It all started one night in Europe with a dream in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s now culminated with the official start of the PBHH Invitational now taking place in Erie, PA.
Thanks to the efforts of four junior players: Andrew Perrott, Ryan Beck, Ryan Humphrey and Brendan Hoffmann, an idea to have a pre-draft showcase in response to the canceled season in the OHL is now reality. You can read more about that here.
Think for a moment how this came to be. Perrott was in Europe and he had this idea of a tournament. But it’s a pandemic. Who would want to come? Would anyone help advertise it? Even if some folks were interested, money would need to be raised. Lots of other factors such as border crossing and player safety would have to be addressed too. The idea was wonderful, but the task at hand was a daunting one.
That didn’t stop Perrott from trying to make this thing happen. With lots of hard work, lots of phone calls and lots of other communication, he and his team was able to pull it off against long odds. There were times especially early that there were questions if this showcase could even happen.
But as time wore on, one thing became very apparent. Players were interested. They wanted to play. They’ve waited over a year in some cases to get a chance to show what they’ve got. In the end, 110 players committed to paying $750 to come to Erie for two weeks to get their chance to play.
The Erie Junior Showcase is now alive and very well for the next two weeks.
Reacting to the Showcase Being Real
The first day of the showcase for players was Monday. This was their first practice day at ErieBank Sports Park. After practice they checked into their hotels where they’ll stay for the duration of the event.
To each player there, to each parent there, to every scout who is there, their initial reaction to everything is the same. There is a real excitement amongst everyone. Finally for the first time in what seems like forever, something normal is happening.
Players are playing hockey. Their dreams of trying to make it to the NHL are back on course after months and months of wondering what would happen next. These next two weeks are about so much more than playing hockey. It’s a chance to reunite with friends. It’s a chance to show off how much they’ve grown during this time. But most importantly, it’s a chance to go out and have some fun while having the scouting world is focused on them.
To Perrott and Hoffmann when asked what their reaction to this was, the full reality still hadn’t hit them. It was starting to set in as player after player came through the doors of ErieBank Sports Park ready to play.
That’s what this showcase is all about. It’s not about the final score of the games that are played. It’s all about the sense of normalcy this event is bringing to everyone not only in Erie, but those that follow junior hockey and the draft. This showcase at its heart is a wonderful sign that life is returning back to normal one day at a time.
Thanks to Perrott’s idea and those that stepped up to help out, this showcase is going to leave a lasting impact on everyone there. This has been received with positive feedback from everyone I’ve spoken to.
Said one NHL western conference scout: “The kids deserve a ton of credit for putting this together.” They sure do. That’s why they are the real winners in this showcase.
At a time when the world is looking for more leaders to step up and help in a positive manner, Perrott and his group answered that call in an effort to help others who were in a similar situation. Said another NHL scout: “They are the real winners of this event. This will be remembered for a long time.”
And to top it all off, the group led by Perrott brought every player into the gym on Monday to say thank you for being there and for helping to make the Showcase a reality. That attitude of gratitude only reinforces why the leadership group deserves so much credit.
In the tournament program, this is what the leadership group had to say as a thank you.
How do you begin to thank every person that helped make this happen? A simple thank you seems inadequate, but we hope that you all know how much every single dollar and hour given is greatly appreciated. Without each and every one this would not have been possible. From our sponsors, donors, to every single volunteer. Parents who stepped up to fill the gap when the players prepared and trained. Thank you from – Andrew Perrott, Ryan Beck, Ryan Humphrey and Brendan Hoffmann.PBHH Invitational Program
So as you watch the games being played over the next couple of weeks, just think about what all went into this endeavor to make it happen. 110 players, their families, 62 NHL scouts, referees, linesmen, trainers, coaches, volunteers, external vendors and so many more were able to come together in June to help make things feel normal again.
The hockey world is a small world but it’s truly a special place. It’s things like this that show just how closely knit the hockey community can be. 20 years or more from now when players are off in their careers living their best life, they’ll be able to think back to these two weeks in Erie, PA as the very thing that helped start where their lives will ultimately go.
And it all started with one player’s idea while sitting in Europe wondering what the future would hold. The world could sure use more Andrew Perrott’s in it, that’s for sure.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.