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Top prospects to undergo testing before game

by Mike G. Morreale

Before 40 of the top 2014 NHL Draft-eligible prospects from the Canadian Hockey League showcase their ability at the 2014 BMO 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.

All 40 of the players competing in the game will be put through those tests Tuesday at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, home of the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League and the site of the Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet).

These standardized tests, which will be conducted by Sport Testing Inc., have been completed in all three CHL leagues for the past four years and will be performed on all athletes participating. This will provide players, coaches and scouts detailed comparative data on an athlete's athletic ability.

The CHL has been using Sport Testing since 2010 at various skills combines at the bantam and minor-midget level to assess top OHL, WHL and QMJHL draft prospects for such gameplay qualities as speed, agility, explosiveness, stick handling and reaction time. Highly accurate measurement technologies and standard test protocols provide apples-to-apples benchmarking data that has shown a tight correlation to hockey performance.

The on-ice component for the Top Prospects Game 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 element will involve grip strength, seated medicine ball chest toss, vertical jump, standing broad jump and agility and body control.

"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.

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 coaches strengths, weaknesses and areas they should target for improvement. 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 provide our services again this year for the Top Prospects [Game]," Sport Testing co-founder Jonathon Hollins said. "I am looking forward to this year’s event. We have tested many of these athletes in the past and I am excited to see their progression."


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