Tuesday, October 03, 2017


We went to Pittsburgh for the USHL Fall Classic last week.

Sixteen teams, by invitation, played games in Pittsburgh with an inconceivable number of scouts in attendance. Eli 16.2 played a game with 50+ scouts watching.

They weren't all watching him, obviously. Maybe none of them were there for him (likely), but they still saw him on the ice.

His team went 2-1-1 (Eli was 1-1, and his loss was to the #2 team in the country), and they will probably be ranked around 15th when the new rankings are released tomorrow. This is a fast, highly skilled, high effort team, and if they keep playing like they played in the last two games of the trip, they'll be in the top ten soon.

It's hard to even explain how much better kids are in U16 than U15. Just one year, but the development difference is enormous, as is the speed and power. That's what happens to a ton of kids--they're good enough to make a AAA team, but they don't realize how much better they have to get each year to make it again.

Eli understands that, though. He's the one who told me, a month into the season last year.

What I've noticed most so far this season, besides how much faster he's gotten, is how much tougher he's become mentally. There were games last season when things would go against him, or his team wouldn't be playing well, and his body language would change. It's a subtle thing, but it was there, and when his body language was like that, I knew he wasn't going to play well.

This year, though, that's not happening. If something goes wrong in a game, his body language never changes, and neither does his level of play.

The other change I've noticed is that he's become a much better game manager. He talks to his defensemen much more effectively, and he plays as part of the team's defensive scheme instead of just stopping the puck. That's a much higher level of all-around play, and he handles it well. Plus, I think he enjoys it, too.

He's on the cusp of a lot of things right now. As long as he keeps getting better, I like his chances.

These trips and games, though, are really taking a toll on me. The anxiety is enormous, particularly before and during games. I tend to lose weight on every trip because I'm just not hungry, then eat it back when we're home (although in Pittsburgh we went to a place called "Burgatory" that was both outrageously expensive and incredibly delicious).

I have some pictures and general thoughts about Pittsburgh, and I'll write about that for the next couple of days.

Site Meter