My name is Scott Mayfield and I'm a defenseman for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL. I'm eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and recently took part in the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation camp. I was asked if I would like to do a blog about the RDO camp, the USHL and my experiences in the upcoming season. I thought I'd start out with a little about myself and the RDO camp.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I started playing hockey with the Webster Wings organization when I was 4. Growing up I played youth hockey with the St. Louis Rockets, the Chesterfield Falcons and the St. Louis Amateur Blues. I also played high school hockey for two years at Webster Groves High School.
Eighteen months ago I had no idea any of this would ever happen. I believed I would play with the Amateur Blues until I graduated from Webster Groves High School this year. A lot of what's happened has been about being in the right place at the right time, starting with my team, the Blues, hosting the Tier I U-16 Nationals. After that, I was drafted by Indiana in the USHL, traded to Youngstown, selected for Team USA for the Ivan Hlinka tournament, and committed to Denver University.
Sometimes I think about what would have happened if I wouldn’t have played at Nationals. Last summer, I went from practicing and playing pick-up games with my buddies in St. Louis to playing games in Europe with and against first-round NHL draft picks -- crazy. This was the start of introducing me to a whole new level of play.
I'll write more about Youngstown and the Phantoms, but for now I'll just say my first year in the USHL was at different times the most difficult, fun, humbling, challenging, frustrating and rewarding time of my life.
It was a huge honor to be selected for the NHL RDO Camp. The experience was amazing, and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to play for Coach Ken Hitchcock and be on the ice with so many good players. I roomed with Seth Ambroz, another USHL player who, until the camp, I had only played against. I really enjoyed meeting all the new guys and being able to play with some of the top players in North America for my age. I was really motivated by how good some of these kids were. Anyway, I enjoyed rooming with Seth and look forward to bumping into him when we play Omaha this year.
I couldn't believe that the NHL wanted me to be a part of testing new rules, but it was smart for the NHL to pick the players it did because we played hard. We definitely didn't want to look bad in front of all of the NHL general managers, or each other. We tested many new rules. There were different face off styles, different rules pertaining to penalty kills, icing, offsides, and a few different rules about overtimes and shootouts. Personally, I like hybrid icing. I'm already used to this because the USHL uses it.
Hybrid icing is more challenging for the officials, though, and I think it may give fans something to yell about. I also liked getting chosen for faceoffs, being a tall defenseman, I don't get to take faceoffs too often. I found the red mesh and completely newly-designed rink extremely interesting. All in all, it was fun, and I really enjoyed getting a chance to meet and play with some great players that I know will be in the NHL someday.
I really enjoy this Youngstown team and the organization. Our head coach, Curtis Carr, has done a lot for our team and for me personally. We've had six preseason games and two regular season games. Three of our preseason games were at the USHL Fall Classic, the most heavily scouted junior tournament in the United States. I really enjoy being at the classic because it opens your eyes to all the new teams and players in the league. I consider the classic to be extremely important because it is the first impression that scouts, coaches, and other teams will have going into the season.
This past weekend was a huge weekend for us as we went 2-0 on the road in the opening weekend of the USHL season. Now that the season is underway, we can finally get into a routine and really focus on playing our best and winning games. The team is bonding great and I really believe we have a team that can go far this season. There is no question that our goal is to be the best we possibly can and win the Clark Cup. I know we can do it.
In November, I will have a lot more to tell you about Youngstown, the USHL, and the differences between my rookie season and this year.