Soo Eagles NAHL Main Camp Report

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Soo Eagles NAHL Main Camp Report August 20, 2012 7:32 AM

Making my annual trek to the Soo Eagles camp this past weekend was something I had been looking forward to. Having been attending camp since their first season, I knew this one would be just a little bit different.

Making the move from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League to the North American Hockey League was one that I had at first voiced concerns over. My concerns were misplaced and this years Eagles team will be one that the local community will definitely embrace.

With just over sixty players having made it to main camp, I expected some good battles, and a few players who would quickly show they were not ready, just as you do at most camps. What I found was the most depth at every position that I have seen at any camp throughout this summer, and in the last few summers. There was not one player at this camp that could not play junior hockey in one league or another.

Competition was fierce, so fierce and so closely matched that Eagles management decided to change the final day format. Originally cuts were scheduled to take place Saturday night and an All Star game to be played Sunday. It became impossible for Eagles staff and scouts to cut down that quickly. Less than a dozen cuts were made Saturday night, some of those first cuts were players with Tier II Junior experience.

Rather than one All Star game, the Eagles decided to have two on Sunday to further determine who would be moving into billet homes later that day.

Both games were very competitive, but it was clear on the final day that veteran players came to make a statement. The pace was that of a regular season game, and the intensity was clearly rose a level or two.

The one player that stood out above all others was Dallas McLaughlin, having watched Dallas last season, he was the one player I wanted to see make the change from the NOJHL to the NAHL. The Marquette Michigan native, is someone I watched first as a Midget player for the Electricians program and had intrigued me with his combination of grit and skill.

Unable to attend Eagles games toward the end of the season and in playoffs last year due to other commitments, was clearly a mistake of scheduling on my part.

How Dallas McLaughlin did not win NOJHL Rookie of the year honors is inexplicable, because this young man is a complete player. I expect him to be in the thick of things for the NAHL Rookie of the year award if he doesnt run away with it. All NCAA D-1 programs that dont know who he is, had better get there scouting schedule out and prepare for a stop to watch him. McLaughlin is clearly a D-1 ready prospect right now. With all due respect to all of the other fine players that made the Eagles team this weekend, Dallas is clearly the most NCAA ready player I have seen all summer. Remember the name, because this player has all of the tools.

Another bright spot for the Eagles was goaltending, five very good goaltenders made it to the All Star games. Tyler Marble and Zach Naglevoort brought their best games and made it clear they deserved those positions.

On sunday the hard work had to be done, Bruno Bragagnolo, Gerry Fraser, Tom Farnquist, Paul Andary, John Waisanen and other scouts assisting were left to determine the subtle differences that would allow some to make the team and others to move on. The good news is that even those players who were eventually let go, most had Tier III back up plans and for others that did not, Tier III plans or NOJHL plans were offered.

If I had to make a statement to describe this years Soo Eagles team and how they will make the change from the NOJHL to the NAHL it would be easy; This is one team that is ready to drop the puck and I expect their winning ways to continue in the NAHL.

Joseph Kolodziej

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