The United States Premier Hockey League is one of the top circuits for amateur players in the country, as well as a pipeline for NCAA Division I college hockey programs.
Altoona native Adam Badorrek hopes that his participation on the United States Premier Hockey League's Connecticut Junior Rangers team will provide him with an opportunity to hone his skills while attracting Division I attention.
"I would say that it's a very good league,'' Badorrek said of the United States Premier Hockey League. "The basis of this league is to get Division I or Division III college commits. Playing in this league is a big step for me, and hopefully, I can be ready for it, and impress every one back home.''
Badorrek, 19, impressed members of the coaching staff well enough during tryouts with the Connecticut Rangers that he was offered a one-year contract to play for the team, which competes against other New England teams in the USPHL's Premier Division for players ages 19 and above.
"There was a tryout in the middle of April, and from there, I had to go to one more showcase, which was held about a month ago in Boston,'' said Badorrek, who will be a defenseman with the Rangers. "After that, I was offered a contract.''
The tryouts involved players working together as members of a team, as well as showcasing their individual skills.
"The tryouts involved a lot of teamwork, and luckily for me, there was an individual skill part, which really helped me (make the team),'' Badorrek said. "There were scrimmages, a lot of 2-on-2 and corner battles, and a good bit of skating in the beginning.''
The tryouts were by invitation only, and Badorrek estimated that 18 to 20 people were selected for the team out of the 30 to 40 players who tried out.
Badorrek played both defense and forward in this area for the Altoona Trackers traveling team, the Altoona Area High School team and the Mid-State Mustangs traveling team, which won six state championships and two national titles.
"In high school, I played center, and on the traveling teams, I mainly played defense,'' Badorrek said. "I feel a lot more comfortable on defense. I get a better view of the ice, and I can also rush the puck up the ice and be sort of an offensive defenseman.''
Dave Weaver, Badorrek's long-time coach with both the Trackers and Mustangs, said that Badorrek - who played club hockey on the Penn State Altoona team last winter - is highly-skilled both offensively and defensively.
"He's one of the best defenders that I've ever coached, but he's one of those defenders who can also add an offensive punch,'' Weaver said of Badorrek. "He's a two-way type of player who is very difficult to beat, and who also has the ability to score big goals. Adam is certainly a player who has NCAA potential. This kid can play Division I hockey if he gets the right opportunity. The sky is the limit for him.''
Weaver helped open some doors for Badorrek by contacting Connecticut Rangers coach Vincent Montalbano. From that point on, Badorrek did all the legwork to earn himself a spot on the team.
"I made some phone calls that helped him get some tryouts with some junior teams, and he did the rest,'' Weaver said. "He made the team in a very good junior league, and now he will be seen by a lot of Division I and Division III college hockey programs. I'm very excited for him.''
Montalbano is impressed with Badorrek's savvy on the ice.
"He's a smart player,'' Montalbano said of Badorrek. "He moves the puck really well. I think that he is going to be working his way into the lineup and probably be helping us this year.''
Badorrek said that he will move to Stamford, Conn., home city of the Rangers, in mid-August, to be with the team for the start of the season in September.
"If we don't make the playoffs, the season will be done in late March,'' he said. "If we do make the playoffs, we'd be done in early April. Everything is different for me, but I'm looking forward to the whole season. I feel that it will be a step in the right direction.''