The North American Hockey League will host their 12th annual Showcase tournament at the National Sports Center in Blaine starting Wednesday and running through Sunday. The Showcase features all 24 teams in the NAHL, the U16 and U18 division of the North American Prospects Hockey League, the High Performance Hockey League, which features some of the country's strongest AAA programs like Detroit Honeybaked and Chicago Mission, and games from the Upper Midwest Elite League. If it isn't the largest hockey event in the world, it's certainly the largest played under one roof.
We'll have a lot of coverage from this tournament. For live information as the tournament is happening, follow me, @ChrisDilks, on Twitter, or Like our Facebook page. We'll have more in-depth reports from the tournament on the website early next week.
For now, here's a quick look at each of the leagues that will be playing in the tournament:
It was a pretty quiet summer in terms of team movement for the NAHL, which speaks to the stability of the league. There will only be one new name at this year's Showcase: The Port Huron Fighting Falcons moved to Connellsville, Pennsylvania and are now known as the Keystone Ice Miners. The only other change is the Wenatchee Wild are now in the league's South Division, which seems geographically crazy, but not all that different from what they had last year in the Midwest Division in terms of travel.
The NAHL put together a quick look at each team in the league in their 24in24 series. Team rosters are up on Pointstreak, or if you prefer scrolling to clicking, here is each team's most recent protected roster, via USA Hockey.
NAPHL/HPHL/Tier I AAA
The U16 division is always closely watched at this tournament, as it's the first really big event of the year for the '99-born age group, which will be closely examined for the NTDP/junior hockey drafts. The U18 division also draws heavy scouting interest from junior programs looking for players that may have been missed during summer tryouts, and potential adds for next season.
In a little bit of a twist from year's past, rather than the NAPHL, HPHL, and at-large AAA teams holding three separate events, there will be some crossover games creating some potentially very interesting match-ups.
Of most local interest will be some of the U16 games where two teams from Minnesota's Elite Prep Development League(affiliated with high school hockey in Minnesota) will take on Tier I AAA programs like Omaha U16(which has poached quite a few Minnesota HS players in the past) and the Minnesota Magicians(named one of Minnesota's first ever Tier I AAA programs this past summer) in a battle of competing ideologies.
The Upper Midwest Elite League games always draw a high percentage of scouts. We already mentioned some of the early standouts in the league. Elk River's Jake Jaremko continued his hot play in week two of the season. He already has 20 points, seven points ahead of the next highest scorer. Another big weekend in front of a big crowd could really put him on the map as a top prospect in the state.