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USHL Fall Classic set to begin this week

by Mike G. Morreale

The 2012 United States Hockey League Fall Classic, one of the more heavily scouted junior tournaments in North America, is slated to begin Wednesday at two venues in Sioux City, Iowa.

This marks the sixth consecutive season that the league's annual preseason showcase, which concludes Saturday, will be hosted by the Sioux City Musketeers. All 16 USHL member clubs will compete in three preseason games during the event at either the Tyson Events Center or I.B.P. Ice Center.

The schedule for the USHL Fall Classic can be accessed off the league's home page.

"The event continues to be a boon for the city, while fans and organizers get to watch the most talented junior hockey players in the country,'" Musketeers Executive Vice President Rich Zaber said in a release.

The 2011 Fall Classic reportedly earned an estimated $1.75 million for the Siouxland area. The league expects well over 200 NHL and collegiate scouts in attendance for the four-day event.

The USHL, known for developing players for the collegiate ranks, saw 28 participants from the league selected at the 2012 Draft in Pittsburgh. Six players who spent the 2011-12 season in the USHL were chosen in the first round. Among that group was U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program defenseman Jacob Trouba, who was chosen ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets.

The Buffalo Sabres traded to acquire the No. 14 pick and, with that pick, chose Dubuque Fighting Saints forward Zemgus Girgensons.

There are several players from this year's USHL crops, who will participate at the Fall Classic, considered to be potential first-round draft picks at the 2013 Draft in Newark, N.J., on June 28. That list includes forwards J.T. Compher and Hudson Fasching of the USNTDP, defenseman Michael Downing of the Dubuque Fighting Saints, forward Luke Johnson of the Lincoln Stars and defenseman Ian McCoshen of the Waterloo Black Hawks.

"The event is always so wonderfully organized, going back to my days as a scout," Musketeers head coach Brett Larson said. "Seeing everything firsthand this past year gave me further appreciation of what it takes to put on an event like this.

"It's great for the city, the organization and local hockey fans."

Larson, incidentally, was recently named the head coach of the U.S. Select Team that will compete in the 2012 World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Nov. 5-11.

The Fall Classic will be followed by another huge scouting event on Sept. 29 in Buffalo when USA Hockey's inaugural CCM/USA All-American Prospects Game is held at First Niagara Center. The game will feature 40 of the top draft-eligible American-born players in North America, including 32 who have played in the USHL.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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