“A lot of these kids, sometimes they have fallen between the cracks.”
So says Tony Costantini, among the scouts out for Day 3 of the 13th annual National Training Centres Junior Showcase, at Westwood Arena. Representing the Pembroke Lumber Kings Junior A’s he finds the players here are “hungry”, looking to catch the eye of he and fellow birddogs from the Junior, NCAA College, or Canadian university ranks.
“It’s very well-organized,” he says of the five-day event, featuring 68 prospects. “You’ve got two games going on at the same time. You can mix and match.”
When scanning the ice, Costantini is looking for smarts along with skills.
“And everybody gets enamored with size, but it’s not all about that,” he continues. “If you’ve got a 15-year-old holding his own against 19-year-olds, that says a lot.”
Such is the case with Zac Sirota (Team Camo), one of the youngest boys at this year’s Showcase. The feisty centre from Blyth Bruins Minor Midgets of the Prep School Hockey Federation, has made like his idol (Montreal Canadiens’ forward Brendan Gallagher) this week — backing down from no one, and earning three assists and a shootout goal on Day 2.
Having played AAA all the way up until this year, the Woodbridge resident is hopeful of getting drafted by an Ontario Hockey League team, or maybe going the NCAA route.
“It’s intense,” he says of the hockey at NTC.
“I’m meeting a lot of nice kids, and it’s definitely a learning experience.”
He’s one of three 15-year-olds from that Blyth team taking part. Super-fast Team Black forward Brody Cadeau (coming off a car accident last June), and 6-foot, 3-inch defenceman Spencer Cosway (Team White) are both counting on the exposure provided by the Showcase. And Blyth teammate Andrew Gavros, 16 (a Team Blue forward) is also out there to impress.
This week is proving educational for goalie Adam D’Amico, who has dreamed of playing NCAA hockey since he was a kid — although Junior A or B would be welcome alternatives. He’s currently competing in the GTHL finals with the Duffield Devils’ Midget AA entry.
“He’s 16, and he had a great year,” says his father Tony. “He came here to see what the competition is like.”
“He has really enjoyed meeting some of the scouts, and hearing how they see things.”
By Mike Beggs