Hockey’s Future is pleased to present the first installment of what should be an interesting series on the East Coast Selects program. Travis Howe, one of the co-founders of this organization, will be providing his observations and experiences of this fast-rising developmental program on a monthly basis.
The East Coast Selects (ECS) Hockey Program was formed in 2003 with a simple goal- to provide elite players from all over North America an opportunity to compete against, and play with, other top players from around the world.
On January 1st, 2003, 65 players (born ’89) were invited to a one-day tryout in Voorhees, New Jersey. Originally, we were just building a team to enter the Stockholm Youth Trophy in Stockholm, Sweden. Surprisingly, players from all over the eastern U.S. and Canada traveled hundreds of miles to New Jersey to tryout on New Year’s Day. Former NHL players Ulf and Kjell Samuelsson (no relation) chaired the Evaluation Committee. It was very important to us to have a committee that had never seen any of these kids play before so as to ensure a fair and unbiased tryout.
After a successful and exciting trip to Scandinavia, we decided to grow our program and become more of a full spring/summer program. This past year, we held tryouts for the ’90 age group and completed another successful trip to Sweden. Our format for the 2005 season has changed into an “invitation only” selection.
In 2004, the East Coast Selects competed in a total of eight tournaments and fielded teams at the ’89, ’90 and ’91 levels. Of those eight tournaments, there were five First-Place finishes and three Second-Place finishes. Since the inception of ECS in 2003, no team has ever failed to reach the finals of a tournament.
The ’89 team won two of four tournaments (finalists in the other two). Tournament victories at the Mission Cup and ECS Invitational were challenging, as was our second place finishes in the Quebec Bulldogs Invitational and Jr. Chowder Cup.
The ’90 team won two of three tournaments (finalists in the other one). Tournament victories at the Mission Cup and Bantam Mission Challenge were extremely challenging, as was our second place finish at the Ronald McDonald Tournament.
In addition to the tournament, we traveled to Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland for a tour of exhibition matches and European training.
This was an introductory year for the ’91 players. We participated in the Beantown Classic (organized by the Boston Jr. Bruins program) where we ended up defeating the Jr. Bruins in the finals. Next year will feature a full schedule of events.
Game Report from ’89 Mission Cup vs. Quebec Bulldogs
Perhaps the most memorable and rewarding victory of the ’89 team was their semifinal win versus the Quebec Bulldogs at the Montreal Mission Cup. The Bulldogs had been our toughest opponent the past two years. With players like Angelo Esposito, Nicolas Riopel, Pacho Grzesczak, Simon Lacroix, Olivier Fortier, Sam Gagne, and Eric Filou, the Bulldogs were always a difficult match.
Prior to that game, we had just lost to the Bulldogs 2-1 the night before and had never beaten this team in two years (combined 0-3 record). Heading into our semifinal match the next morning, we knew we could play better by playing more intelligent hockey. We felt we had outworked them the night before, but didn’t out-think them. The semifinal match proved to be a great one in front of hundreds of fans. The game went back and forth, and after two periods, the score was 2-1 in favor of the Bulldogs. But this time, however, we were outplaying them and outshooting them. We knew that we just had to keep our composure and start finishing our chances. We did exactly that and scored to tie it at two. And in overtime, we scored once more to end the game 3-2. This was certainly the most rewarding victory for our team as we overcame a lot as a group to beat our most difficult opponent. Players such as our goaltender, Andrew Margolin, proved they could overcome adversity and win big games.
NOTE: All team rosters and player statistics are available on our web site at www.eastcoastselects.com
The Key Goals of ECS are:
- To play the very best competition
- To provide maximum exposure
- To develop players through professional quality coaching
- To have fun!
Our players receive the highest level of coaching, stressing key factors such as team play, basic hockey systems and discipline. We demand character, determination and class from every ECS player.
We are able to provide exposure through contacts with numerous prominent organizations, including International Scouting Services (ISS), US & Canada Junior programs, NCCA College programs and Prep Schools.
’90 Rising Star:
Dylan O’Neil – Forward – 5’8″, 174 lbs. – 10/2/90 – Current Team: Markham Waxers
Dylan O’Neil is a strong forward with gifted offensive abilities. He is a two-way forward who works as hard as anyone. O’Neil is a good skater and has a very hard wrist shot that seems to find the net. He plays very physical and is extremely difficult to knock off the puck. O’Neil’s accountability in his own end of the ice makes him an asset to the team in most any game situation.
Dylan led all ECS ’90 players in scoring with 17 points (9 goals / 8 assists) in 12 games.
Dylan O’Neil is currently playing with the Markham Waxers in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA).
’89 Rising Star:
Michael Biega – Forward – 6’0″, 172 lbs. – 5/28/89 – Current Team: Salisbury Prep
Michael Biega is a top prospect at the ’89 level. He is a versatile forward that can play in all situations of a game. Biega is a strong skater, handles the puck well, and plays the game hard. He delivers punishing hits when needed and buries his scoring chances. In the Jr. Chowder Cup Tournament (which is primarily an ’88 tournament), Biega scored two goals and added two helpers in the championship game. He was one of two ‘89s selected (along with teammate Andrew Margin –Goaltender) to the All-Tournament team.
Biega was 3rd on the team in scoring with 22 points (10 goals / 12 assists) in only 15 games.
Michael Biega is currently playing with Salisbury Prep in Connecticut alongside his older brother, Alex.
East Coast Selects Staff
John St. Pierre