(DETROIT, MICHIGAN – October 23, 2020) – Last weekend was a tremendous one for the Michigan Hockey Advancement (MHA) program at Total Package Hockey (TPH). At the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) Fall League championships in Blaine, Minnesota, both the 18U and 16U MHA teams were crowned champions.
For those unfamiliar, MHA is a pre-season program for Michigan high school players. The main goal and objective is exposure for players by using resources like The Prospect Exchange, a network of coaches and more. It’s a fantastic fall playing opportunity for dedicated, driven high-school level hockey players to prepare for their club seasons and gain exposure to coaches and scouts at the junior, collegiate and professional levels, while competing in a structured, team environment.
“It was our first year in the inaugural NAPHL fall league, and The NAHL and NAPHL have done a phenomenal job with marketing, broadcasting games on HockeyTV and utilizing social media for content about players,” said Rick Gadwa, MHA Program Director. “That, coupled with what we do for our players, was a great marriage this year. On the other side of exposure is preparation for their high school seasons. It does prepare them to play at a high level to get them ready for their seasons. We feel all of our players are leaders for their high school teams. Getting them ready to go is something that MHA takes a lot of pride in, and I think we’ve done a phenomenal job at it.”
MHA takes elite high school hockey players from around Michigan, places them together, trains them for competition and then takes them to tournaments. While it may be a challenge, it’s a worthwhile one.
“The special part about it all is that a lot of these players are rivals during the high school hockey season,” said Gadwa. “The challenge that we have is limited practice and a lot of travel and events. It’s unique how our groups are able to come together as one and play at such a high level with such limited time together. That’s testament to our MHA coaches and players, and their ability to adapt to the situation and perform at a high level. The players have great hockey IQ and professionalism in preparation. We grow quickly and fast together as a group. It’s pretty impressive.”
For teenagers to come together so quickly, it shows a great level of leadership amongst themselves. They may compete against each other during the regular high school season, but for a few months, they have to quickly come together to win.
“The guys that they pick for the team are superior,” said Lucas Krol of the 18U team. “There’s not a person I wouldn’t want on my team. It’s really key to be staying on the ice, and you can definitely see a difference when you come to your high school season and the shape you’re in. It elevates your game. It allows you to create key learning skills in leadership and allows it to grow. You mingle with one group of kids in high school and another group come fall. It builds your character as a person both inside and outside the rink.”
During the season, Krol, a forward, plays for Detroit Country Day School. This past fall was his third competing with MHA, but his first with the 18U team. This year was certainly the most successful for him and the team as he notched seven goals and one assist in eight games. This was a big year to make an impact as he hopes to play junior hockey after high school and then eventually on to Division I hockey, maybe even the pros.
“Throughout my three years, we hadn’t been very successful, so to cap off the final tournament of my career at TPH with a win was the icing on top of the cake to go into my senior season at Country Day,” said Krol. “It’s been great to be able to go out to Minnesota as many times as we did. It allows us to go to top tier tournaments to know where we’re at in the outside world and how we compare. It allows us to get exposure to teams we hopefully get to play for in the future.”
Goaltender Dylan Eliason just completed his second year with MHA. He previously played with the 15U team, and this year backstopped the 16U team going 3-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .929 save percentage. During the season, he tends the crease for Northville High School. His dreams are similar to many in the program in that he wants to play junior and then college hockey following his high school career, but for now, he’s enjoyed his experience with MHA.
“It was hard at first because we didn’t have a lot of practices between each tournament, but we were able to get back into the swing of things quickly,” said Eliason. “Luckily enough, there are always a few guys from the same school, which helps. Everyone kind of knows each other because of the hockey world, too, so it’s not that hard to get going with the energy and take us to victory. It was just a great time. The team connected well and easily. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
— NAPHL (@NAPHL) October 18, 2020
The weekend was a success for the two teams, but how is success measured overall for the program?
“I think success speaks through a couple things,” said Gadwa. “We look at our records against teams that are together through the week unlike us. We beat a lot of those teams. Scouts and coaches take notice of that. The reputation of the program has really exceeded itself. My phone has been ringing off the hook all fall from multiple teams around the country wanting to play us as well as junior and college coaches interested in our players. This year, in a unique year where there’s been more focus on video, the amount of feedback I’ve received is second to none compared to past seasons.”
The program continues to grow, bringing elite high school talent from around Michigan together to compete against teams from across the country. Be on the lookout to see more players making waves in the future with their roots coming from the Michigan Hockey Advancement program.
Learn more about Michigan Hockey Advancement here.