Do you think you have to play D1 to play Pro Hockey? Think Again.
Every year players who developed at the Tier 3 Junior Hockey level at some point in their careers advance to sign Pro Hockey contracts in the National Hockey League, American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League (mid level professional).
It is true that the most common path to professional hockey for former Tier 3 Junior Hockey players in America goes through the NCAA Division 1 level, however every year there are former Tier 3 players who advance to play at the pro level without playing D1. In fact, Tier 3 Alumni advance to sign professional contracts directly from the NCAA D3 level as well as ACHA Hockey levels. A few of the recent examples are listed below.
Casey Shea signed with the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL on March 16, 2018. Shea (F, 1994) developed for two seasons at the Tier 3 level with the New Hampshire Jr Monarchs and South Shore Kings of the former EJHL during his 2012-13 campaign and with the Islanders Hockey Club during his 2013-14 season before advancing to play 4 seasons at the NCAA Division 3 hockey level for UMass Dartmouth prior to signing with the Mallards where he began play earlier this month.
Zane Schartz signed with the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL on March 13, 2018. Schartz (D, 1994) developed with the former Capital District Selects of the EmJHL/EJHL before advancing to play 2 seasons in the BCHL before choosing Liberty University ACHA Division 1 College Hockey where he played for 3 seasons before signing with the Admirals.
Russell Jordan signed with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL on March 10, 2018. Jordan (F, 1993) played a season in the AtJHL with the Hartford Jr Wolfpack and Wilkes Barre Scranton Knights and a split season with the East Coast Eagles of the EJHL and Springfield Jr Blues (NAHL) in 2012-13 before advancing to play 4 seasons at the NCAA Division 3 level with both the University of Wisconsin River Falls (2014-15) and Hamline University (2015-18).
Dalton Carter signed with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL on March 7, 2018. Carter (D, 1993) developed during his 2013-14 a season with the Northern Cyclones of the Eastern Hockey League before advancing to play 4 seasons (2014-18) of NCAA Division 3 hockey with Utica College.
Matt McMorrow signed with the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL on March 6, 2018. McMorrow (F, 1994) developed for four seasons (2011-14) at the Tier 3 Junior Hockey level across multiple teams and multiple leagues (Brewster Bulldogs/EmJHL 2010-11), (New York Bobcats, AtJHL 2011-12), (New York Apple Core, EJHL 2012-13) (PAL Jr Islanders, USPHL 2013-14) before playing 4 seasons of NCAA Division 3 hockey at Babson College (2014-18).
Logan Day signs with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL on March 5, 2018. Day (D, 1994) developed with the South Shore Kings through his 2013-14 campaign, before advancing to play two games at the NCAA D1 level with Providence College in 2014-15 and then returning to college to play 2 seasons (2016-18) with Endicott at the NCAA D3 level.
Regardless of where you start and the path provided to you, if your goal is to play professional hockey the possibility remains available from both NCAA Division 3 as well as ACHA Hockey as shown above.
The most recent Tier 3 Junior Hockey Alumni to sign their first professional contract with in the NHL is RYAN DONATO who signed an Entry Level Contract with the Boston Bruins on March 18, 2018. Donato (F, 1996) played 13 games with the South Shore Kings during his 2014-15 campaign before advancing to the USHL and on to 3 years of NCAA College Hockey for Harvard. Donato was taken #56 overall in Round 2 of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins and is a Hobey Baker Finalist in 2018.
This is an exciting time of year for many former Tier 3 Junior Hockey players as they finish up their college campaigns and move on to higher levels of hockey.