CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- With the opening of the 185,000-square-foot UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the Pittsburgh Penguins hope to be considered to host the NHL Draft Combine in the future.
CHICAGO, IL - The United States Hockey League announced that the USHL Fall Classic will return to suburban Pittsburgh for the second consecutive season. The preseason showcase will be hosted at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, PA from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, and for the first time since the 2012-13 season, all 17 organizations that compete in the USHL will take to the ice in one location. Schedules, tickets and additional information will be announced at a later date.
"The USHL Fall Classic always provides the ideal scouting opportunity for the management and scouts of the 31 NHL teams to view the top USHL talent available for the NHL Draft," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. "This year provides an even more unique opportunity with all 17 USHL teams participating in one location. The Fall Classic serves as an important evaluation benchmark for players heading into the 2018 NHL Draft, and we are pleased that this successful event is part of a growing partnership between the USHL, NHL and Pittsburgh Penguins."
"Pittsburgh is a thriving hockey market on many levels and the Penguins and community leaders aggressively pursued the return of the nation's only Tier 1 junior league," said Bob Fallen, USHL President and Commissioner. "The Penguins have won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with more NCAA players on their roster than any other NHL team. The USHL produces more NCAA Division 1 talent than any league in the world, and this will be a great opportunity for fans and scouts to see future NCAA and NHL talent, all under one roof."
In addition to the return of the USHL Fall Classic, the USHL announced that two invitational youth tournaments, one featuring many of the top 14U teams and the other hosting many of the top 16U teams from the United States and Canada, will run in conjunction with the USHL Fall Classic. USHL teams will have scouts in attendance for both tournaments, and coaches from both college hockey and other junior hockey leagues across the globe will also be in attendance. Aligning the USHL Fall Classic and the youth tournaments will provide young players an up-close and personal view of the speed, skill and tenacity required to play junior hockey at the Tier 1 level.
"Last year's USHL Fall Classic youth tournaments were a great success both from a scouting perspective and from a talent point of view," said Doug Christiansen, USHL Director of Player Development and Recruitment. "Players were committing to colleges following last year's tournament, USHL scouts were able to benchmark players prior to the beginning of the season, and we had extremely competitive hockey in late September. We are excited to see who will be crowned as Fall Classic youth champions this year."
The USHL Fall Classic marks a return to the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex one season after the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms, hosted the highly successful 2016 USHL Fall Classic East, and two seasons after the Pittsburgh Penguins successfully hosted the 2015 Pittsburgh Showcase, a regional USHL preseason event. This year, the Penguins organization will host all 17 USHL member clubs, 16 16U teams and 16 14U teams.
"The Pittsburgh Penguins are excited and honored to have the USHL Fall Classic return to Cranberry and the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex for the second straight year," said David Morehouse, President and CEO of the Penguins. "We are strong supporters of hockey development at all levels and are continually impressed with the job the USHL does to create opportunities for these outstanding young players. We look forward to hosting them once again in late September."
The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, which opened in the fall of 2015, is the official practice facility of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins and also home to the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite youth hockey program. The complex is 185,000 square feet and includes two sheets of ice with a combined 1,333 seats between the two rinks. Over 1,000 youth players participate in games, tournaments, camps and programs at the facility each year.
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