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Sport Testing Inc. to put top prospects to the test

by Mike G. Morreale

Before the top prospects of the Canadian Hockey League showcase their ability at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday, they'll undergo a series of on- and off-ice tests that will provide scouts and general managers an instant profile on each player.

On Tuesday morning, all 40 of the players competing in the game will be put through those tests at Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of the Halifax Mooseheads of Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The on-ice component, which will have 10 individual measurements that break each player's game down into the essentials of speed, agility, explosiveness, stickhandling and reaction time, will be conducted by Sport Testing Inc. Company co-founders Jonathan and Jamie Hollins and additional assistants will lead the testing.

The off-ice testing element involves grip strength, seated medicine ball chest toss, vertical jump, standing broad jump and agility and body control. The Canadian Hockey League has been using Sport Testing since 2010 in various combines at the bantam and minor-midget level to assess the gameplay qualities of top draft prospects.

"We have been impressed with Sport Testing's professionalism at our events and their accuracy in assessing player potential," CHL President David Branch said in a statement. "Their data reports are a blueprint to on-ice success and will showcase our players to NHL scouts. Sport Testing also gives quantifiable skill and fitness targets to the rest of the CHL players and those young athletes hoping to one day join our league."

There are three phases to the on-ice testing.

Phase 1 consists of a 30-meter sprint and reaction test to evaluate an athlete's forward and backward acceleration and speed. The tests are completed with and without the puck to challenge the athlete in fundamentals of skating and puck control.

Phase 2 consists of a weave agility to demonstrate an athlete's forward acceleration and ability to maintain speed while performing multi-directional movement. The prospects will be instructed to perform this drill once while controlling a puck and once without it.

Phase 3 is the transition agility test, which evaluates an athlete's directional transitions between forward and backward skating. The exercise calls for players to follow a figure-eight pattern around four flags.

Sport Testing also offers a series of goalie-specific drills in partnership with former NHL goalie Bob Essensa, who currently serves as goalie coach for the Boston Bruins. Essensa will not be on hand in Halifax.

The goalie testing also is organized into three phases, including long- and short-recovery tests for the left and right side, the Y-Drill reaction pad slide and pro agility slide. All tests are completed in full gear, with stick in hand.

The short-recovery test evaluates lateral crease mobility in both directions, movement speed and body control in tight spaces, and transitional speed from upright readiness to butterfly. The long-recovery test evaluates explosive speed out of the net, lateral movement across the crease in both directions, positional transition speed between upright and butterfly, and movement speed and body control over a distance.

The Y-Drill reaction pad slide tests reaction speed, total response time and multi-directional movement and agility. The pro agility pad slide measures a player's leg power, stopping ability, directional change and lateral movement and ability to maintain low coverage and stick control.

After a Sport Testing session, players and coaches can sign in to secure online accounts and compare their data to peers and professionals. The data provides players and their coaches strengths, weaknesses and areas they should target for improvement through training. The information also may be useful to track a player's progress and response to training programs, as well as return-to-play data in case of injury.

"We are delighted to work with the world's top major junior hockey league and future stars of the NHL," Jamie Hollins said. "The CHL's commitment to player development is unparalleled. I am really looking forward to watching young stars like Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin tear through our tests. I expect some records to fall."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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