68 of the best ’08s in the U.S. showcase their skills at summer combine
Thursday night marked the official start of the CCM 68 Combine, but the real action starts today.
Each summer, some of the best players — both boys and girls — in the upcoming 14U age group gather in Chicago for a four-day camp for training, learning and competing in the event put on by 200×85 and CCM.
Thirty-six forwards, 24 defensemen and eight goalies are split into four teams for each gender, and the teams are put through training and testing while also competing in games. On- and off-ice testing is reminiscent of the NHL Draft combine, as players are provided with information to gauge their abilities against the country’s best.
The CCM 68 alumni list paints quite a picture for how successful the staff has been at bringing together future stars. Oliver Wahlstrom, K’Andre Miller, Cam York, Cole Caufield and Spencer Knight are just some of the players who have skated in the prestigious summer event; more than 150 alumni have made NCAA Division-I commitments since the program’s inception.
In a more youth hockey-centric look, we took a deep dive into the 2006 birth year as it relates to the CCM 68, as they are now two years removed from the combine and on the cusp of junior hockey careers.
Nine of the 13 forwards selected for this upcoming season’s U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 Team (USNTDP) — Austin Baker (Little Caesars), Kamil Bednarik (New Jersey Rockets), Cole Eiserman (Shattuck-St. Mary’s), Kristian Epperson (Shattuck-St. Mary’s), James Hagens (Mount St. Charles), Christian Humphreys (Bishop Kearney Selects), Max Plante (Hermantown H.S.), Shane Vansaghi (St. Louis Jr. Blues) and Brodie Ziemer (Shattuck-St. Mary’s) — were standouts at the 2020 CCM 68 Combine.
Four of the eight defensemen — Logan Hensler (Hill Murray H.S.), Cole Hutson (North Jersey Avalanche), Noah Lapointe (Shattuck-St. Mary’s), John Whipple (Shattuck-St. Mary’s) — did as well.
One of the two goalies selected — Nicholas Kempf, who just led Chicago Mission to the Tier 1 15-Only National Championship this past spring — also participated in the 68’s, though his drive to the rink was considerably shorter than others.
Meanwhile, five of the 10 players selected in the first round of the USHL Phase-I Draft participated in the 68s as well: Aidan Park (Shattuck-St. Mary’s), Geno Carcone (Bishop Kearney), Adam Kleber (Chaska H.S.), Gavin Cornforth (Thayer Academy) and Drake Murray (Shattuck-St. Mary’s).
Considering that Will Felicio (Mount St. Charles), Owen Keefe (Boston Jr. Eagles) and Trevor Connelly (Long Island Gulls) signed USHL tender contracts to lock in roster spots, that puts the 2006 class at 36 alumni already embarking on junior hockey careers less than two years removed from their shared weekend in the Windy City.
This year’s group — the 2008s — will be trying to live up to the lofty expectations set by their predecessors. They will have a great deal of guidance this weekend to set them up for success in the future, when you consider the coaching staff expected to be in attendance:
Derek Lalonde – Detroit Red Wings (NHL) Head Coach
Seth Appert – Rochester Americans (AHL) Head Coach
Jackie Crum – University of Wisconsin (NCAA Women’s D1) Assistant Coach
Chris Ardito – Union College (NCAA Women’s D1) Assistant Coach
Peter Mannino – Colorado College (NCAA Men’s D1) Assistant Coach
Jen Wilson – Lake Forest College (NCAA Women’s D3) Head Coach
Gabriel Salinas-Jones – Founder of OA (Overcome Average) Athletics
The complete lineup of 2008s invited for the 2022 combine is available HERE.