Want To Play College Hockey? EHL Leads All Tier III Leagues In Direct-to-College Advancement
03/06/2016, 10:00am EST
By EHL Staff / Eastern Hockey League
EHL ACCOUNTS FOR 28 PERCENT OF ALL NCAA DIVISION II/III FRESHMEN
BOSTON, Mass. -- Pay-to-play Junior hockey has become much maligned in the past few years due to over expansion of leagues and teams, and an overall drifting from its original purpose of advancing players to a higher level of play.
Regardless of recent image issues, the facts prove Junior hockey has become -- far and away -- the main feeder system for NCAA college hockey over the past 20 years.
According to College Hockey, Inc., an organization that works closely with the six NCAA Division I hockey leagues in educational and marketing endeavors, 90.1 percent of all current Division I players advanced directly from the Junior hockey ranks. Data taken from D3Hockey.com shows that 91.4 percent of all 2015-16 freshmen at the NCAA Division II and III levels advanced directly from Junior hockey.
In what Junior leagues are all these players competing?
NCAA roster research for the current season shows that 28 percent of all NCAA Division II AND III freshmen advanced directly to college from the Eastern Hockey League.
Let that sink in for a minute ... more than one in every four NCAA freshmen at the Division II and III levels played in the EHL last year.
With 140 direct-to-college advancements at the NCAA Division II and III levels the EHL more than doubles the next closest competitor. The USPHL Premier Division ranks second with 63 advancements and the Tier II North American Hockey League is third at 60.
The data also shows that geography matters. With a large number of Division II and III opportunities within 120 miles of the greater Boston area, the EHL caters to these NCAA schools as its primary purpose. Getting players in front of college coaches is a common occurrence in the EHL.
For the purpose of comparison between geography and advancement, the NA3HL has 34 teams in operation – none of which are in the Northeast – and accounted for 16 direct-to-college NCAA Division II and III advancements.
Another fact proven by the data is a few leagues offer numerous teams and levels with very little chance of advancement unless you play on one of the top teams in the top division. Expansion of Junior hockey, simply for the sake of expanding, has done nothing to bolster college advancement opportunity for the player. On the contrary. More players are competing in Junior hockey for the same amount of available college roster spots. This means some leagues are advertising advancement that simply can't happen.
Another big issue in today's marketplace is the term "commitment." Each league, including the EHL, has a commitment page with a long list of players. The misleading part of a "commitment" is if a 15-year-old player commits to a Division I school while at prep or high school, three years later he is listed on the Junior league's commitment list. Everywhere this player goes, the team for which he plays and the league in which he plays touts the commitment. All leagues follow this practice, even the United States Hockey League.
What parents really want to know is "Where was the kid playing WHEN he received his commitment?"
All 144 EHL alumni, who are NCAA Division I, II or III freshmen in 2015-16, earned their commitment while playing in the EHL. Every single one of those 144 student-athletes were looking for a NCAA roster spot when they signed with their EHL team. This is factual data that rarely gets introduced to the marketplace.
So how do players and parents use this data?
First, one must assume that a player has the goal of becoming a NCAA student-athlete. The data shows that almost 60 percent of all NCAA Division II and III freshmen in 2015-16 advanced directly from Tier III, which proves that pay-to-play Junior hockey plays a vital role for the NCAA. That percentage is even higher when one considers that some Canadian Tier II leagues are now pay-to-play.
Given the data above, it's highly likely that an aspiring collegiate hockey player will spend between one and three years honing his skills in the Junior ranks prior to enrolling as a full-time NCAA student-athlete.
Once into Junior hockey investigative mode, a young hockey player and his parents will be bombarded by recruiting information that boasts claims of college placement, inflated alumni and commitment lists, inflated scouting lists for Showcases and general noise about what league is the "best."
The EHL recognized this increasingly confusing marketplace four years ago when its teams separated from the Atlantic Metropolitan Hockey League. As a stand-alone Junior league, governed solely by its owner/operators, the EHL set forth on a path that focuses entirely on creating a system for direct-to-college placements.
Four years down the road of self-governance the numbers have played out as expected and the EHL has become the verifiable leader in the United States for direct-to-Division II/III placement. The EHL doesn't make that claim without proof. The data shows if you are an uncommitted player, with a desire to play NCAA college hockey, the EHL provides the best chance for you.
The reasons for the EHL's upward trajectory are numerous, but here are two key principles:
To view a list of all 2015-16 NCAA Division II/III freshmen, and from what Junior leagues they advanced, please click below:
- 2015-16 NCAA Division II/III Freshmen List