Plum hockey star Stonebraker returns to national showcase
Plum rising junior David Stonebraker knows all about Hockey Night In Boston and what it can mean for the top ice hockey prospects in the nation.
Last summer, Stonebraker played on a sophomore regional team that traveled to Boston for the annual showcase event and opened some eyes on the national stage.
Stonebraker recently made a return trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., in hopes of again earning placement on a regional squad that will head to Boston for the national showcase from July 26 to 31.
When the dust settled at the Midwest regional, Stonebraker found himself one of 11 forwards and 22 players overall selected for the Midwest Major team.
“It's a great opportunity,” said Stonebraker, who also plays for the Plum varsity and Pittsburgh Predators 18U AAA teams.
“There is so much talent coming from different places. It's fun to see what they are doing and what their talent is. It's fun to compete against them in front of a lot of scouts.”
The Midwest regional is set up as a showcase tournament, and each player is assigned to a team. There also is a combine that tests a variety of skills.
After several games played, the team was picked.
Stonebraker said last year's experience at the Midwest regional helped him know what to expect this time around.
“I am proud of him,” said Dave Stonebraker, David's dad and the head coach of the Plum varsity ice hockey team.
“I think what stands out about him right now is that he is putting in the time in the gym off the ice, as well as on the ice. That is extremely important for every hockey player who wants to make their mark. It is a combination of talent, strength and durability and having all those work together.”
The younger Stonebraker had surgery for a lung issue as an infant, and he's been battling through that ever since.
“He was told that he would never become an athlete in a sport that would involve endurance or running,” Stonebraker Sr. said.
“He's playing a sport that is one of the most difficult in the world as far as endurance. He has to work twice as hard, and he is doing that.”
There will be six to eight regional teams at the Hockey Night In Boston event at the end of the month. Each team will have a practice session, play at least six tournament games and have the chance to play in an all-star game.
“There will be 120 to 130 of the top-tier players from all over the country at the Boston showcase,” the elder Stonebraker said.
Hockey Night In Boston is in its 38th year. It is considered by many to be one of the top events for scouting and evaluating underclassmen players in the U.S.
According to the HNIB website, more than 250 HNIB alumni now are playing in college, and more than 50 players are on the rosters of teams in the American Hockey League or National Hockey League.
“It's kind of nerve-wracking, but it's also exciting,” the younger Stonebraker said. “You always know somebody is watching, whether it's at the showcase in Boston or during the hockey season. You have the opportunity to impress someone. You can never take a break.”
Stonebraker Jr. had a breakout season for the Mustangs in 2012-13. He finished with 15 goals and 13 assists in 19 regular-season games and two playoff contests.
Stonebraker's three playoff goals tied for the team lead with rising senior Joe Randazzo.
Plum finished the regular season 8-10-1 and went 1-1 in the Penguins Cup Class AA playoffs.
Junior high showcase
Stonebraker isn't the only Plum player taking part in the Hockey Night In Boston festivities.
Plum rising freshmen Anthony Borriello and Ryan Loebig will represent Team Pittsburgh in the junior high showcase from July 14 to 19.
The team is for area players entering grades eight or nine and was selected through a pair of tryouts at the Pittsburgh Ice Arena in New Kensington.
Approximately 45 to 50 players tried out for the 20-player Team Pittsburgh junior high team
“Players going to Boston will get some good exposure,” said Dom Borriello, Anthony's father.
“Boston is a huge hockey area for colleges, junior programs and prep schools. It is a showcase to show that talent to any schools or other scouts attending. It's a nice experience for them.”
Borriello and Loebig were two members of the core of the Plum junior high hockey team that went 14-1-1 in 16 regular-season games for the 2012-13 season.
The Mustangs played three playoff games, making it to the championship game of their eight-team tier tournament.
Plum defeated Quaker Valley, 5-4, and Butler, 6-1, before falling to Bishop McCort, 5-1, in the title matchup.
Borriello and Loebig each scored two goals and added three assists to tie for the top point total (five) in the playoffs.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.