All of the excitement, all of the dominant victories, all of the overtimes, all of the upsets of the USPHL Premier and Elite National Championships will all be in one place.
The 2020 Nationals will take place entirely at Merrimack College in Andover, Mass., from March 12-16. The two rinks at Merrimack, including Lawler Arena - home to the NCAA Division I Merrimack Warriors - will host the championships, beginning on March 12 with the start of Round Robin games over three days through March 14.
Sixteen Premier teams and eight Elite teams will play in the Round Robins, after coming through some grueling regular seasons and playoff series to make it to the National Championships.
The regular season has seen it all, including some new records. The USPHL Premier’s Islanders Hockey Club’s 20-0 start set the mark for best winning streak and most consecutive wins from the start of a season since the start of the 2017-18 season.
A new single season scoring record was set by the first-year Fort Wayne Spacemen’s Jared Fisher. He set both the single season points (104) and goals (57) records.
The defending champions from 2019 - the USPHL Premier’s Hampton Roads Whalers, and the USPHL Elite’s Richmond Generals - have both already punched their tickets to try and defend their titles.
The Whalers will be looking for the Premier three-peat and their fourth title in five years.
In prior years, the USPHL has held championships at multiple locations, but is focusing on the convenience for teams, parents and - of course - college coaches and scouts, to be able to travel to one destination for this massive and exciting event.
Setting The Fields
The USPHL Premier field will be finalized following the playoff rounds happening the second weekend of March.
The South Region (Southeast and Florida Divisions) held their playoffs the first weekend of March, resulting in National Championship berths for the defending champion Whalers, Charlotte Rush, Florida Eels, and Tampa Bay Juniors.
The USPHL Elite field for the 2020 National Championships was finalized on March 2:
Northern Cyclones, Springfield Pics.
Jersey Hitmen, New York Aviators
Richmond Generals, Carolina Jr. Hurricanes
Atlanta MadHatters, Charleston Colonials.
The semifinals for each of the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite Divisions will be held on Sunday, March 15. The Championship Games for each league will take place on Monday, March 16, at 10 a.m. for the USPHL Elite and 1 p.m. for the USPHL Premier.
All of the games will be broadcast live on HockeyTV (USPHL.HockeyTV.com) with play-byplay broadcasting, including nearly a dozen games called by the USPHL’s Official Broadcast Partners The Dan K Show.
Continue to check out USPHL.com, and follow the USPHL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for #USPHLPlayoffs and #USPHLNationals updates and video and photo features throughout the USPHL Championship Games on March 16!
While the USPHL Premier and Elite Championships are underway, the USPHL’s top-level, the Tier-2 Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference will open its playoffs the same weekend.
Held at the top-seeded teams’ home ice arenas for each round, the NCDC Playoffs will pit the top eight teams against each other in a typical high-vs.-low seed format across three weekends, culminating in the NCDC Championship Finals over the March 28-30 weekend.
Each series will be a best-of-three format, with full overtimes where needed - 20 minutes each or until someone scores the winner.
The defending champion Boston Junior Bruins sealed up the No. 2 seed in early March, while the defending Founders Cup (regular season) champion Jersey Hitmen repeated with that honor as the No. 1 overall seed holding home ice advantage throughout their playoffs run.
The Jersey Hitmen featured the player who first broke the NCDC record for single season points (76 and counting, passing former Hitman Jeffrey Losurdo’s 65 set in 2017-18). His 44 goals are also a single season high.
The Junior Bruins’ Johnny Mulera also bypassed Losurdo’s former record mark, scoring 72 points with two games remaining. Early in the season, Mulera also became the NCDC’s career leader in goals (75), assists (87) and points (162).
Racing Right To The End
As of press time in early March, four other teams had officially sealed up their playoff berths but were jockeying for final position - the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, Northern Cyclones and Islanders Hockey Club.
Exciting races for the final two spots saw gravity on every single game played by the teams chasing those final two berths.
It’ll all boil down to two teams playing that final weekend of March to determine who will lift the Dineen Cup!
Follow the USPHL online at USPHL.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for #NCDCPlayoffs and #DineenCupFinals updates.
The United States Premier Hockey League, and its tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference announced in February their 2020 NCDC Combines, set to take place in Detroit,
Mich. (April 10-11) and Chicago, Ill. (May 1-2).
These Combines will feature guaranteed scouting opportunities by coaches from the USPHL’s Tier-2 Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference, along with additional scouting opportunities with other USPHL teams.
Players born between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2004, will be eligible.
Registration costs only $79 for each Combine. The USPHL is dedicated to providing a great value to prospective players to show their skills in front of NCDC coaches and begin new relationships.
Players will be guaranteed a minimum of three scrimmage games, and there will be goaltender-specific training sessions at each event. There will also be an informational seminar about the United States Premier Hockey League and its unparalleled USPHL Development Model. Players and their parents will be able to ask questions directly to NCDC coaches as well as other USPHL coaches and League representatives.
The NCDC Detroit Combine (April 10-11) will be held at Fraser Hockeyland at 34400 Utica Road, Fraser, Mich., in the northern suburbs of Detroit, Mich. It is just over 30 minutes drive from Detroit Wayne County Airport.
Players can stay at the Hampton Inn Detroit/Roseville (33680 Gratiot Ave, Clinton Township, MI 48035) with a special room rate. The Hampton Inn is eight minutes drive from Fraser Hockeyland.
Register for the 2020 NCDC Detroit Combine: https://usphlstats.sportngin.com/register/form/827747933
The NCDC Chicago Combine (May 1-2) will be held at the Fifth Third Arena at 1801 West Jackson Blvd., in Chicago, Ill. Fifth Third Arena is the practice facility for the Chicago Blackhawks. Located in downtown Chicago, it is just over 30 minutes drive from O’Hare International Airport, and under 30 minutes from Chicago Midway International Airport. There are countless lodging options in the Chicagoland area, all within a short drive of Fifth Third Arena.
Register for the 2020 NCDC Chicago Combine:https://usphlstats.sportngin.com/register/form/784025157
Invitations to NCDC tryout camps for the 2020-21 season will be offered to select players from each Combine. The NCDC Draft will be held on May 15, and NCDC teams will be scouting players for potential selections in that event to be held less than two weeks after the Chicago Combine.
The cost for each three-day combine is $79, with a three-game guarantee as well as off-ice activities, and player evaluations.
Also included: jersey, skate sharpening, laundry, accredited on-ice officials, and medical staff on site.
The USPHL and its tuition-free division, the NCDC, are providing an unparalleled, comprehensive on-and office recruiting opportunity for players from throughout the United States. Sign up today, as registration will be limited.
About the NCDC
The NCDC is the only tuition-free junior hockey league that is fully located in the Northeastern United States, limiting travel to New York, New Jersey, the Philadelphia region and the New
England states. This allows players to spend more time on development, both on-and off-ice, than traveling on a bus. With the unmatched USPHL Showcase Series, NCDC players have several opportunities each season to play in front of several scouts at well-attended multi-day, multi-tiered events.
There were more than 400 former players from the USPHL’s top division skating with NCAA hockey teams during the 2019-20 season. This included individual season-ending award-winners from multiple NCAA Division 1 conferences.
More than 100 players committed to college hockey out of the 2018-19 NCDC season alone, and more than 30 of those players advanced to NCAA Division 1 institutions from what was then a 12- team league.
USPHL alumni currently skating in the NHL include players such as Jack Eichel, Charlie Coyle, Brian Dumoulin, Jimmy Vesey and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
South Carolina native Tyler Morin knew that he wanted to take his next step into Tuition-Free Tier-2 junior hockey after his second Tier-1 18U season.
Last May, he received an e-mail about the inaugural NCDC Combine in Lansing, Mich., and decided to make the trip to Michigan’s state capital to build upon his future prospects.
“I didn’t know where I was playing yet, but I knew I wanted to play tuition-free,” said Morin. “The NCDC Combine looked like a lot of exposure, and I did get that exposure and it was great.”
Morin would eventually sign with the Utica Jr. Comets, after first meeting their Utica Jr. Comets’ Head Coach Paul Kelly at the Combine. Morin started the 2019-20 season with the Comets’ USPHL Premier team, scoring 33 points in 20 games. From there, he was brought up to the NCDC and he has been an extremely effective player with the Jr. Comets’ top squad, scoring 15 points in 27 games.
The Comets, he said, were one of six NCDC teams that he made first contact with at the 2019 NCDC Combine. “Coming out of that Combine weekend, I had a lot more options than before,” said Morin. “That was what I wanted, ideally. I even got to talk to coaches who watched me during the goalies’ session. It was a lot of exposure and money well spent.
“In talking with Coach Kelly, he had played pro hockey in South Carolina where I grew up, so there was mutual ground there,” Morin added. “I came to the Jr. Comets’ training camp and I saw it was everything he said it would be when we talked at the NCDC Combine.”
Along with learning about his future team, he also got a chance to learn about the USPHL as a league and its comprehensive USPHL Development Model, featuring everything from youth hockey through Midget and Tier-3 junior hockey to the Tier2 NCDC at the top. At an informational seminar, he heard from Coach Kelly and other NCDC coaches about the league and its multi-tiered, linear approach to player development.
“I didn’t know anything really about the league before I came to the Combine. I knew the NCDC was rather new to tuition-free hockey, which was my goal,” he added.
That trip to the first NCDC Combine not only gave Morin a push in the right direction for his hockey career, but a large extended family.
“It was awesome. I got to grow really close with both [the Jr. Comets’ Premier and NCDC teams],” said Morin. “We take one bus everywhere we go, so I’m always with 60 of my best friends. I’ve made the most of my opportunity.”
He takes stock of all he has been able to achieve this year, both athletically and personally, and can trace it back to one great decision that he made.
“It all started at the NCDC Combine.”
The 2020 NCDC Combine Series, with multi-organization scouting events being held in Detroit (April 10-11) and Chicago (May 1-2), promise to provide outstanding opportunities for players born between the years 2000 and 2004 to create connections with NCDC and other USPHL coaches.
This is not the first go-round for the United States Premier Hockey League when it comes to Combines. The Combine Series made its debut in 2019 with successful events in both Lansing Mich., and in Chicago, at the same site as the 2020 Combine - the Chicago Blackhawks’ practice facility, Fifth Third Arena, right in downtown Chicago.
These Combines provided the groundwork from which to build up for an exciting 2020.
Lansing’s The Summit Sports and Ice Complex, home ice for the USPHL Premier’s Lansing Wolves, provided the setting for the first Combine running June 7-9, 2019. More than 80 players attended the event and each played in front of NCDC coaches, who talked to select players after each contest.
The feedback on this scouting opportunity was all positive, with one player going so far as to say it was “the best Combine I’ve ever attended,” during exit interviews held with every player.
Players commented with praise on the ability to talk directly with NCDC coaches in private areas following their scrimmage games.
The Combine featured U.S. Army National Guard First Sergeant Jeremy Wahlberg running the strength and conditioning portion of the Combine, which also received high praise from all the Combine attendees.
More than half of the Combine attendees joined a wide array of USPHL teams following the Combine in Lansing, with multiple players seeing action in the NCDC in 2019-20.
More than one month later, the Combine Series came to Chicago, Ill., where the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks were gracious hosts at their state-of-the-art practice facility Fifth Third Arena, just 3 miles from the world-renown Willis (formerly Sears) Tower that dominates the skyline view from the arena.
This event held July 29-31 attracted more than 200 players looking to attract NCDC and USPHL teams to their services.
All players at the Combine were treated to a unique, multi-station session with the Blackhawks’ Strength and Conditioning Coach Paul Goodman, and his staff.
After two separate USPHL informational seminars, featuring NCDC and USPHL Premier coaches as well as League officials answering questions, the players and their parents got a tour of the Blackhawks’ practice locker room facilities.
“The Blackhawks have been great with the youth and the junior levels,” said Combine organizer John Schwarz, who is again at the helm of the 2020 Chicago Combine.
“When we did the symposium, and everyone - all the parents and kids - got to go through the Blackhawks’ locker room, it was just frosting on the cake,” said Schwarz. “Paul Goodman, with [Goodman] Elite Training - the feedback we’re receiving on that is just second to none. I’ve been to a lot of Combines in the last six years, even when my kids were playing hockey, and this has been pretty special because I was able to imitate some things and even make it better.”
Again, as in Lansing, players were able to talk directly with NCDC and other USPHL coaches privately about future opportunities. More than one-quarter of all attendees signed with USPHL teams for the 2019-20 season.
Additionally, both Combines featured goaltender sessions, with a lot of position-specific instruction and drills to help those in that extremely important position to get a chance in the spotlight.
“The drills in the goalie session were applicable to game play,” one goalie in Lansing said.
Now, here we are in 2020, and players around the world have the chance to write the next chapter of their story in the world of ice hockey. The NCDC Combine Series provides the setting to do so, in front of multiple coaches from the nation’s newest and most exciting Tier-2 Junior League, the National Collegiate Development Conference!
Sign up today, as space is running out fast, at USPHL.com/Combines!