Estero, Fla.-- The Florida Jr. Blades traveled to Marlborough, Massachusetts for the Eastern Junior Hockey League showcase. The heavily
scouted provided Jr. Blades players to be seen by some of the top colleges and scouts in the country. It also gave the team the
opportunity to clinch the 100 win in franchise history.
The Jr. Blades began playing in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League for the 2010-11 season before moving to the Empire Junior Hockey League beginning in 2011-12. Both leagues feature 40 game seasons and the Jr. Blades only required two and a half to reach the 100 win milestone.
With a franchise record of 100-19-5 the team continues to build on its culture of winning.
"Our goal is to develop winners on and off the ice in their character, performance and expectations of themselves and their teammates," said head coach and general manager Tad O'Had. "We've had a unique opportunity in Florida to build a great program from the ground up with influences from our professional neighbors (ECHL Florida Everblades)."
If their is one thing the Jr. Blades have learned from their reigning Kelly Cup Champion neighbors, it's not all about winning, it's about
"The focus has never been solely on winning it's about playing perfect," said O'Had. "It's understanding our positioning, training regiment, developing our skill sets and gelling as a team."
The team underwent a 14-day training camp to open the season. The focus was on not on winning, but progression with players being taught how to test their limits and push past their barriers. The result was a roster full of players working towards their goals.
"We break the season down into three sections," said O'Had. "The goal is to scale upward for playoff and national success."While the Jr. Blades are still in the hunt for their first national championship they've had many success in only 2.5 seasons. The team has made consecutive appearances at the USA Hockey National tournament, broke league records for most goals scored, fewest goals against, highest winning percentage and most short-handed goals.
The success of the program comes as no surprise to those familiar with the depth of the Jr. Blades program. Starting with recruiting, the Jr. Blades build a team with character. "We start by recruiting the best players possible," said O'Had. "Then we focus on family and hockey, providing players with the best environment to develop and grow."
The Jr. Blades organization has a multi-tiered development strategy. Providing players with over 200 hours of practice time, 250 hours of on and off ice conditioning and a full staff dedicated to helping the players succeed.
"Winning is important to us," said O'Had. "We provide an environment where we not only win, but our players advance to the next level."
In less than three seasons the 'Blades have advanced 17 players onto Tier I/II junior as well as NCAA/ACHA and minor pro. The team has seven current or former players deciding on their college hockey futures.
For Tad O'Had win 100 means one thing: "we are doing things the right way."
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