Josh Wilkins at Carolina Hurricanes Development Camp
Growing up in Raleigh, N.C., Josh Wilkins often had to travel to play hockey.
This year was a little different. The former TPH Thunder U16 captain didn’t have to go very far to participate in last week’s Carolina Hurricanes development camp.
It was a rare opportunity for the skilled forward to play in front of his mom, dad and other family members.
“I got to pay in front of them for the first time in a couple of years, so it was a cool opportunity and experience,” the 19-year-old said. “Especially to be in my hometown, it was great to get invited.”
The four-day camp was a chance for Wilkins to learn more about what it takes to make it at the next level.
“The Hurricanes teach you how to be a pro everyday,” Wilkins said. “They taught a lot about nutrition, how to handle things mentally and how to act like a good hockey player.”
Before jumping into the NAHL and USHL, Wilkins starred on the TPH Thunder and the TPH Thunder Midget Minor OHL Cup team. Wilkins scored 21 goals and added 15 assists in 34 games with the Thunder in 2013-14 and played exceptionally well at the 2012-13 OHL Cup, notching seven points in six games.
“When Josh came to TPH, he was physically mature, had an outstanding skill set and to his credit was open to learning more,” TPH President and Managing Partner Nathan Bowen said. “He bought into our culture and understood that academic performance would lead to athletic opportunities down the road. We’re so happy and proud of him for taking the next step and attending Providence when he’s ready. He’s an exceptional young man who loves the game and competes every day on and off the ice.”
He also featured prominently on the USA team that took home the bronze medal at the 2015-16 World Junior A Challenge, tallying four points in five games.
“TPH really helped me get exposure,” Wilkins said. “I got drafted to the USHL from the Thunder and I learned a lot from my coaches there. Nathan Bowen puts together a lot of good teams with the Thunder.”
Wilkins said his development as a player really took off playing for the TPH team.
“They get you in the gym and gave us a lot of good hockey workouts,” the 2014 draft pick of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers said. “When we practiced, we practiced hard. I really got a lot of individual work in.
“They also made sure I was taken care of in school and helped make sure my teachers and counselors knew what I was doing and what my situation was.”
As Wilkins’ career takes off – he’ll either play at Providence or back at Sioux City this coming season – he fondly remembers his time playing with TPH.
“There have been a lot of guys who have come out of TPH before me and I think each group looks up to the next group,” he said. “That shows the character of TPH.”
Total Package Hockey is one of the largest hockey service providers in the country, offering youth and adult programs from Detroit to Atlanta. TPH provides programs, which are staffed by highly qualified elite hockey coaches and professionals, to more than 4,000 players each year. With programs in 18 total U.S. cities, including teams in the NA3HL and T1EHL, TPH specializes in skill-based player development and has a track record of moving players to junior, college and professional hockey.