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Top prospects to have on- and off-ice skills tested

by Mike G. Morreale /

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Before the top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft from the Canadian Hockey League showcase their abilities at the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, they'll undergo a series of on- and off-ice tests that will provide NHL scouts and general managers an in-depth profile on each player.

All 40 of the players competing in the game Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SN, TVA Sports) will be put through those tests Wednesday at Meridian Centre, home of the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

The tests will be conducted by Sport Testing Inc., which has been conducting similar tests on players in all three leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League for the past five years, as well as at the bantam and minor-midget levels.

"We have been impressed with Sport Testing's professionalism at our events and their accuracy in assessing player potential," CHL President David Branch said. "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."

The on-ice component for the Top Prospect Game players Wednesday will have 10 individual measurements that break each player's game down into the essentials of speed, agility, explosiveness, stickhandling and reaction time.

The off-ice testing will include grip strength, seated medicine ball chest toss, vertical jump, standing broad jump and agility and body control.

There are three phases to the on-ice testing.

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

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

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

There also will be goalie-specific drills, organized into three phases: long- and short-recovery tests for the left and right side, the Y-Drill reaction pad slide, and the 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 the data to player peers and professionals. The data provides players and their coaches strengths, weaknesses and areas that should be targeted 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.


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