Ohio AAA Blue Jackets partners with Orthopedic ONE
Orthopedic ONE is proud to announce its exclusive sports medicine partnership with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets
Beginning this month, Orthopedic ONE’s team of sports medicine physicians, surgeons, therapists and athletic trainers will be named the official sports medicine provider to the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets, a member of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League.
Ohio AAA Blue Jackets started in 2004 with just a U18 team. Since then the club has seen rapid growth and now has 9 teams playing at the Tier 1 AAA level, which is the highest competitive level of youth hockey within USA Hockey. This elite group of athletes has seen many successes on the ice, including numerous players receiving NCAA Hockey scholarships, players drafted and signed into the NHL as well as representation on the Team USA World Jr Championship team and the Team USA World Championship Men’s team.
“As our program has grown, the need to add additional services for our players and families has grown as well. Partnering with Orthopedic One will allow us to provide comprehensive sports medicine services to our players. It will be a great benefit and resource to our families. We are excited to partner with the experienced staff at Orthopedic One,” said Ed Gingher, Program Coordinator and U18 Head Coach.
As part of an exclusive partnership agreement, Orthopedic ONE will offer onsite, game and tournament coverage, injury prevention and related health resources to the AAA Blue Jackets.
“Youth hockey continues to make a name for itself in central Ohio, local programs are growing and this club is producing great players,” said Larry Watson, MD, a Sports Medicine physician with Orthopedic ONE, and team orthopedic surgeon for the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets. “We are committed to helping our partners create an environment in which their student athletes can safely achieve their athletic goals while learning how to prevent and minimize sports related injuries. We are excited about our opportunity to be a part of the AAA Blue Jackets program and look forward to working with the coaches, student athletes and families,” added Geoff Omiatek, Director of Therapy Service at Orthopedic ONE.
This announcement furthers the practice’s list of athletic affiliations and partnerships within the region, which also includes: Columbus Crew SC, Columbus Blue Jackets, Classics Eagles, Resolute Athletic Complex, Columbus Premier League, Ohio RTC (Regional Training Center), Sports Ohio, Mannino’s Grand Slam USA, FC42, Ohio Premier, Team 614 Cycling, and more.
Orthopedic ONE, Ohio’s largest, physician-owned orthopedic practice, offers a world-class roster of sports medicine experts with decades of experience treating professional, collegiate, high school, club and recreational athletes of all ages. Our Physicians, Physical Therapists and Certified Athletic Trainers work together to achieve a unified a goal - returning athletes to pre-injury condition.
With locations throughout central Ohio and nearly 60 orthopedic physicians, Orthopedic ONE represents a range of specialties from total joint replacement to hand, foot and spine surgery, to physical medicine and rehabilitation. To learn more or find a location near you, visit OrthopedicONE.com.
Growing a Sport - by Aaron Portzline Columbus Dispatch
Growing a sport | Hockey: Local programs are producing elite players
Pro, college scouts are noticing talent in this hockey hotbed
9/20/14 - Since moving to Columbus nine years ago, Ed Gingher has told anybody who would listen — even those with an eyebrow raised — that central Ohio is a burgeoning hotbed of hockey talent.
The pool of elite players has been growing for almost two decades, in fact, triggered by the proliferation of suburban hockey rinks in the area and the arrival in 2000 of the Blue Jackets as an NHL expansion team.
The math is simple: interest plus opportunity equals participation.
Greater participation — roughly 5,000 central Ohio kids play amateur hockey, vs. about 150 in the early 1990s — means better competition.
“And where there’s better competition,” Gingher said, “the talent gets better and better.”
Since 2006, the former general manager of the minor-league Dayton Bombers has run the program that oversees the best talent in central Ohio.
Gingher is program coordinator of the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets, founded eight years ago (with funding from the NHL team) to help elite players pursue their dream of playing big-time hockey.
“When you’ve got thousands of kids playing hockey, and when they’re well-coached at every level, you’re going to have some special players emerge,” Gingher said. “That’s what is happening in Columbus. It shouldn’t surprise people much longer.”
Defenseman Connor Murphy, 21, of Dublin is expected to be a regular for the Arizona Coyotes this season.
Two other central Ohio prospects — Trent Vogelhuber, 26, of Dublin (Blue Jackets) and Cole Cassels, 19, of Lewis Center (Vancouver Canucks) — are in NHL training camps. Another, 21-year-old, Sean Kuraly of Dublin, would be in camp with the San Jose Sharks if he weren’t enrolled for his junior year at Miami University.
Meanwhile, Jack Roslovic, 17, of Bexley has begun his second year with the U.S. national team development program, an elite academy in Ann Arbor, Mich., that has produced some of the best U.S.-born NHL players of the last generation. Roslovic is expected to be drafted by an NHL club next summer.
Players born and trained in Columbus have received college scholarships, been selected in the Ontario Hockey League draft — a part of the Canadian major-junior program — and signed professional contracts overseas.
“There are markets in our country where hockey is historically strong,” said Jim Johannson, executive director of USA Hockey. “But the real story of our growth in recent years is in the newly emerging areas in California, Colorado, Texas and, yes, Ohio.
“We’re seeing lots of kids from Columbus now starting to make their way onto the national and international stage. It’s one of our major success stories.”
Vogelhuber is the pioneer of the group, the first player from central Ohio to be taken in the NHL draft. The Blue Jackets selected him with the final pick — No. 211 overall — of the 2007 draft.
Murphy and Kuraly, who grew up as best friends, were part of the U.S. team that won the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
“We were really proud to be the first ones from Columbus to play there,” Kuraly said. “I’m sure some people looked at the roster and said ‘Columbus? As in Ohio?’ ”
Roslovic, who last summer began a two-year commitment with USA Hockey, is living, training and attending his final two years of high school in Ann Arbor.
The development program — which has produced such NHL stars as Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Toronto’s Phil Kessel, Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson — selects only the top 20 or so players nationwide each year. Roslovic is the first central Ohioan to be invited.
“The guys just call me ‘Columbus,’ ” he said. “They think that’s a slightly unusual place to be from if you’re a hockey player. But I keep telling them ... get used to it.”
In February, the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets won the prestigious Quebec International PeeWee Tournament for 12- and 13-year-olds. The tournament, the largest of its kind in the world, is the hockey equivalent of the Little League World Series.
“The first wave of talent — with Trent and Connor and Sean and Cole — is now ashore,” Gingher said. “And we think the waves are going to keep coming.”
Staying in Columbus
During a one-hour conversation recently, tears welled twice in Paul Donskov’s eyes.
For more than 25 years, the Westerville resident and his family have run a highly regarded hockey academy, Donskov Hockey Development.
The first tears reflected sadness, at the thought of all the players who, until a few years ago, had to join travel teams in other cities or move out of Columbus to further their hockey careers. Some gave up the dream altogether.
“You just wonder what could have been if they had a chance here in the 1980s and ’90s,” Donskov said. “But there weren’t enough good players, and there wasn’t a program to keep them growing.”
Among those born too soon was Patrick Schafer, whose parents began driving him from Hilliard to Cleveland three days a week in 1999 — he was 12 years old — so he could face better competition.
At 15, Schafer lived with a host family in Cleveland so he could play for the Cleveland Barons of the Midwest Elite Hockey League. The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets were still four years away.
Schafer was the first central Ohio-born player to be recruited by Ohio State, and he’s still being paid to play hockey for the Mississippi RiverKings of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
“But it would have been great to have an opportunity then to stay in Columbus,” Schafer said. “I’m sure my dad would have appreciated it more than anybody. He did all the driving.”
Donskov’s second wave of emotion was on the other end of the spectrum — pure joy.
The best players in the area, many of whom have been taught at his academy, now have a much more advanced, competitive environment to help them succeed.
Eighteen have committed to or accepted scholarships from Division I colleges, and scores of others have moved on to junior programs in Canada or the United States, or are playing at small colleges.
Vogelhuber would have moved to Detroit or Cleveland had the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets not formed.
“I get emotional when I think about how far we’ve come as a hockey town,” Donskov said. “When I think about the opportunities today’s kids have … to realize their dreams. This is why teachers teach and coaches coach.”
Just a generation ago, members of local elite travel teams in the area faced daunting hurdles as the programs struggled for legitimacy.
“Our kids would get up at
4 a.m. in order for us to be in Detroit around 7:30 or 8 a.m.,” said Gord Murphy, Connor’s dad, a former NHL defenseman and a current assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“The only way we could get games up there was to play at those times. It was their way of keeping us in our place.”
Much has changed.
“They come to us now,” Gingher said. “We play home-and-homes with programs that, when we first started, wouldn’t leave their backyards to play us.”
Coming to Columbus
Central Ohio youths who wanted better competition used to find host families in Cleveland, Detroit or Chicago. Now, the opposite holds true.
Jerry Rosburg, an assistant coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, knew that his son Jerad would need to leave the Baltimore and Washington area to find better competition.
Two years ago, the Rosburgs picked Columbus and the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets, putting Jerad up with a host family for two years. Jerad plans to play one more season for Sioux City in the United States Hockey League — the U.S. equivalent of Canadian major junior — and then attend Michigan State on a scholarship.
This year, the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets will have three players from Cleveland and one each from Detroit; Washington — and Fairbanks, Alaska.
Yes, 16-year-old Cole Michealis has traveled from Alaska to play in Columbus.
“He did all the research, looked all over the place and said this is where he wants to play,” Gingher said. “Kinda nice.”
The growth in elite-level talent in central Ohio has brought other people to town, too: college recruiters, NHL agents looking for future clients, and even NHL scouts preparing for future drafts.
“There was no reason to stop here before — there was no talent playing in Columbus,” former Ohio State coach John Markell said. “Now, I get phone calls all the time from guys asking me if I’ve seen this guy or that guy.”
NHL agents have “eyes” in Columbus, just as they have had for many years in Minnesota, Michigan, Boston and upstate New York. When the “eyes” see a young player who looks special, a phone call is made.
Most agents say they won’t talk to a player’s family until the player is at least 15 years old. But of the five agents contacted by The Dispatch, four already had heard the names of Anthony Vidrick, who is 12, and his brother Andrew, who is 11. Both starred on the PeeWee team that won in Quebec.
A decade ago, the Vidricks likely would have been making plans to leave Columbus — Detroit? Cleveland? — so their sons could continue to develop.
But those days are done.
“These kids in Columbus now have grown up in a time where they go to Nationwide Arena and touch the dream,” said Anton Thun, an agent who represents NHL players Steve Mason, Dave Bolland, Shawn Thornton and others. “The infrastructure to create and develop players didn’t exist until the NHL arrived.
“If you go back 20 years, Ohio State played in that little rinky-dink, crappy arena, and that was the pinnacle of what Columbus hockey was at the time. It had so far to go, and it’s come a long way.”