The Leaside Wildcats U22 Elite team will be traveling to Kitchener-Waterloo for their final showcase of the season December 1-3, 2023. This is the second of two USA Canada Cup Series Tournaments and the third major showcase of the season. The first was in September at Stoney Creek and the second was in October when the Wildcats traveled to Detroit – with the team posting a 4-5-1 combined record, competing against some excellent teams from the US, including three top 10 ranked teams in Chicago Mission, Philadelphia JR Flyers, and Detroit Little Caesars.
In describing the team and its performance during the showcase events Coach Janus emphasized “we’ve been proud of our team’s effort and growth during each those weekends. We’ve implemented new systems and team tactics at each of the events and the players were up to the challenge. The players really came together as a unit during Stoney and have continued to build off that since.”
The showcase tournaments are designed to bring best on best competition from across Canada and USA, providing University scouts from USPORTS and NCAA an opportunity to see the best players in one location competing against one another in five or six games each weekend.
Elaborating on why these weekends are so important for the athletes, Coach Janus noted “these showcase weekends provide players with one of the few opportunities they have outside of summer camps to play in front of university coaches and scouts. Scouts are able to evaluate the players in a club team environment, where growth and development can be evaluated over a longer period of time and at the highest level.”
The Stoney Creek Showcase in September is considered by many to be one of the largest and most important tournaments of the season for scouts. This year 132 coaches from 84 universities attended, as did scouts from Hockey Canada who were evaluating players for Provincial and National teams. Asked about why the Stoney Creek Showcase is so well attended, she noted “Although the Stoney Creek Showcase is fairly early in the season, the university leagues have not started at this time. This provides USPORT and NCAA scouts with the availability to travel and stay for the entire weekend without missing any team activities with their varsity hockey teams.”
Coach Janus went on to describe the importance of connecting with coaches and expressing interest in varsity hockey early in an athlete’s career.“ If university is an aspiration and players are interested in competing at the varsity level, they should be reaching out in their grade 10 year to introduce themselves to coaches and scouts. This will give scouts an opportunity to watch them in their grade 10 year and even though Stoney Creek Showcase is early in the season, it won’t be the first time these scouts have watched these players compete. During this time, players should also be considering summer showcase weekends at different colleges and universities during the offseason. Many schools offer showcase weekends where players can get on campus and experience life at a school for the week or weekend. They can meet the coaching staff and interact with them during the showcase. This offers players an inside peek at the varsity program and an opportunity to get to know the staff more closely.”
Information on University and College showcases can be found on the school’s athletics website or directly on the varsity team pages. There are other resources to help navigate the recruitment process such as USCHO, the USPORTS website and of course networking within your team and Association.
The Leaside Wildcats U22 Elite teams schedule for the upcoming USA-Canada Cup Series in Kitchener-Waterloo will see them face Windy City U19 on Friday at 12:00pm and Detroit Honeybaked U19 at 6:00pm in a rematch following the team’s win over Honeybaked at the Detroit showcase event. On Saturday, the Wildcats faceoff against North York Storm U22 at 12:30pm - where the team will look to avenge an OT loss earlier this season - and at 7:00pm Detroit Belle Tire U19 who they tied in the Detroit Showcase in October. Coach Janus believes “this should be another positive weekend for our team in which the girls continue to come together and develop – both on and off the ice. We anticipate a series of strong performances from our team. This has become an emphasis for our group as we remain focused on the process to get us to the desired outcome each game.”
The team’s schedule and results can be found on our website. Updates and game recaps can be found on our Instagram page, @jrleaside.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
The Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association (TLGHA), one of the largest female hockey associations in the world, has a long history of making the great game of hockey available to young female athletes. Its U22 Elite program represents its pinnacle and since its inaugural season in 2013/14 has supported hundreds of elite athletes in realizing their potential, on and off the ice. The program boasts a roster of 70+ players who have gone on to compete for championships at the USport and NCAA level and professionally, as well as several high finishes in league play in the very competitive OWHA U22 Elite league. The 2023/24 season represents the TLGHA’s 50th anniversary and a renewed focus on restoring the program to its place at the top of elite female junior hockey. For more information about the program please reach out to us at LeasideU22Elite@gmail.com or through our website at www.LeasideU22Elite.ca.