Monday, June 1, 2009

Different paths to the USHL

The USHL website had a nice story about ways for undrafted players to make a USHL club. One of the success stories featured is that of 2009 recruit and 1st Team All-USHL star Craig Smith.

No one makes Coach Fukushima's point better than Waterloo forward Craig Smith, who was the captain of the Black Hawks this season. His 2008-09 points total ranked tied for second in the USHL with 76 (28g, 48a), landing him on the All-USHL First Team. The undrafted Smith earned a spot on the Waterloo roster through a tryout.

"I was just an excited young kid coming into a tryout with Waterloo," said Craig Smith. "I wasn't sure if I would make the team and thought it might be another year, but I ended up having a good tryout and made the squad."

After three seasons of development in the USHL, and he now takes his potent scoring game to the University of Wisconsin.

"Playing in the USHL absolutely boosted my development," said Smith. "Coming into the league, I weighed about 165 pounds, but I came out 192 pounds. Playing under coach P.K. O'Handley in Waterloo was one of the best things for me. He is tough, but it made me a better hockey player and a better person."

From watching Craig play last September in Green Bay, he definately plays "big" for his size and will be a welcome addition to add another power forward type player who can play special teams, do the dirty work in the corners, take faceoffs and provide leadership as he grows as a Badger.

As the article also points out, the USHL conducts tryout camps all across the United States giving kids a chance to show off their skills for a chance to play in the USHL next season, or give the teams a reason to follow their progress for the following seasons draft. The Omaha Lancers (where Tyler Lapic will likely be playing next season) is having camps in CA, AZ and TX among more traditional hockey areas.