2016 Junior Showcase Day 5

Day 5

On the final day of the 2016 National Training Centres Junior Showcase founder Dan Blackburn took a minute to reflect.

“It’s growing, the number of athletes out there that need the Showcase,” he said.  “They need the additional exposure, and the opportunity.”

In fact over the past 13 years, the number of NTC participants has increased almost exponentially, from 15 to 68.

“We’re controlling its growth, but it’s definitely growing,” he continued. “I think it won’t be very long until we expand the Showcase — be it into other markets, or a larger Showcase in Toronto.”  

For him, the most time-consuming part is traveling from rink to rink, to personally handpick the players. This year he had 100 applicants for the 68 spots.

“You can see the number of scouts out — to find a player that will be a fit for their team, or an unnoticed talent,” he added.

The Aurora Tigers’ new owner Jim Thomson was out, “not just looking for the best player, but the right player”, to represent both his OJHL Junior A team, and the town well.

The one-time NHL winger said it was strictly his passion for the game that got him to the bigs, after being drafted 185th overall by Washington in the 1984 Entry Draft.

“I believe where there’s a will, a lot of good things can happen,” he offered. “If you’re a good, hardworking hockey player, you’re going somewhere. Hockey opens up a lot of doors.”

He added, “There are a few guys I see (out there) who have the potential for playing Junior A.”

While not at that stage yet, 15-year-old Team Black winger Thomas Carbureanu made progress at the Showcase, picking up his speed against the older players.

“I’m just trying to show my work ethic. Obviously, I’m younger,” he said.  “I’m just trying to focus on the fundamentals, and doing my job.”

Of Romanian descent, he played this season with the Toronto Shamrocks Minor Midget AA’s. Like most of the players involved, the Grade 10 student at Toronto’s Northern Secondary already has an agent.

He said he, “wants to play Junior really bad”, but might also pursue a university scholarship.

For Team White forward Steven Katsis, a 14-year-old under-ager, “It was a great experience for him, fitting in with the older kids — watching and learning,” his father Gary said.

“It’s a great opportunity for him. It’s like planting the seed. Right?”

By Mike Beggs

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