USA HOCKEY FINDING A HOME IN WESTERN NEW YORK
News | 7/17/2012 3:55:44 PM | Rob Crean


The USA Hockey Player Development Camps continued this week in Rochester at the Sports Centre at MCC, further strengthening the ties between USA Hockey and Western New York.

This summer, the Sports Centre at MCC has hosted the Youth Select camps for 15, 16 and 17-year-old players, as well as the 2012-13 National Sled Hockey Team Try-out Camp.

The annual USA Hockey Select Player Development Camps provides top young players with concentrated on- and off-ice instruction as well as the opportunity to compete at the national level against other players from their age group.

Just last Friday, USA Hockey announced its roster for the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament, to be held in the Czech Republic, from players who participated in the camp in Rochester.

"Rochester has been the center of USA Hockey summer development camps for years,” said Amerks Head Coach Ron Rolston, who attended past select development camps in Rochester during his time as coach of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program from 2004 to 2011.  “The facilities and rink at MCC have provided young hockey players, boy and girls, an environment to hone their skills and be evaluated for selection in future international events."

The successful USA Hockey development program has been churning out NHL players for years, and many of those players have made summertime visits to Rochester well before they became stars in the professional ranks.

Among the players who have attended USA Hockey Development Camps in Rochester over the years are Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jack Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets), James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs), Colin Wilson (Nashville Predators), Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche) and Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis Blues).

In addition, players currently in the Sabres organization such as Nathan Gerbe, Corey Tropp and Joe Finley also came to camp in Rochester looking to advance their hockey careers as teenagers.

“Any American born (NHL) player in the last 10 years has probably been through the USA Select Camps in Rochester,” Rolston added.

Over the past two years, USA Hockey has also extended its outreach to Buffalo for a pair of signature events.  Last winter, USA Hockey and the Buffalo Sabres combined efforts to host the highly successful 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship.  On September 29, 2012, the two organizations will co-host the inaugural All-American Prospects Game at First Niagara Center, a showcase for the top 40 American-born prospects that are eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft.

"It’s an awesome opportunity for the players. Also for the players to get to know each other while they are here," Gerbe explained when the announcement was made back in April. "I was fortunate to be part of the Development Team for two and a half years, so I’ve seen a lot of the really good US players come up like Patrick Kane, Jack Johnson and Phil Kessel. I was fortunate enough to see that, but now everyone gets to come together and see what all these kids are really made of."