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Behind the Bench -- Adam Houli

By Nexlevel Hockey, 11/22/20, 12:00PM EST


Nexlevel Hockey Sits Down With 87's Head Coach and General Manager

WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ -- The 2020-21 hockey season has brought with it many new partnerships for the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and the Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP). Nexlevel hockey is one of these new partners, and the advising agency offers a qualified, experienced staff of advisors to help players navigate Junior and Collegiate hockey.

NL: Your team hasn’t lost in regulation (13-0-2), so far this season. Tell us about your team in terms of how you built it during the off-season? Do you have geographic areas you focus on with recruiting? Try-out camps? What is your process?

AH: We are fortunate to get off to the start of the season like we have. We build our teams throughout each year within the year. For us, we try to project where are current team is going to finish with possible returners, we then look to our Premier team to gauge what players are ready to make the jump to the EHL team. Once we have a clear understanding of our internal picture, we then attempt to see what we need and what type of players we want to recruit. We work extremely hard to recruit the type of player we want, and that player can come from almost anywhere in the country. We like players who can skate, think the game at a high level and love to compete.  We have steered away from tryout camps as we like to be focused and authentic when we recruit a player. Every player we talk to, we make sure we have spent numerous hours watching online and live prior to our first talks. 

NL: What would you tell a player or family if they want to play for your organization next season? What is the process if they want to connect? Do they just call? Email? Fill out a player questionnaire? Sign up for try-out camp?

AH: Any player who would like to be an 87 should always start by filling out our player interest form on our website or social media accounts.  Once we see there is an interest, we will start our internal process and put the player on our recruit board. From there, the player can expect a member of our staff to reach out and begin conversations. If a player is coming from an advisor, we usually start talks with them and then progress to more personal talks with the recruits. 

NL: The EHL is a good league…. A really good league! Can you talk about the league in general and how it has developed into a huge part of the ladder of development in the U.S.?

AH: The league has become so strong because we have focused on making our players aware of who they are and what they can achieve. While we remain a league that predominantly dominated the division 3 ranks, we are beginning to see younger players play in our league because of how difficult our league is on a day in and day out basis. Playing against older, junior level players has allowed younger players to develop quick and make the jump high in the ladder of development. Our players who remain steadfast of reaching a division 2 or 3 commitment understand that if you can find success in our league it will translate to the college game and beyond. We are a league that understands, adapts, and delivers. 

NL: Can you talk about how you run your program? The practices, video sessions, workouts, etc. What is the structure of your program? You are obviously doing something right having the best record in the league to date (knock on wood!).

AH: We run our program under the idea we will always be professional, innovative, and unique. If we cannot provide this to our players, we will not get what we ask from them. We demand a tremendous amount, and we expect our results to be driven by our performances both on and off the ice. We use InStat for our analytics and video breakdown of our games, we record our practices for immediate video review if need be and we make sure our players are taken care of from practice to games. We fully believe if you put everything into your program that benefits the players, the players will in turn do everything to make it successful. We try and run our program by taking a mix of everything we have learned and observed from others. We continue to fine tune what we do and we always make sure we are learning and growing. 

NL: Some players in your league gain college commitments to schools, and some move on to other levels of Junior Hockey.

NL CONTINUED: If you had a player that was, for example a 2003 right now and he was excelling, would you try to help that player try to reach a league such as the NAHL?

AH: Without a doubt, we will. It is the main reason we are in the business. Our goal is to develop the player both on and off the ice. If a player has the ability to climb the ladder, we need to support, educate, and deliver. We have shown in our short history that we fully believe in this statement and we have done so in the past with our players.