Photo by: Western University Athletics
With U SPORTS hockey being in its off-season, teams will now be facing the challenge of having to fill up the roster holes from graduating players. Similar to junior hockey, U SPORTS players only get a certain number of years of eligibility. In most cases that number is five years.
The main source of new players in U SPORTS hockey comes from recruiting. When teams are recruiting players, they need to do their fair share of scouting. Unlike major junior and professional teams, U SPORTS programs have far fewer resources and staff for recruitment.
Ontario Tech Ridgebacks Head of Hockey Operation, Sean Meyers.
Photo by: Ontario Tech Athletics
Head of Hockey Operations for the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks, Sean Meyers, says that their program has six individuals in scouting and recruiting.
Scouting is a long and thought-out process that all members must be on the same page for.
“You just don't leave any stone unturned really in junior, like you got to kind of evaluate coast-to-coast and see what kind of talents out there,” said Meyers.
With the lack of resources available to U SPORTS hockey programs, teams need to find different methods to the recruitment process.
Ontario Tech Ridgebacks Head Coach, Curtis Hodgins.
Photo by: Ontario Tech Athletics
Head coach of the Ridgebacks, Curtis Hodgins, says that they must lean on the resources they have as much as possible. "You could see everybody's stats and numbers online with a couple of clicks. You utilize your network extensively. People I know in the game from my junior hockey days, you're always reaching out to people and get the opinions,” said Hodgins. “You'll have coaches that you've known over the years that trust you, reach out with players of their own.”
Hodgins said that the most ideal set up for him would be to be in the stands and watching every player’s game, he would be able to see everything between body language, and how he interacts with teammates and coaches. Unfortunately, he says that is just not an option.
A more recent tool that teams in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) have access to is InStat.
InStat is an online program that gives coaches and scouts the ability to watch any one players individual shifts from their entire season.
“That's a big-time saver for coaches now,” said Hodgins.
Ontario Tech Ridgebacks forward, Andrew Suriyuth.
Photo by: Corrado Distefano
Ontario Tech forward, Andrew Suriyuth, finished his first U SPORTS year this spring. He was a 2020 recruit that joined the team, but that season was lost due to COVID-19.
“I played junior all the way up to my 20-year-old year, then that's when I got in contact with scouts, it was actually Hodgy [Hodgins] that reached first I think,” said Suriyuth.
He said that the scouring process is simple, it starts with a few phone calls, and then a meet with the programs staff, and then a visit to the campus. But, Suriyuth also had another source of information about the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.
“Actually, Leif Hertz (Ridgeback goaltender) is a good friend of mine from Kingston. He was around the team, so being able to bounce some ideas off him and ask him about the team, asking him about how he likes it was also really good. And when it came down to it, it was probably the best fit for me.”
Suriyuth finished this season with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 14 games.
“The hockey's really good. And, to a guy that may think that U SPORTS may not be the way to go, I think that's a big mistake. It's a great way to develop your game, look at all the guys that have gone on to have professional careers coming right out of U SPORTS.”