Three consecutive weekends of tournament action draw the attention of pro, college, junior scouts to New England
You know when you have nearly 100 teams flocking to the Boston area in the middle of July for hockey, you have something big going on.
The Chowder Cup series is back for another set of summer hockey weekends, and by the way, that 100 number is just for the first of three scheduled weekends.
The puck drops today on the Mini Chowder Cup, which has teams from the 2008 and 2009 birth-years dragging their gear into the Foxboro Sports Center for a four-day tournament.
Fifty-eight teams are playing in the ’08 classification, and 39 are playing in the ’09.
Next week, it’s the Junior Chowder Cup, with 80 teams coming for the ’06 birth year, and 88 coming for the ’07 class.
The Senior Chowder Cup breaks into two divisions — the Jr. A Division and the College Open Teams division. The Jr. A Division — which has 76 teams participating — allows for 2002 birth-year players through 2005 birth-year players. The College Open Division features 2003, 2004 and 2005 birth-years — and that one has 77 teams slated to partake.
These tournament teams are selects-based, created for this particular event; you won’t recognize any of the usual AAA winter squads or anything of the sort.
What is noticeable are the names on the scouting list and alumni from the Chowder Cup series. In the 2021 NHL Draft, 23 Chowder Cup alums were selected, including first-round picks Matty Beniers (No. 2 overall, Seattle) and Matt Coronato (No. 12 overall, Calgary).
In 2020, even more Chowder Cup alums were selected — 32 in total. Three of those were in the top 10 picks of the draft, in fact, as Quinton Byfield (No. 2 overall, Los Angeles), Jamie Drysdale (No. 6 overall, Anaheim) and Cole Perfetti (No. 10 overall, Winnipeg) had all made the trek to Boston to play in the Mini Chowder Cup as young hockey players. Byfield was the tournament MVP of the 2002 birth year in 2015 as he posted 12 points in six games to lead Rink Eye Selects to a title.
Also of note, all three of those guys are Canadian, which means the Chowder Cup has some border-crossing appeal.
More recently, Cole Eiserman — expected to be one of the stars of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) Under-17 Team next fall — was named to the all-tournament team of the Mini Chowder Cup in 2019. Current NTDP stand-out Will Smith was tournament MVP of the ‘05 birth-year in 2018.
With elite talent like that skating in the summer tournaments, it’s easy to see why the scouts show up in Massachusetts during golf season, too. According to the Chowder Cup’s website, scouts from the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators and NHL Central Scouting will all be in attendance for the older groups, while a substantial collection of NCAA Division-I and Division-III coaches will be there as well.
Likewise, staff members from USHL, NAHL, NCDC, EHL, USPHL and NA3HL teams will be watching the Chowder Cup closely, as will a number of agencies and scouting services.
If you’re looking for exposure with Canadian junior programs, you get your wish at the Chowder Cup, too, as the OHL, QMJHL, OJHL, and AJHL are all represented.