I recently attended the Global Las Vegas Showcase this past week and got a chance to spend 4 days at the always inviting Las Vegas Ice Center. This season's rendition of Global had some of the familiar coaches, recruiters and scouts that have come in year's past, along with a whole new crop of teams represented.
I think the best way to give you my assessment is to break it down by category.
FACILITY: GRADE: A
Las Vegas Ice Center was again host to the event. This 2 sheet facility offers ample locker room space for teams, a large main foyer for parents to mingle, a large hospitality room for coaches, among other things. The staff was overly friendly to all and was accommodating in every aspect. One of the gems of this facility is that they have a Restaurant attached to the South Rink so coaches and parents can take in the slightly above ice level view while enjoying a bite to eat. The food there is exceptional. I recommend the pizza. Aside from a few minor stoppages in the games to insure the ice was at premium quality for the players, the games were on time.
OFFICIATING: GRADE: A
What? I gave the officiating an A? Of course I did. Why? They officials did a good job of managing the games and keeping things moving. I heard two complaints about the reffing and both were immediately revoked when it was explained to them the purpose of the officials at showcases like this. Some parents really have to learn the ropes about why they are sending their kids to a showcase like this. The recruiters who come to these events want to see the players play, nothing more. The officials are instructed to keep play moving as much as possible and manage the safety of the game. As such, sometimes play will continue when a puck bounces off the netting and back into play and the refs let play continue. Why? Simple. Scouts and recruiters are there to watch players play, not line up for face-offs. Any liberties taken were penalized and that's that. I will be offering a full blog on showcases coming up soon.
THE COACHES: GRADE: A+
The list of coaches who worked as staff at this year's Global was impressive. In fact, it was one of the best crews I've seen in recent years. The list included:
NCAA Division 1: 18
NCAA Division 3: 5
Canadian Jr. A 15
US Junior T2A: 1
US Tier III Jr. A 1
Canadian Jr. B 7
Player Advisors: 3
In addition to the coaches behind the benches and on the ice for practice, there were dozens of scouts simply taking in the action. For a complete list of coaches there, please refer to the Global Sports Camp website. In 2018, there were over 150 teams represented and in eyeballing this years crew, it seemed as there were just many.
THE TALENT (PLAYERS): GRADE: B+
The pool of players at this years event was also deep. There have been years where the leagues at the Jr. A level and above had little to choose from. This year was one of the better crops of high-end players that has been seen. In speaking with the Jr. A, USHL and college coaches, all were impressed with the player pool. Many AAA players were in each line up and players came from all over the US, Canada and Europe. Each year, the talent varies at the Global Camps and, like Chicago, the talent this year was high end. What tells me this is the feeding frenzy of recruiters waiting by the locker rooms to speak to the players after each game.
THE SEMINARS: GRADE: B
In giving my assessment of the seminars, it was mixed as I thought the list of speakers was impressive and gave players and parents a ton of information they may not have heard. The Breakdown of Seminars was:
NCAA Compliance: hosted by Ross Beebe (BCHL, Global, Horizons Education Advisor)
Nutrition: hosted by Stephanie Rock of Rock Performance and Hockey Horizons
Building the Player: hosted by Mike Butters (Hockey Horizons), Jason Tatarnic & Rylan Ferster (Hockey Pathways)
College Hockey: hosted by all of the NCAA Division I, III and ACHA coaches in attendance.
Elite Junior Hockey: hosted by USHL, IHL, BCHL, NAHL, CCHL, SJHL, MJHL, OJHL, NCDC, AJHL, NOJHL coaches in attendance.
Tuition Based Junior: hosted by PIJHL, KIJHL, NA3HL, WSHL, USPHL, EHL coaches in attendance.
Academy Hockey: hosted by Gary Unger & Bill Doherty (Banff), Rod Collins (Pilot Mound), Leo Fenn (Lake Tahoe Academy), Eric Olsen (International Hockey Academy).
Advisors/Agents: hosted by Mike Butters (Hockey Horizons), Jason Tatarnic & Rylan Ferster (Hockey Pathways).
The only reason I give it a B is that there was not a large turnout as in year's past for these events. It's crazy. Parents shell out there money to have their son showcase for the coaches and this may the only real opportunity they have to interact with coaches and people of this caliber. Yet, they would rather watch a game that means very little scouted by...wait...the guys scouting are not there. They are giving a seminar with valuable pieces of info that may be the key that helps a player move to the next level. I digress.
THE KIOSKS: GRADE: A+ (by turnout)
In previous years, the tables set up by teams, programs, leagues and business have been just ok. Over the past few years this aspect of the camp has grown to where booths now fill the main concourse area and extend down the halls into the lobby. There was little room to place another. Having kiosks at this event and others like it add such a level of class. It almost has the feel of a hockey symposium as players and parents can get a whole bunch of information all under one roof. It is truly a welcome addition to the camp.
In closing I thought Global has once again hit it out of the park. Sure, I'm bias. I have been a part of Global for years. That said, I am also picky. There are other showcases who do a great job of assembling talent and coaches under one roof. I will give you a review of those down the road, as with other events such as this. In speaking with Global founder, Roy Henderson, he has stuck to the same quote for years. "All we do is provide a stage. A stage to bring in as many top level coaches we can to see as many top players that attend." Sounds simple, but, in this man's opinion, that formula has kept Global Sports relevant for 28 years.