The cancellation of the Ice Jam was inevitable given the surge of COVID-19 cases due to the new Omicron variant in Atlantic Canada.
The cancellation impacts a lot of people and players, but it no doubt hurts the chances for U-16 AAA players the most.
The “Minor Midget AAA” level in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick continue to search for credibility and exposure within the hockey world. The creation of the U-16 AAA All-Star team that was going to be part of the tournament would have definitely garnered attention from QMJHL scouts.
It’s a shame really that the “Minor Midget” circuit hasn’t been heavily scouted this season. It’s undeniable that there’s talent playing in the league.
The Ice Jam would have been the first time many scouts would have seen/evaluated the players selected for the tournament. The proverbial eye test for many scouts would dispel any idea when it comes to identifying talent the lack of perceived talent within the league.
Like any All-Star selection there were some players that were very deserving left off the roster. Word travels fast when scouts watch and evaluate, word travels just as fast if players perform. You see all these players and U-16 organizations just want an opportunity, they just want a chance to be seen. Ironically, the U-16 AAA players selected for the All-Star team would be essentially playing for every player in the circuit.
If a few players catch the eye of scouts, those scouts would follow up and go watch more games exposing more players to be evaluated.
Leave all the politics out of the decision to cancel the tournie and let’s try for a second to leave politics out of the game, every draft eligible player deserves a fair shake when it comes to being evaluated and ranked.
One hockey lifer had this to say about the lack of scouting the U-16 AAA ranks.
“Well let’s just put it this way, no one scouts that level, because it’s too hard. Scouting the U-18 ranks is easy. It would be much harder for scouts to get out there and do their job at the U-16 level.”
In the end, scouting is all about projecting talent. It doesn’t really matter where the kid is right now, what matters most is where they are going and the intangibles they possess to get them there.
The Ice Jam cancellation is a big set back for every player, especially those fighting for exposure and a chance to showcase their talents.
Let’s hope every scout is taking this opportunity during the pause to drill down, evaluate and project every draft eligible player.