Many would say that the goal of any junior hockey player is to further their playing career by obtaining a college scholarship. In Springfield, Illinois, they are certainly receiving that opportunity.
The Springfield Jr. Blues will be hosting their annual draft camp May 26-28 at The Nelson Center in Springfield, IL. Springfield has used this camp to identify relatively unknown players, help them reach their potential as a hockey player and assist them in receiving NCAA scholarships. The camp is open to all hockey players.
Since Head Coach Tony Zasowski took over behind the bench in 2012, Springfield has hosted five Draft Camps. From the attendees of those five camps, the Springfield Jr. Blues have tendered, drafted or signed over 40 players.
“We take pride in the camp and our evaluation of the players that attend,” says Springfield Head Coach Tony Zasowski. “If you go by the numbers, this camp is great for not only our organization, but most importantly for the players that are attending.”
A recent success story stemming from the Draft Camp is Springfield forward Ryan Leibold. In May of 2015 Leibold, who was 16 years old at the time, made the drive from Ashburn, Virginia to Springfield to attend the camp. He impressed the Springfield coaching staff so much that he was then invited back to Springfield’s Main Camp in June and earned an opportunity to make the roster.
After the Main Camp, Springfield coaches told Leibold to return to his team in the NAPHL, but they would keep an eye on his development. Springfield then tendered the forward in November of 2015 for the 2016-17 season.
In his first season with Springfield, Leibold has 11 goals and 16 assists in 51 games. Due to his play in Springfield and his progression as a player, he recently received a scholarship offer and made his commitment to play college hockey at Army West Point. His commitment made him the 10th Springfield Jr. Blues player this season to be committed to a NCAA Division I program.
Leibold’s story from NAPHL player to NCAA Divison I hockey commit is not the only one to materialize from Springfield’s camps.
Other recent draft camp success stories include:
-Trevor Stone, an undrafted forward played 4 years in Springfield before receiving a scholarship to Air Force Academy
-2015 Captain Brady Tomlak, a forward who also went undrafted before receiving a scholarship to Air Force Academy.
-Brian Rigali, attended camp in 2014 and played 1 year in Springfield before being promoted to the USHL’s Sioux Falls Musketeers. He will be playing hockey for University of Connecticut in 2017.
-2016 Assistant Captain Brennan Blaszczak, 2015 draft camp attendee that was invited to Springfield’s main cam where he made the team for the 2015-16 season. In 2 seasons in Springfield, he is a 2-time NAHL Top Prospect Showcase selection.
For those interested in attending the Springfield Jr. Blues 2017 Draft Camp, please visit www.jrblues.com/draft-camp-2017