While hockey is the basis of all New England Pro-Am’s tournaments, the events are more than just an opportunity for a player to skate against some of the best talent their age division has to offer. For Mike Beharrell and his Euro Hockey Connections organization, in what will be their 10th trip this coming May, the Pre-Draft Showcase has offered players from around the world the opportunity to come to New England for an education.
Based out of Sweden, Beharrell’s players come from all over Eastern Europe – including Russia, Finland, Germany and Switzerland to name a few – to join him for a chance to come across the Atlantic and learn about the game and the experience at the college and university level.
“When we come here, it’s more about those kids and their families getting an education,” Beharrell said during last year’s visit. “[The Pre-Draft] allows us to come over, to visit a couple of colleges, have some lectures and bring in some pro guys who’ve gone through it and educate families on how the process works.”
According to Beharrell, there is a growing interest amongst European players – particularly in Scandinavia – of the prospects of playing college hockey in the Unites States. Unlike the structured college athletic organizations there are in America, most players’ hockey careers might be ending when it came time to progress to the higher levels of upper education if they were to stay in Europe.
“[In America] you get a nice package,” Beharrell said.
Not only will Beharrell travel with a host of players to compete on the ice, but during their stay his group will arrange for a number of lectures on a variety of topics such as education, transitioning to play at the next level and life after hockey. Past lecturers include Slovak native and Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, former Boston University standout and Swedish centerman Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and Nate Ewell of College Hockey, Inc.
“We want to make sure that almost every kid that goes with us has an opportunity and exposure at [the Pre-Draft] to open doors for them,” Beharrell said. “At that point, they have enough information to make an educated decision if playing [in the United States] is the right road for them.
“Without question, every family that has attended with our group has loved the entire event.”