Junior hockey

It is that time of the hockey season that I get questioned alot by players and parents about what avenues that they should look at for the future hockey careers. Should we consider the Junior A path in Ontario (depending on where you reside in Canada) or take a serious look at the possibility of the University way in the U.S. or as it’s call NCAA.

What I usually mention to the parents and the players is to look at both avenues very closely and make an honest answer to themselves on several factors and these factors are:

Education

  • What are you truly looking for?
  • Can you earn a full scholarship?
  • What are your grades like?

Hockey future

  • Will you be a top first round pick in the midget draft in the OHL?
  • What exactly are your personal and educational goals?

You hear so many different stories about the two avenues that are presented to the young players, which one road they should take, that it can be all very confusing. Then you add in a ‘Family Advisor’ into the mix who has his own opinions on which path to take, all depending on the comapany he represents, you can go crazy trying to decide. But you also could have the decision made for you, meaning if you are in the top 1.5% of players in the provience then there will be both the NCAA University teams and the Jr.A teams coming after you, so be prepared for that too.

Looking at the NCAA route there is factors to consider and look into. You have to recognize that there is teams that are in the College Non-Varsity programs and then the one’s which are NCAA Divivsion 1, 2, 3, 1A or 1AA ice hockey programs that are fully funded by their schools and may offer a variety of opportunies to the gifted athlete/student. These benefits include, scholarships, consideration in admissions, tutoring and much more.

Recruitment is very heavy and those schools that may offer scholarships of some sort only Div 1 and 2 are allowed to. They say out of the 134+ schools in the U.S with men’s hockey programs there is ususally only 18 scholarships per team allowed and this doesn’t say that all teams offer the same type of scholarships or all 18 of them. The numbers can change yearly as the players who have the scholarships already playing on the team counts towards those 18 available. One statistic that has been produced lately is that out of over 60,000 eligable players in the USA Hockey system there is only 1 out of 92 palyers awarded a scholarship, just over 1% and that doesn’t inclide the Canadian or other foriegn players. It is a very tough road to follow and unfortunately getting even tougher as the US Hockey Program is getting better and better.

While you investigate both avenues some other considerations you might wish to think about. In the OHL the individual teams are developing some nice ‘school packages’ for the players, so when their junior playing days are over they can get into a Canadian University and get a very good education and maybe still play varsity hockey if they choose.

The OHL has a longer player schedule per season then the NCAA which some players prefer especially if the next stage in the players career is going professional, they would be more a custom to a longer schedule.

I will say that wherever you do get to play, each and every league and team will treat you very well and with professionalism to highest level possible.

By Warren Nye, UltimateHockeySource.com
Photo by FromSandToGlass
February 18th, 2012