As elite hockey players begin their teenage years those that want to play professionally or in college have many options or roads they can travel. We will outline different paths to hockey so players can choose the path that can benefit them the most.
There is sometimes pressure to make decisions early which can have impact on hockey careers. As in anything rushing decision often doesn’t have the positive impact that well thought out and planned decisions do.
There are several routes available. There is no such thing as the best way only the way that could work best for you. Some paths that help players reach the College D1 or Pro ranks are: 1) USHL; 2)CHL (Junior A Hockey in Canada comprising of leagues like OHL, WHL, QMJHL); 3)Prep School/High School; or 4) A Tier 2/3 league followed by any of the above.
One of the major half truths are that if you are good enough they will find you. Often there are a handful of players that are the top and that makes up the top 1% of prospects. Players who are near the top 1% but not in it need to be able to stand out as there are opportunities but many similar players are competing for them. One major aspect not on the ice that is highly regarded is character. How you conduct yourself and your history with coaches and other players is an important part of your resume. Also important is participation in other sports, activities and your grades. Stand out and be a good citizen to get opportunities. Like an adult looking for a job a player needs to have a compelling resume to stand out and get the opportunity. Often this is not in the video highlights that you may submit to scouts.
USHL Route – The United States Hockey League is the top junior ice hockey league in the United States. The USHL has 17 member teams located in the Midwestern United States, consisting of players who are 20 years of age and younger. Most players are 20 and play when they are done with U16 midgets or high school prep schools. USHL has a strong history of NHL draft picks along with college commitments. They say that 95% of their players get at least one offer from a D1 program. This path involves impressing one of the 17 teams and getting placement via the USHL draft or by selection as a free agent. With the USHL you are eligible to play college hockey.
CHL – The Canadian Hockey League (CHL; French: Ligue canadienne de hockey ‒ LCH) is an umbrella organization that represents the three Canada-based major junior ice hockey leagues for players 16 to 20 years of age. The CHL is composed of its three member leagues, the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. For the 2017–18 season, its three leagues and 60 teams represent nine Canadian provinces (52 teams) as well as four American states (8 teams).
High School/ Prep School – Many players especially in Minnesota and east choose high school prep school route. Often College, pro and other scouts watch high school hockey state as well as other tournaments to identify players. This route is considerably cheaper but often even with high school experience players need to play in juniors to be ready for college hockey.
One interesting difference between the leagues USHL and CHL is that in the CHL you lose your college hockey eligibility but you earn money for college that you can use if hockey doesn’t work out.
Often players take multiple paths to college or pro hockey.
The goal of myedgehockey.com is to be an advocate for talented youth hockey players. Good luck to all that participate in elite youth hockey and best wishes to all youth hockey families. To be notified of programs we run please apply.