By JORDAN PARKER
It’s that time of the year where the Alberta Junior Hockey League gives their young players the chance to show off for pro scouts of every ilk.
The annual AJHL Showcase, held in Camrose. This year, will be the 11th edition.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the players. The guys in the league who have been here a while get to come and show their development to scouts from all over,” said Daniel Blazevic, scout for the Grande Prairie Storm.
Blazevic noted NHL, CIS, NCAA and WHL clubs will have representatives at the event.
“This is everyone’s opportunity to show what they’re made of. Whether they’re veterans or rookies, they have that shot,” he said.
“It might be difficult to look in the stands and see so many scouts, but showing their stuff is crucial.”
He said it would benefit many players to get on scouts’ radars.
“We’ve seen guys from the AJHL have great chances in the NHL. The games this weekend mean something,” he said.
“They matter in the standings, and this type of chance isn’t given by every league.”
He has high expectations for the young Storm squad.
“They have high-end talent, a potent offence and a tight back-end defence structure. If they come together and gel this will be a great team,” he said.
Blazevic need only look at the recent success of University of Vermont signee, 16-year-old Zach Okabe to see the product of hard work.
“Young Okabe is doing so well. With so many NCAA scouts there, I could see more of our guys progressing to the next level. They’re capable of grabbing attention,” he said.
“We all want to develop these guys, and it’s amazing to see a talented, gifted player do so well. We wish Okabe and all our players success.”
He had one bit of advice for his guys going into the AJHL Showcase.
“Have fun. Enjoy the moment. It’s such a unique opportunity that not everyone gets,” he said.
“These guys are here for a reason. They need to play grassroots hockey and remember all the reasons they love the game. That will come through.”
The Storm play the Brooks Bandits Friday and Calgary Mustangs Saturday at the Showcase.