Hundreds of players and their families are counting down the days. The first major scouting tournament of the year is fast approaching. The hockey world from this region and beyond are about to converge on the Superior Propane Centre for the playing of the 41st Monctonian Challenge.
It’s easy to see the passion and love for the game of hockey, it’s everywhere, it’s a tradition, but Tournaments like the Monctonian seem to mean much more, it’s where hockey dreams come alive on so many levels.
From the coach to the player, to referee, to the scout and even the player agent or family advisor, the game and showcase tournaments like the Monctonian offer so many different opportunities for growth, development and a chance to connect and share similar experiences.
Everyone wants to get notice at events like the Monctonian, but let’s hope they are getting noticed for all the right reasons.
From a scouting perspective, every scout is trying to identify prospects and make their early season draft lists which are incredibly important, but those lists and rankings are still very preliminary in nature. It’s early, and many young draft eligible players are still finding their traction at the U-18 level. Of course, everyone wants to win, but at the end of the day, what’s the game all about? What’s the real purpose of these showcase tournaments? “Win at all cost” or expose the players to the best competition possible to ensure they develop and continue to grow? You see everyone wins when growth and development are the main objectives.
The Monctonian provides an excellent stage or platform to set a benchmark for player development. As teams are gearing up for the rest of the season, draft eligible players will experience their first major test under the scouting microscope and scrutiny of that process.
One can only imagine the self-imposed pressure every player will experience November 17th to the 21st.
Blair Brooks and the entire organizing committee deserve tons of credit when it comes to this tournament. The Monctonian Challenge seemingly gets better with each passing year and this years crop of teams and prospects are no different.
We can only hope that the aforementioned pressure and high expectations surrounding the Monctonian or any showcase event for that matter doesn’t overshadow the experience of the game and the opportunity for every young player to grow and continue to develop.
Over the multitude of games throughout the tournament, you will no doubt witness some impressive performances under extreme pressure. When I think of showcase tournaments, I think of all the hard work and dedication of all those behind the scenes that allow the spotlight to be shown on the players. Obviously, the Monctonian Challenge is massive, but it’s only a small collection of games throughout the entire draft year process. It’s extremely difficult for all of these players to put things in perspective before a massive event like this one. It would be great to see every player take a step back and really reflect on their current path and trajectory in the game heading into the tournament. Every young player needs to embrace the journey, embrace the grind, but whatever they do, they shouldn’t believe if they have a subpar performance during the event that it’s the end of the line and that their draft or recruitment dreams are over.
The Monctonian is a snapshot, a benchmark, it’s not the end, it’s only one chapter in the journey and that chapter has yet to be written.
Hopefully every player will enjoy the experience, hopefully like they are all enjoying their draft year.
Why should any young player sabotage themselves or their performances by letting the pressure get to them and eat away the confidence they already possess? That’s easier said that done when events like this one take place. I would offer up this advice to any young draft eligible player. Control what you can control, play to your identity, work hard and I guarantee you will get noticed. Everyone wants to know what scouts are honing in on about a player. Obviously, every scout sees it differently, but the following questions are foundational in my mind when evaluating, assessing and projecting a multitude of players at large showcase tournaments.
Can they skate? Are they skilled? Can they think and process the game? Do they compete? Are they a good teammate? What intangibles do they possess?
The Monctonian Challenge is fast approaching. It would be great if every young player would take the time to reflect and answer the following questions.
What does the game mean to you? What are you doing every day to get better? What type of player and teammate do you want to be? What intangibles do you bring to the game and your team? What’s your identity?
See you at the rink,