Most young ice hockey players are looking to one day play at the next level.
That's exactly the goal of the upcoming 10th annual New England Jr. Huskies Invitational Showcase Tournament, which will be held today through Sunday at the Wallace Civic Center at Fitchburg State University.
"The biggest thing is that we're trying to give kids an opportunity to go to college," New England Huskies president Leo Gould said. "To me, it's not about where a kid plays, it's about the end result -- making him a better person and a better player. That's the major thing. The No. 1 goal is to get a boy in college."
The four-day showcase tournament seems to grow every year, including the number of scouts that attend.
"There will be about 120 scouts there," Gould said. "They will be from the NHL, down to the Quebec Junior Hockey League and college."
Obviously, having that many scouts attend allows every player competing an opportunity to be seen and potentially land a scholarship.
"The scouts are the big thing," Gould said. "With a scout, you never know. They could be there looking at someone else, and then they see another player that they think can fit what they do. If a scout likes you, he obviously is going to want to talk to you."
The Huskies treat the scouts first-class, according to Gould.
"We've been voted the best-run tournament in the country the last two or three years," Gould said. "We feed the scouts breakfast, lunch and dinner. We
give them a pen and a packet with rosters. ... Scouts can come with nothing and scout. They don't have to leave the rink."
There will be 41 games during the four days, beginning with an Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) matchup pitting the New England Huskies against the Bay State Breakers at 5:20 p.m. today at the Landry Arena. The final game begins at 1:10 p.m. Sunday (Valley Jr. Warriors vs. Springfield Pics).
"You're going to see the best hockey in New England," said Gould, noting the players at the showcase range from 15 to 20 years old. "You're going to see future college stars and future NHL stars. Every game here is a league game, so you have to play every game to win because it's part of the standings."
All three New England Huskies programs in the EJHL, Empire League and Continental Hockey Association will compete in the tournament.
The Huskies' Empire League B team, coached by Tim Pelletier, is currently in third place -- only four points out of first.
"The B team has some fantastic young players," Gould said.
A weekend pass, which allows entry into every game on the schedule, costs $25, while a regular day pass is $10 ($5 for senior citizens and students).
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