RoughRiders to host ECEL showcase
By Matt Mackinder
Programs from more than 10 states and parts of Canada will converge on Westminster’s Ice Centre at the Promenade from Nov. 21-23 for an East Coast Elite League (ECEL) showcase event – the Rocky Mountain Challenge – that’s sure to generate plenty of interest from junior and college scouts and coaches.
The Rocky Mountain RoughRiders, who are charter members of the ECEL, will host the Challenge, which will feature more than 20 teams at the 14U, 16U and 18U levels.
Founded in 2013, the ECEL is a five-weekend showcase series that began this season with events in Michigan and Connecticut in October. After the Colorado event, the ECEL will host its remaining two festivals in Walpole, Mass. (Dec. 19-21) and Providence, R.I. (Feb. 13-15).
The ECEL Showcase Series is designed to provide top competition and exposure for elite teams and organizations throughout the country, says ECEL president and co-founder Peter Alden.
“We’re thrilled to be able to bring teams from all over to Colorado to play at the Promenade, which is a state-of-the-art facility,” said Alden. “The ECEL has representation from coast to coast, and the RoughRiders are a huge asset to our league.
“It’s a first-class organization that offers high-level teams and a professional approach. (Director of hockey operations) Derek Robinson and his staff have been a pleasure to work with, and his teams bring a special dynamic to the ECEL.”
And while the ECEL is an ideal avenue for RoughRiders players to get noticed and learn more about educational and playing opportunities on the East Coast, says the program’s 14U head coach, Nils Satterstrom, it’s also great to welcome teams from out east to Colorado.
“Having a showcase come to Denver is exciting,” said Satterstrom. “I’m sure the (NCAA Division I) Colorado schools (Air Force Academy, Colorado College, University of Denver) will take advantage of the opportunity to come scout the players from the East Coast as well.”
“West Coast play is different from East Coast play and vice versa, so it’s great for teams to experience varying styles,” added Alden. “The kids enjoy it, too, and that’s who we’re here to serve.”
During the showcase, United States Hockey League (USHL) director of player development and recruitment Doug Christensen will conduct a presentation, speaking to the teams on what the USHL has to offer and what it takes to play in the country’s only Tier I junior circuit.
“We’re thrilled to be able to host this event, and we look forward to a weekend of competitive hockey in all three age groups,” said Robinson. “We also look forward to having the USHL present; I know the majority of our players have aspirations to play in that league – and with good reason.”
RoughRiders 16U National team head coach Matt Huckins says that being a part of the ECEL is nothing but beneficial for the program’s players when it comes to reaching higher levels of the game.
“The ECEL has given our players a chance to gain exposure on the East Coast, allowing them to be scouted from September through March by the same colleges, which is huge,” Huckins said.
“And what’s great is that we offer exposure to players from the East Coast when we host in Denver. The three Division I schools in Colorado get to take a look at some players they hadn’t seen before, and I think that’s what makes the ECEL so diverse when it comes to scouting exposure.”