafted or tendered adjust and play at the higher levels with veteran players?  Will the players compete and will they fit into the make-up of your team?  Those are just some of the things we are thinking as a coaching staff.”

Dane Litke, Janesville Jets
Our camp in Janesville was one of our best ever. The talent was very competitive and we had a lot of hard decisions to make as we cut down for the two all-star teams.  Tryout camps are very important because it gives teams a chance to evaluate talent that we have scouted over the past year and also to find those diamonds in the rough. They are a very useful tool in putting together a competitive team.  Our team is younger than it was last year and with that will come some growing pains. I'm hoping our older guys and younger guys can mesh quickly, the quicker we become a team, the better it will be.”

Garrett Strot, Coulee Region Chill
I thought the talent level was very high at our camp.  It was very tough making decisions and i wouldn't be surprised if some of the players we let go end up in the league.  I am very excited about the new players that made our team.  I think they will be a good compliment to the returners.  We added a little more physical presence than we had last year and I like our overall team speed and depth.”

Tony Curtale, Texas Tornado
“I think everyone there was very impressed with the camp, particularly the quality.  We had several NCAA Division I college coaches in attendance who remarked that it was a great camp with some great talent.  I have said it time and time again, but I want to build a team with players who are looking to become better each and every game.  The biggest factor for us in selecting a player for the roster is, does he have the fortitude and mental toughness to work hard to develop and become a better hockey player while playing for us?”

 
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